Saturday, October 16, 2010

Waiting For Superman

The Film: Waiting For Superman

The Peeps: Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, George Reeves, Bill Gates, Anthony, Daisy, Emily, Bianca and Francisco.

The Dealio: The state of public schools in America gets ready for its close-up in this documentary which interweaves the back stories of representational children from across the US with facts, figures and lots of talking heads. If you are looking to be lifted up by film's end- this is not the movie for you. If you are looking to be shaken AND stirred, look no further.
The film makers introduce the viewers to 5 very different kids. We, who are watching, become invested in this one or that. Then comes the (repeated) moment of truth when the almighty, moment of truth lottery drawings are played out, against the backdrop of various venues. There are tears - of joy and relief, and of bitter disappointment. Swooping in close to the face of one little girl- fingers and arms crossed and tears running down her face- I wanted to scream in frustration for her agony and tenuous hope.

The Grading Session: 4.09 pengies out of 5. This earnest little movie really needed a bit more editing, as some of the sequences went on for far too long, re-explaining concepts that had already been driven home quite smartly minutes before. The soundtrack was fine, but I felt myself bristling at the use of An American Idiot during an early sequence, then wondered if I was being overly sensitive.

Lessons Learned: Lots of visionary people, in high viz positions, are trying to put things right in the arena of public education, using innovative and game-changing strategies.
Also: am I the only one to experience tentatively rising hope from the rapid-fire photo gallery of prominent people- including Presidents, presidents of companies, artists, astronauts and scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, public figures and bona fide geniuses- who all went to public school.
Lastly: apparently, the #1 reason our schools are in such dire straits (sorry, Dire Straits!) is that unions appear to be using tenure to protect bad teachers' and principals' job security. Whether this is actually true or an unjust over-simplification, I defy you to watch this portion and not feel your blood begin to boil.
Is there anything we, the concerned, can do to help? There is always something. A suggestion? Start by voting all the issues- but only after getting some education on them.

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