Written by AMELIA SKACZKOWSKI
Movie: Waiting for Superman
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Starring: The Black Family, Geoffrey Canada and The Esparza Family
Waiting for “Superman”, a new documentary by academy award winning director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth), analyses the consequences of the American public school system on the students it educates. The film follows five struggling students who hope to break out of this system and gain admission, through the ludicrous scheme of a lottery, into a higher standard School (a Charter School). The film contends that a good education need not be obstructed by uneducated parents, crime and drug infused neighbourhoods or poverty. Ultimately, Guggenheim questions the belief that struggling neighbourhoods produce struggling students, suggesting rather that it is struggling schools that produce struggling students who in turn produce struggling neighbourhoods.
Guggenheim, who narrates and directs the film, highlights the psychological and economical impact of such an education when interviewing students, their families, teachers and public advocates as well as using statistics that show the extent to which public schools are cheating students of a decent education. For example, in Washington DC, 40 % of students will not graduate on time and those students who don’t complete school at all are eight times more likely to go to jail. For those of you who would rather lick a tree than discuss statistics, don’t fret, Guggenheim uses easy to understand diagrams and cute cartoons to explain the magnitude of damage this system is causing.
The unravelling story increases in complexity when Guggenheim illustrates the stumbling blocks prohibiting an education system reform; blocks such as Teachers Unions, which prevent teachers, both the good and the ugly, from losing their jobs.
Despite the power and affluence of the US, out of 30 developed nations American public schools are ranked number 25 in mathematics and number 21 in science; American public schools, they really are an inconvenient truth.
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