Hell has officially frozen over: someone from the Goldwater Institute is urging you to go see a film by the director of Al Gore’s global warming movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Davis Guggenheim’s new documentary, Waiting for Superman, makes a compelling case for sweeping reform of the American K-12 education system.
Waiting for Superman focuses on admission lotteries held every year by several popular charter schools in different parts of the country. The movie’s central figures are low-income students seeking to escape badly performing inner city schools in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The makers of Waiting for Superman weave the students’ heartbreaking personal dramas into an overall presentation of the flaws of American public education.
When the documentary reaches its conclusion, the cameras are fixed on the faces of the students and their parents as they wait in quiet desperation at the lotteries. More and more numbers are called, and the odds against them grow longer and longer. It feels incredibly wrong to have the future hopes and dreams of children decided in such a fashion.
It feels wrong because it is wrong.
There is no Superman about to fly in and save them – only us. The kids need the adults to pull our heads out of the sand and get about the urgent business of improving America’s embarrassingly dysfunctional school system. Run, don’t walk, to see Waiting for Superman when it opens at theaters this week.
Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute.
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