Nothing like a movie about the demise of America’s education system to get the blood boiling. From the director of An Inconvenient Truth comes Waiting For Superman, a documentary about the public school system and why it’s failing. Harlem, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, the Bronx, and Washington D.C. are the backdrops for this scorched earth expose.
Guggenheim intruduces the ‘drop-out’ factory; schools where 60% of sudents don’t graduate. Once a student is on the track from an elementary school that feeds into a drop-out factory, they’re doomed. Most students enter with reading comprehension multiple grades levels below high school standards and math skills that are beyond poor. Meanwhile the USA continues to drop worldwide in both literacy and math scores. Coincidence? Hopefully even the dumbest moviegoer will make the connection. And for those who said that poverty and poor education go hand in hand, Guggenheim offers the charter school. Their successes tell a different tale, one where the above average testing scores speak for themselves. Unfortunately, the spaces just aren’t there for all of the students who want to succeed. Those who win an arbitrary lottery have a chance; those who don’t, don’t. It’s that simple and sad.
From one red tape to another, the problems of the system seem to stem from the teachers union. Why can’t bad teachers be fired? Because they have tenure and (according to Superman’s director, Guggenheim) vote after vote allows them to sit on their laurels waisting hundreds of thousands of dollars while budget cuts eliminate art, music, and basic endeavors to teach our children a competitive curriculum.
I highly recommend this movie even if you’re not a fan of An Inconvenient Truth. Somewhere in between the nail-biting effects is the reality – our public school system sucks.