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Waiting for "Superman" [Blu-ray]
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Top Customer Reviews
This short story is nestled into the middle of the film but describes the flavor of the rest of the movie. "Waiting for 'Superman'" is a shock and awe that delivers convincing arguments that good teachers are what matters to student learning but the U.S. school system cannot let shining stars shine or fire the bad apples, and the worse-off neighborhoods are hit the hardest. One of the major arguments of the film is that teacher tenure* has to go. It makes its case for each point with facts, figures, clear arguments, and examples. The film intensely wraps it all together with emotional connections to a half-dozen students followed through the film, each hoping to literally win the lottery and get a spot in a top charter school.
The film isn't all attack, and it shows several success stories in the form of top charter schools. Many of these schools have graduation rates of nearly 100%, and nearly all students go onto college. Interestingly, many of the charter schools take students who were already behind and from neighborhoods with schools that are classified as drop-out factories (where a minority of students graduate).
"Waiting for 'Superman'" examines the problems, and it shows what is possible.
See this film. Understand the issues. Push for reform.
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* Tenure started with professors at universities.Read more ›
Another highly praised school that is featured in the film is the SEED charter boarding school in Washington, D.C. SEED seems to deserve all the praise that it receives from Guggenheim, CBS’s 60 Minutes, and elsewhere. It has remarkable rates of graduation and college acceptance. But SEED spends $35,000 per student, as compared to average current spending for public schools of about one third that amount. Is our society prepared to open boarding schools for tens of thousands of inner-city students and pay what it costs to copy the SEED model? Those who claim that better education for the neediest students won’t require more money cannot use SEED to support their argument.
Waiting for Superman is not an attack on teachers. If anything its a testament to the critical importance of good teachers. Guggenheim's research shows the amazing effect that good teaching can have on a very large population of students. But he also presents the corallary. Just as good teaching saves lives, bad teaching destroys them. And unfortunately Americans have allowed a system to develop where good teachers get no rewards and bad teachers are almost never fired. The problem is not necessarily spending. We have more than doubled our per student expenditures since the 1960s (even adjusting for inflation) and are turning out graduates who are not college ready.
Guggenheim follows the history of American schools showing how up until the 1970s American public schools were the best in the world. He shows how the lack of global competition made us look awfully good. Unfortunately schools need to be better then they were fifty years ago, when they were expected to turn out high school classes where 20% of the kids went to college. Nowadays schools need to turn out graduating classes where just about everybody is ready for a four year college--and very few school districts are doing it. To make the story hit home, Guggenheim profiled several students waiting to get into Charter Schools, schools which are run by different rules than most public schools, and have a history of success.Read more ›
1) Public education everywhere is a failure, and 2) Charter schools are the answer.
First, the documentary conspicuously ignores the issue of inequality created by our current public school funding scheme. Instead, the viewer is told about the major sources of funding (federal, state, and local), but it's never mentioned that the vast majorority of funds come from state and local taxes, with property taxes being the principal determinant of how much is spent per pupil within a school district. The viewer is also told that, on average, we are spending twice as much per pupil than we were 30 or 40 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. What isn't explained is that while the average expenditure has gone up, the range from lowest to highest expenditures has also increased. In other words, the current average is inflated by the fact that some school districts have plenty to spend, so much so that students are given laptops and the schools have pristine facilities. In the movie, viewers get a glimpse of one such school, but it is never explained how such schools can afford all the wonderful amenities and how these schools skew the average per pupil figures; Viewers are just told that some students struggle in those environments too, which of course some do. But when you have huge financial discrepancies between school districts, you also have huge discrepancies in teacher pay, textbook allotments, facilities upkeep, etc., etc.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I teach a social foundations in education course and find this documentary to be very helpful. I pair it with Diane Ravitch's article against the movie so that we can have a lively... Read morePublished 6 days ago by PhillyEd
Excellent. All interested in education and social justice need to watch.Published 1 month ago by Jeffrey A Isenhour
Every teacher and anyone involved in education should see this and more than once and then share it with everyone you can...parents too.Published 2 months ago by Marian
Until the Federal Government is taken out of education and the responsibility for public education is returned to the States and local communities, and all government employee... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Brian Bishko
Neoliberal corporate propaganda at its finest. Privatize schools, turn students into commodities, break unions, deskill the teaching profession through alternate pathways, slash... Read morePublished 3 months ago by S. McGregor
An interesting documentary, Waiting for Superman explores the inefficiency of the American educational system and the human tragedy that generates. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Maria
While there is clear bias and a certain right wing agenda, it makes a great film for students to analyze as a visual argument. I use it in my College Composition class.Published 3 months ago by J. M. Schreffler