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.
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