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Waiting For Superman Review

Recently Melinda and I received a Blu Ray copy of Waiting for Superman for review.  I was excited because this was a movie I wanted to see for a long time but just never got around to it. I’m glad I did.

Waiting for Superman is a movie showing us just how messed up our education system is and how hard it is for children to get a good education.  It shows how good teachers run into the system which holds them back from being the best they can be while bad teachers are protected by the system.

One of the sad things about Waiting for Superman was the lottery system.  This happens when kids want to go to a better school but there are not enough spots for the number of applicants that have applied.   The crazy thing is you see this happening all over the US.  When we first moved to Delaware we wanted to get Sabreena into a program at her high school called the Cambridge Program.  It is a two year program for honor level students that you need to apply to via an application that contains essay questions.  Your grades are also taken into consideration.  Sabreena her whole life has been a straight A student so we figured she would get in with no problems but we were very wrong.  Sabreena was not accepted and it had nothing to do with her grades it had to do with available spots.  It’s ashame that students need to compete to get a good quality education but unfortunately that is how our school systems work.

Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim reminds us that education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN.

If you want a real look into America’s school system watch Wating for Superman.  It’s a real eye opener.

I Disclose


  1. I’ve never heard of this but I’d like to check it out because unfortunately it’s all very true. : (

  2. I’ve wanted to see this as well, just added to my Netflix queue. I know how true this is and it’s sad:(

  3. I had heard the title of the film but I didn’t know what it was about, so thank you!

  4. I need to check out this movie – I’ve heard good things about it but have been warned that it will get my blood boiling! I just turned in an application this morning to try to get my older son into one of the 2 local advanced studies academies in our area. He’ll be in first grade next year, and there is ONE SPOT available in first grade at each of the 2 schools for next year. It’s disheartening…

    • I agree with you. It was sad and got me mad all at the same time. The USA is a super power but our kids can’t seem to get the best education that they deserve. Go Figure!

  5. I agree with you. It was sad and got me mad all at the same time. The USA is a super power but our kids can’t seem to get the best education that they deserve. Go Figure!

  6. I really want to see this. I was talking with some moms that live in California and they say it’s just like this. It’s awful and they do everything they can to make sure their kids get into a good school!

  7. What is most sad is that students are not even competing in a lottery. It is just random luck between a group of students that all meet the minimum criteria for acceptance.

  8. Karianne SIs says

    I am a public school teacher. I have taught in inner-city schools and rural midwestern schools. I am very passionate about education and absolutely agree that millions of American children are getting short changed. However – this film, by focusing almost exclusively on charter schools and vilifying teachers’ unions, is EXTREMELY short-sighted in identifying the factors that caused this crisis and identifying solutions for the majority of American children – those that don’t get into the charter schools shown.

    If you watch this movie – do your research. Don’t take it at face value. In fact only one in five charter schools consistently performs better than public. And there are some public schools, even in impoverished neighborhoods, that consistently perform above the national average. The movie repeatedly compares the U.S. to FInland – but guess what? FInland’s teachers are unionized. Finland has a 3 percent child poverty rate, compared to 22 percent here. And guess what else? Universal preschool, healthcare, and social programs to support children and families are the norm there. Sounds an awful lot like Geoffrey Canada’s featured Harlem Children’s Zone to me.

    The movie talks about how money is not the answer – but neglects to tell you how much the charter schools featured are spending per pupil compared to public schools. It neglects to compare teacher salaries or discuss their recruitment, and ongoing training and preperation. It neglects to mention that many charter schoolteachers are unionized. It tells you that only “1 in 2500” teachers lose their credentials for poor performance compared to doctors and lawyers, but nowhere does it mention that over HALF of the people who enter the teaching field leave (voluntarily) within five years because of the poor working conditions, huge class sizes, low salaries, and, I believe, most importantly, disillusionment. It is so frustrating to know that your very best efforts are making, at best, only the smallest dent in such an enormous problem.

    Across America, public school districts are coping with budgets that are slashed year after year, in addition to reductions in social welfare services that help support many of the poorest and neediest children like those featured in the film. Schools are not only supposed to educate, but also feed, clothe, counsel, coach, and parent. In Minnesota, governer Tim Pawlenty revoked public school funding to balance the budget, promising to give it back after the start of the new fiscal year. He never did. In Wisconsin, governer Scott Walker wants to drastically reduce public school budgets again…..and then make it impossible for local districts to even raise a tax levy to cover the gap.

    Until the nation prioritizes education with its wallet and its whole heart, this will continue. NO ONE should accept that this is okay for other people’s children as long as theirs win the lottery.

    If this film touches your heart – I urge you. Look for ways to support public education. Volunteer. Raise money. Read something by Jonathan Kozol. Question politics and power. Support your local students and teachers with your voice and your vote.

    • I think Finland also has children stay home till they’re about 7 so the children have a stronger emotional foundation before they go to school. Part of the problem in the U.S. is that we rip children away from parents at such a young age before they are ready to go to school and have that level of independence.

      As for unions though, they are a huge problem. Unions used to have a role in protecting teachers, but that’s not their purpose anymore. It’s all about maintaining and growing their power. It’s not about the children or the teachers anymore.

      • I agree…Teachers Unions are evil…They have rendered down our education system to political indoctrination camps…Many children today can not recite the pledge of allegiance but can sing the Obama “yes we can song”….It’s hard to say all public sector teachers are like this but in the same note it’s hard not to…the proof is in the pudding…and the pudding stinks…

  9. Karianne SIs says

    No offense, but can I ask what the proof in your pudding is that teacher’s unions are directly responsible for the decline of public education? I want replicable studies that show that schools in places where teachers are NOT unionized consistently perform better over a period of 3-5 years than places with unionized teachers. How does your anecdote of not reciting the pledge of allegiance prove that teacher’s unions are “evil,”? Or that teachers in unions don’t care about the kids?

    I do not dispute the fact that there are mediocre and bad teachers that need to go. But, believe it or not, principals CAN fire a unionized teacher if you have the balls and the documentation to do it. Part of the problem is that people with the drive to work 60+ hour weeks for 40 hour pay are not knocking down the doors in droves to teach public school. And those who do have a 50 percent chance of not lasting 5 years because the working conditions and pay are often so terrible.

    And you can’t measure everything about good teaching with test scores. There are SO MANY FACTORS that influence test scores that are not and cannot be reported accurately to the public.

    • I am sorry if I offended you…I do however have a learned opinion on this subject in that I have had over 30 foster children in the last 20+ years and have spent countless hours in and out of our public school system in attempts to get my foster children’s educational needs met…I know what it’s like to encourage a child that is challenged socially and in some cases developmentally delayed….Some of the children I cared for 24/7 were unacceptable to many of the teachers that were entrusted with educating them…In many cases It took more skill to get what I needed from the teachers than it did from the child. I would also like to add the professionalism in our public schools is lacking to say the least..At times I couldn’t tell the teachers from the students in that they had tattoos and piercing and dressed like a teen wanna be…I never had a chance for an education. I went to work when I was 10 yrs old. The last grade I completed was the 3rd grade. So please excuse me that I take this very personal in that the last teacher I had explained to me that I was a “BUM” and that I “Would Never Amount to Anything”….Personally I think that is a lot of information for a 9 yr old to take in and would have been better spent encouraging me to learn…If I had children of my own, I would do what ever it took to keep them OUT of our public school system.

  10. Karianne SIs says

    I am sorry that you have had such a poor experience with a public school teacher as a child and foster parent. I am sure you probably have also had poor experiences at some point with doctors, mechanics and cashiers. That doesn’t mean the entire category of people are bad, or solely responsible for larger social problems.

    I teach special ed, and work daily with kids who are severely impacted by their disabilities (and, in some cases, life circumstances) emotionally and socially. I work my backside off and spend thousands of dollars of my own money and thousands of hours of my own unpaid time trying to get my kids what they need and trying to make sure they have a place where they feel safe and valued. I do it because I love my kids dearly and care very deeply about their well-being and success. So you can see how I take it personally being lumped into a broader category as an “evil” teacher because I happen to belong to a union.

    My union deals mostly with things like trying to make sure we have thirty minutes of prep time and the ability to use the bathroom at some point during the school day. I have never once been told what to teach by a union or encouraged or threatened to support a particular political candidate or point of view, personally or in my classroom. Two years in a row, a union I belonged to voted to LOWER teachers’ salaries to keep class sizes small – because we care about what happens to the kids. The state and federal governments certainly aren’t supporting schools with dollars – so teachers do. Again and again and again.

    Like I said before…..I don’t dispute that there are bad teachers who need to go. I had a few myself. But the movie Waiting for Superman, which is the original topic of this post vastly oversimplified the problem.

    It is politically “cool” right now to blame teachers and particularly unions for everything wrong with American education (and I completely agree, as I said in my first post, that there are major major problems with the educational system) – but doing away with unions, as the movie implies, will not magically “fix” them, nor will they guarantee that every classroom in every school will have an excellent teacher.

    And no one has shown me any compelling evidence, statistical or otherwise, that teachers’ UNIONS are pervasively, solely, directly, or even majorly responsible for the decline in American public education. If unions are the problem, you’d expect states without unions to be near the top of the pack. Of the ten states that do not have teachers’ unions, only one (Virginia) cracks the median range nationwide in SAT scores All the rest are in the bottom half and 7 of the 9 remaining states are in the bottom 15.

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