Documentary uncovers major flaws in public education system

Christine Klee

Thanks to continuous protests happening in California, we all know what is wrong with higher education. But if you want to know what is wrong with the public education system (K-12), watch “Waiting for Superman.” This documentary might be to education what “An Inconvenient Truth” was to climate change – the movie that brought everyone’s attention to the issue.

This documentary follows five children and their families, as they try to get into better schools. Anthony lives in Washington D.C., the worst school district in all of America – children there continuously have the lowest scores on reading proficiency and math tests.

Daisy, a fifth grader from Los Angeles, wants to be a doctor or a nurse some day. She is working hard and doing well in school, but her parents fear that the school system is failing her.

Bianca is only in kindergarten, but she already goes to a more expensive private school because her mother is worried about her future.

Francisco gets help from his mother and a tutor, yet his teacher says he doesn’t read well.

While Emily might seem well off, as her parents are middle-class and live in the suburbs, her future is still in peril. The public high school she is supposed to attend might put her on a track that leads away from college and towards minimum-wage jobs.

These children serve as examples of how the public school system of today fails our children, but there is hope. This hope comes in form of educators and government officials who are trying to change the system.

Geoffrey Canada is one of educators interviewed during the movie and a great example of how the status-quo could be changed. Canada started working as a teacher and thought he could fix schools within two years, but quickly learned that change takes time. Yet, he has conceived a system in which low-income children receive all the support they need and make it to college, despite the obstacles they face in their young lives and using the same budget as all other public schools.

Michelle Rhee was appointed chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public school system in 2007, as the 10th superintendent in only seven years. She has had some success changing the system, but is fighting against powerful interest groups.

David Guggenheim, the director of both “Waiting for Superman” and “An Inconvenient Truth”, does what he does extremely well – he shows with statistics and research how big of a problem exists, puts faces to the people suffering, and then proves that there is another way.

This documentary is far from dull and will make viewers want to change the system right then and there. And maybe that is exactly what America needs – people, not just parents, willing to fight for the future of all children.