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Waiting for "Superman" (2010)

Geoffrey Canada , Michelle Rhee , Davis Guggenheim  |  PG |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)

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WAITING FOR "SUPERMAN" WAITING FOR "SUPERMAN" 4.1 out of 5 stars (325)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee
  • Directors: Davis Guggenheim
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount Vantage
  • DVD Release Date: February 15, 2011
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003Q6D28C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,027 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Waiting for "Superman"" on IMDb

Special Features

Four additional inspiring teacher/student stories
Changing the Odds: A look at innovative programs that are changing public education
Public Education Updates: Changes which have taken place since the making of the film
A Conversation with Davis Guggenheim
The Future Is In Our Classrooms
The Making of "Shine": the film’s title track by musician John Legend Commentary by Director Davis Guggenheim and Producer Lesley Chilcott

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

In a documentary sure to get parents and teachers talking--and arguing--An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim offers an eye-opening overview of America's ailing educational system. Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, serves as his primary speaker. As a kid in the Bronx, Canada learned that Superman didn't exist, which broke his heart, but also inspired him to help other underprivileged children. Aside from Canada and Washington, DC, school chancellor Michelle Rhee, Guggenheim profiles Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, engaging young people without access to institutions adequate to their needs (Guggenheim concentrates on the inner city). Bianca's single mother, for instance, sends her daughter to a private facility in New York, but that ends when she can no longer afford the tuition. The five families choose the charter school option, but not every child will win the lottery, since applicants outnumber spaces (in Bianca's case, 767 apply for 35 slots). Guggenheim also questions teachers' unions, which sometimes act against the best interests of students. He's particularly concerned about underperforming instructors who suffer no disciplinary measures due to tenure, but he credits the dedicated professionals who help at-risk kids beat the odds. The film ends with a potentially happy outcome for one subject, but updates on the others fail to materialize. After investing in their stories, it's natural to expect more information. Guggenheim otherwise provides a persuasive argument that involved parents will always have an advantage over those who accept whatever comes their way--no matter how ineffective. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Product Description

From the Academy Award-winning Director of An Inconvenient Truth comes the groundbreaking feature film that provides an engaging and inspiring look at public education in the United States. Waiting For “Superman” has helped launch a movement to achieve a real and lasting change through the compelling stories of five unforgettable students such as Emily, a Silicon Valley eighth-grader who is afraid of being labeled as unfit for college and Francisco, a Bronx first-grader whose mom will do anything to give him a shot at a better life. Waiting For “Superman” will leave a lasting and powerful impression that you will want to share with your friends and family.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
223 of 271 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why are we failing? How do we succeed? October 8, 2010
By David
Format:DVD
One of the most remarkable components of the film was the discussion of a proposal of Michelle Rhee -- the Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system -- to pay teachers in the district up to $140k based on merit, if tenure would be ended in the district. In the world capital of democracy, the teacher union leaders refused to let this proposal go to a union vote.

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.

- - -

* Tenure started with professors at universities.
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101 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We have to be our own Superman October 10, 2010
By Robin
Format:DVD
In Waiting for Superman, David Guggenheim's riviting documentary about America's school systems, he asks the question many parents have been asking. If our teachers are central to the performance of a school, how can we reconcile poor performance with an uncritical view of teachers? Are bad schools only in slums? Can children brought up in poverty excel in school?

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.
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277 of 365 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading and wrought with omissions... December 4, 2010
Format:DVD
I recommend seeing this documentary for the stories and indelible images (the lottery at the end will stay with you), but I encourage viewers to keep in mind a few facts that the documentary either overlooks or mentions only briefly. It is these omissions that will allow most viewers to leave with two spurious conclusions:

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.
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