Saturday, October 09, 2010

Waiting for Superman

Today I saw the documentary Waiting for Superman, directed by Davis Guggenheim.

American public schools are in trouble and each day leaders like Geoffrey Canada and Michelle Rhee do their best to fight against a broken system that refuses to right its wrongs.

In this film we meet those reformers, along with a small sample of underprivileged children from across the nation who all have one thing in common: a desire to learn.

One girl's mom cleans hospitals while dad stays at home searching for a job; another boy's grandmother has stepped in to raise him because her son (his father) died from drug use. These aren't easy times for anyone.

But the children wake up each day, wash their face and head to school because they're determined to make a better life than the one they were born into. They all come from families who recognize the importance of education and for that reason we come to find out they're all entered into separate lotteries to try to gain acceptance into better schools.

The numbers are dismal: the US ranks near the bottom of the list for developed countries in nearly every subject. The cost of keeping a prisoner incarcerated for four years turns out to be more than the cost of an exceptional private education. Why can't our country do the math?

Waiting for Superman turns out to be more of a wake up call than a call for action (many of the situations seem hopeless from what they've shown us), and it has already succeeded in angering a large portion of the good public school teachers who feel they are getting a bum rap.

The presentation of the issues was engaging and well done, but proposed solutions for how to solve the problem would've been more powerful.


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