"Waiting for Superman" Movie Review

10/03/2010 Posted by Admin

"Waiting for Superman"

Movie Review

Directed by David Guggenheim, 102 minutes

By our guest blogger, Aidan Thomas

As an educator and documentary fanatic, I had been looking forward to "Waiting for Superman," and it didn’t disappoint.

The film, directed by David Guggenheim, is engaging and digestible. It gives a somewhat simplistic, but mostly accurate, overview of the current state of education. Through thoughtful voiceovers, entertaining graphics, candid interviews and the touching stories of six students, Guggenheim hones in on the various factors that have caused the current education crisis. Whereas Guggenheim’s previous film, "An Inconvenient Truth," pandered, "Waiting for Superman" engages.

The film begins with Guggenheim reflecting on public education. He laments the fact that he does not feel comfortable sending his kids to the public school they drive by every day on their way to private school. So, what’s wrong with the public education system? For starters, they are not serving our students. Their scores are abysmal and their drop-out rates are catastrophic.

In the most striking interviews of the film, Guggenheim seems to suggest that Randi Weingarten, teachers and bureaucracy have created a system where systemic change is impossible. In contrast, reformers like Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada and Washington D.C. superintendent Michelle Rhee are presented as potential saviors of our educational system. Guggenheim suggests that there should be greater accountability and more options for our nation's children. Although no one would disagree with those sentiments, charter schools and accountability are not necessarily the silver bullets that Guggenheim seems to suggest.

The film's best moments come during the interviews with six inner-city youth who are applying to charter schools around the country. The kids are wise beyond their age and are incredibly inspiring. At one point, Anthony, a 12-year-old from D.C., says something akin to, "I just want something better for my kids."

This line in and of itself is an indictment of our time. We live in a world where kids who strive to improve their lot and to get more for their families are not given the chance to do so. Whether the solution to the current crisis is more accountability, more charter schools, or something else, more people need to be involved in shaping the future of America’s youth and Guggenheim’s film should inspire people to step up and do so.

Grade:  B

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