Saturday, March 05, 2011

Waiting for Superman (2010)





Surprisingly, filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, who also directed the grossly deceptive and objectionable Gore-eee film, Inconvenient Truth, turns around and creates a somewhat honest picture of education in the U.S. today. The picture of education in America ain’t at all pretty. In fact, it is very disturbing.

Despite billions of dollars being thrown at the bureaucracy supposedly trying to improve education, it is merely further destroying the system. When any real reformers attempt to change the system they are met with roadblocks. These roadblocks include those put up by the teacher unions, namely and mainly the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The movie clearly shows the true nature of the unions when the new Superintendent of a major school system tried to implement change.

Contrary to their flowing rhetoric, the selfish, corrupt labor unions react negatively at every turn to reforms, especially anything that threatened the almighty unions’ privileged position and curbing its power. In the end they care little or nothing about the students, only in perpetuating their evil political power and agenda.

Waiting for Superman is a documentary. It follows the lives of a half of a dozen students, who are trapped in poor performing neighborhood government schools. The movie points out that there are many substandard schools both in urban and suburban areas. For 40+ years public education has drastically decline compared to the rest of the industrialized, developed world. We once led the world with first-class education. Now we are second-rate also-rans.  We are failing miserably in math and science. It has caused us to import such professions as engineers.

There are a few schools that are doing the job. There are woefully few, however, good schools exist to give every student in need a place to excel. The movie does a good job in making a case for giving parents a choice in where to send their children. It showed several parents who care about the education of their children.

Also the movie accurately describes the role the teacher plays in the schools. The excellent teachers do not get the recognition, while poor performing teachers are coddled and protected by their unions. Both kinds of teacher provide motivation, one for good, one for not so good.

Public Education is an abject failure. The bright spots are the alternatives to public education, such as private schools and charter schools. Although, not mentioned, probably for political (PC and ideological bias of the movie maker) reasons, is the whole home school movement. A growing percentage of students are now being taught at home in lieu of the sad state of affairs of the government/union run schools.

What happened? It is not a lack of money. Much is even wasted on massive bureaucracy – i.e. the Federal and State Departments of Education and layers upon layers of other local bureaucrats. They siphon resources intended for real student instruction in the classroom. The bottom line, the excessive bureaucrats hinder rather than help the learning process. We must return to local control of our schools. Here is another area where the federal government has screwed things up. Now they want to “fix” healthcare and the finance industry? Yeah, right!

Lacking in the film is one important reason for the change, the fall. It was when the elites and their leftist anarchists decided that God needed to be purged from our public education system. That is literally when all hell broke loose. This was a big part of the story left out of the movie.

What is the conclusion of the movie? We don’t need a superman, we need serious reformation. I agree, we need reformation, but we need to instill morality, character, and values back into the schools. What we have now is an atheistic, propaganda generator with little real education going on.

RATING

I would rate the movie a *** ½ out of *****. It was a good attempt at capturing the state of education in America, at least some aspects of the problem. This is a big subject. Waiting for Superman provoked some thought and discussion. 

Rent the movie and get a very troubling, sober view of our overall system. You get just a hint of what is needed to repair this tragically broken system. Despite its shortcomings, the movie does identify some of the basic problem that exist in our education system. It also hints at the solutions. It’s a starting point.

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