Title—Waiting For Superman
Awards–Won Best Documentary from the National Board of Review, 2010
Won Best Documentary Feature from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, 2011
Won the Documentary Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, 2010
Summary–This film takes a look at the education crisis in America today, interviewing leading members in the education field. It also follows several students who are trying to win coveted spots at the best schools in the country.
My Thoughts–This was a really hard movie to watch because it was so upsetting. The filmmaker (Dennis Guggenheim, who did An Inconvenient Truth) focuses on the real problem that exists in our schools today. The numbers and facts he throws out are so startling that I literally sat there gaping at the tv with my mouth open. (I kept chanting, thank God I’m not having kids, thank God I’m not having kids.) Test scores are going down, down, down and the current fixes do not seem to be working at all.
The documentary looks at certain schools throughout the country that are doing things right. The view taken by these schools and the filmmakers is that good teachers make good schools. Basically, there are some crappy teachers in this country, and because of the way the teacher’s union contract is set up, there’s nothing we can do to get rid of them. Now I know that now is not a good time to be hating on teachers. I for one think teachers have one of the hardest jobs in the world and think they should be making CEO level salaries. But let’s face it, some teachers really suck. We’ve all had at least one (hello, high school chemistry teacher!).
One example of just how messed up the system is, happened a while ago when some students used a hidden camera to record teachers reading the paper at their desk and putting a student’s head in a toilet. The principal of the school fired the teachers, but then had to hire them back with a year’s back pay because it violated their contracts to fire them. I’m sorry, but if you are terrible at your job, your boss should be able to fire you no matter what your contract says.
Anyway, moving on from that little rant…the really heartbreaking part of the film involves several students from horrible neighborhoods who are trying to get into some of those awesome schools that are really working. Hundreds to thousands of children enter lotteries around the country to fill the tiny amount of spots available. Tears were rolling down my face at the end of the film as the kids and their families sat waiting for their number to be called.
Final Verdict–This is a fantastic movie that every parent and teacher should watch. I am neither, but I still found it heartbreaking and touching.