Another critical movie was released over the weekend. It’s a movie I recommend everyone see — especially if you care about kids and the future of American education. It’s called: “Waiting For Superman.”
It’s the documentary everyone’s talking about. It tells a gripping story about the state of public school systems in America, told through the eyes of five hopeful students. Each is eager to get an education, but in a system riddled with ineffective teachers, staggering dropout rates and schools that are literally falling apart, the odds are more than stacked against them.
Filmmaker, Davis Guggenheim, reminds us that education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of “Waiting For Superman.” As he follows the five promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth, Guggenheim undertakes an exhaustive review of public education, surveying “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes” methodically dissecting the system. For many kids in underfunded schools, the chance of going to an effective charter school are up to a lottery system, where numbers are drawn and kids have an extremely low odds of making it. One mother stated, “I knew that my son winning this lottery would mean the difference between him going to college and going to jail.”
I remember when I was 5-years-old, I asked my mother, “Why do I take a 45-minute bus ride to go to school (in another city)?” And she said, “Because the schools in our city are broken,” Davis writes. Forty years later, Davis drives his own children past three public schools to a private school — but he says he’s haunted by the other children who are being left behind.
“I just could not escape the fact that I was driving by these schools and not doing my part,” he says. “I was helping my kids, but what about other peoples’ children? How can I make a movie that will make parents care about other peoples’ children as much as we care about our own?”
Allow me to weigh in and share what I believe are four reasons the system is failing:
1. Faculty who are not gifted to teach and who don’t even like kids.
2. An antiquated classroom that fails to deliver content the way students learn.
3. A teacher’s union that started well but now protects mediocrity & status quo.
4. An assessment system that doesn’t measure true learning or allow creativity.
Please — tell me I’m wrong. Weigh in with your own thoughts or with reasons we must revolutionize the system.