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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


‘Waiting for Superman’ puts focus on America’s education system

Oprah Winfrey dedicated two days of her show to speaking out about the broken education in America. The same week, Oprah donated $6 million to six different schools across the country.

Anthony, right, and his grandmother, Gloria, are members of a family that is featured in “Waiting for Superman.” | Public Education Pictures

The conversation about this country’s poor education system has been going on for years, but the attention toward it has increased due to Davis Guggenheim’s latest film, “Waiting for Superman.”

David Guggenheim, director and producer of the environmentally conscious movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” has already sparked up many conversations and controversy with “Waiting for Superman.”

The film focuses on reminding the audience that America continues to have a weak public education system, which is not getting better.

The story is told through five kids from across the country who experience the weakness of the system. In their search a for better education, these kids are placed in a lottery — whether they get picked or not is the difference between them going to college or jail.

“We cannot let that be an excuse of generalization and that just means we have to double our efforts and adapt to these problems,” said Guggenheim.

He praised the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools across the nation that lead their schools by the proverb of “No Excuses” and mentions that the country needs more programs like Teach for America, that produces teachers who are willing “to roll up their sleeves” and take matters into their own hands.

Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system Michelle Rhee and Bill Gates are interviewed in the documentary, along with other prominent figures that are urging America to take action on this cause.

While some argue that Guggenheim outlines no real solution in the documentary, he does include a few options as beginning steps in the end credits.

Guggenheim also hopes college students play a role in improving the system, considering that they are some of the fortunate ones to have received proper public education.

Guggenheim is now taking on the challenge of getting people to come together for the benefit of the children. Guggenheim admits that he didn’t want to produce this film initially because he thought it was too difficult, but after learning that each year 1.2 million students fail to receive a high school diploma because the system is failing them, the issue became relevant to him.

A father of two himself, Guggenheim says that the problem became personal after his children began to attend school.

“Every day is relevant when you are handing off your children to another person from different schools, every morning you are taking a leap of faith,” Guggenheim said.

He added that the biggest inspiration for this movie was the memory of him asking his mother why he had to take a 40 minute bus ride to Virginia from D.C. every morning to go to another school.

His mother’s reply was, “Because our schools are broken.” That was in 1968.

The movie has received a great amount of attention and the topic has been properly labeled as the civil rights movement of our time because everyone in America deserves better education.

But teachers, among others, are enraged by the film and claim that he only focuses on the bad schools in the country, and that the public figures will now only worry about making better schools instead of fixing the bad ones.

To that statement Guggenheim replied, “I hope people watch this movie before they criticize it. After all, if it stays as part of their conversation then that’s all that matters. I may not be completely right, but it’s a step in that direction.”

The official “Waiting for Superman” website links to a pledge that more than 100,000 people have already agreed to.

The pledge is to simply go watch the movie and continue conversation about bettering our schools.

Every time a certain amount of pledges is met, money and books are donated and more attention is directed toward the cause. Simply going to watch this movie could help revolutionize the education America’s children receive on a daily basis.

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