Waiting for Superman

3 Nov

Oprah is, like, my personal hero. She says jump, I say: how high?

So when she featured the new documentary Waiting for Superman on her show, I knew I’d go see it as soon as it was released at my local arts theater.

The film doesn’t disappoint. Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, of An Inconvenient Truth fame,  profiles children whose lives are profoundly influenced (for better or worse) by the shortage of effective public schools in America. Guggenheim paints a dim picture of our nation’s future. In the film, each child’s fate rests on the luck of the draw: the lottery system used to select students for charter school admission.

Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim

In addition to focusing on individual stories, the film simultaneously explains the bigger picture: How badly our schools are failing, why they are failing, and why the country has failed to fix them. As Michelle Rhee, Superintendent of DC schools, points out–the issue has unfortunately become about the adults, not the children. Teacher’s unions, corrupt officials, and other proponents of the status quo are blocking meaningful reform.

Sadly, this film had a discouraging effect on me. Six months ago I completed a master’s degree in education. After student teaching for one semester, the reality of the job set in. I had all but decided I didn’t want to teach. Why would I want to enter a profession where I’ll be paid relatively little and asked to do so much? Standardized testing alone is enough to make an enthusiastic new teacher want to rip her hair out.

Waiting for Superman, while poignant and important, makes this licensed educator want to stay home from school. The film’s concluding argument is that schools cannot succeed without great teachers. But many of us who would be great teachers are discouraged before we set foot in our first classroom. Thankfully, there are many who love teaching so much that they are willing to endure the crappy pay and corrupt system. But great teachers shouldn’t have to endure–they should be able to thrive.

This is a film every American should see. Check out the trailer below, and then see if it’s playing in your area. If not for me, then do it for Oprah.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Have you already seen Waiting for Superman? What are your thoughts on the movie?


One Response to “Waiting for Superman”

  1. Jingle November 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    awesome movie review,
    painting a bigger picture is cool.

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