‘Waiting for Superman’ explores the corruption of the American public education system

Tyler Mead, Staff Reporter

Here at Tulane, students can forget how lucky we’ve been our entire lives. Good schools, supportive teachers and a little luck contributed to where we are today. Unfortunately, not every student can be so lucky.

At 7 p.m. Sept. 24 the award-winning documentary “Waiting for Superman” will screen at Jones Hall in room 102. The film is being shown as part of the Tulane Reading Project.

“Waiting for Superman,” directed by Davis Guggenheim of “An Inconvenient Truth” fame, aims to show the public how problematic things have gotten for students in the United States. Guggenheim uses a mixture of interviews, animated info pieces and testimonials from parents and students to bring light to this troubling topic.

He explores the realm of public schools where the teacher’s union has made it impossible to fire even the most apathetic of educators. The curriculum tailored to standardized tests is also scrutinized, along with the No Child Left Behind Act. This toxic mix of poor instruction and rigid standard of achievement has created what the director calls “dropout factories:” institutions of learning that have more dropouts than graduates.

These failing public schools are juxtaposed with the far more progressive small charter schools. The charter schools offer an alternative learning process that seems to help children, but due to lack of funding enrollment depends on a costly price and a complex lottery system.

The film features an in-depth interview with former chancellor of Washington public schools, Michelle Rhee. Rhee explained that every change to the school system she tried to make was stonewalled, illustrating the difficulty of changing the school systems anywhere.

The film is being shown to broaden the conversation of the summer reading programs book, Sara Carr’s “Hope Against Hope.” Carr explains how the charter schools in Louisiana have hurt both students and teachers by displacing many of the local Louisiana-born teachers, and replacing them with Teach For America volunteers with little to no common grounds with their students.

“Waiting for Superman” has received awards in documentary filmmaking by both Sundance  and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. It leaves viewers shocked with the state of the current school system, and sounds an alarm for nationwide reform.