Students Still “Waiting for Superman”
by The Milton Measure on Friday, September 16th, 2011
In the film “Waiting for Superman,” educator Geoffrey Canada shares that “one of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me ‘Superman’ did not exist…I was crying because no one was coming with enough power to save us.”
No one was coming with x-ray vision to see and reward the good teachers. No one was coming with the superhuman strength to abolish “dropout factories,” or severely under-performing schools. No one bulletproof was coming to defend the children without enough money to pay for a good school. No Superman is coming to save the state of education today.
“Waiting for Superman,” released in 2010, documents the deteriorating conditions of American public schools. The movie follows five families from varying backgrounds and school districts as they apply for public schools. Interspersed between the scenes are animated graphs and statistics which show the decline in the school system in more concrete terms.
No one – not the schools, school boards, teachers, teacher’s union, or the government–is safe from the criticism of director Davis Guggenheim. Guggenheim addresses many common misconceptions, such as the idea that failing neighborhoods
create failing schools, and turns them on their head, showing that it is often the other way around-in fact, failing schools create failing neighborhoods.
With bad teachers who do not care about the students’ future, parents find it difficult to provide their children with a proper education. Through struggles with money and harsh rejection, the families in the movie bring forth an emotional sentiment that tears at the heart
Following the students as they explain their dreams, display their determination, and fight for a better education, the final tense moments come when the five students wait to see if they are chosen in the lottery for select public schools and charter schools.
Charter schools receive public money but are privately run. Because of this, they have limited spots, which are often decided by lottery. For many students, these lotteries are the last chance to escape the failing public school system.
Upon first hearing about it from Class I councilor Henry Green, our head monitors researched the movie and decided it was a good choice, “[to] generate discussion and debate on an issue important outside of the “Milton Bubble” as Tom Schnoor said.
A concern when considering “Waiting for Superman” was how the movie portrayed public schools. Tom felt that “having attended very good public schools for ten years before Milton, I wanted to make sure that the movie didn’t completely rip apart public schools. But I think for the most part, the movie stayed away from generalizations.”
People have voiced their opinions on the subject today in class day discussion groups. As Tom went on to say, “I hope that people either really agree, or really disagree with the movie. It’s a movie that takes a firm stand on a very debatable issue and hopefully people will be interested enough to learn a little more about education.”
“Waiting for Superman” emphasizes the state of education today. Sympathizing with the students in the movie presented awareness of the issues faced in the struggle for a decent education. Seeing the conditions of other schools provided appreciation for the school we attend and an awakening from the indifference we sometimes feel for our school. Waiting for the happy ending that does not come electrifies us to want to make a difference, and the makers of the movie act upon that desire by repeatedly showing “Txt Possible to 77177” during the credits.
While this movie inspires us to take advantage of all the opportunities we are granted and broaden our perspective of the world past ourselves, its last lines call for action: “Great schools won’t come from winning the lottery, or ‘superman’. They will come from you.”
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=1427