Went to see the movie ‘Waiting for Superman’ today and left the cinema angry, moved and determined. The film’s quiet hero, Geoffrey Canada, says in the first minute of the film that, ‘I cried the day my mom told me that Superman doesn’t exist.’ Point being that no-one else is going to come along and fix the problem of state schooling in America. We have to do it ourselves.
This is an infuriating movie filled with heart-breaking stories of failures and defects in the American system. Teachers, and in particular Teachers’ unions, are undoubtedly the villains of the piece as we follow the fortunes of five young kids hoping for a better future. What is clear is that the American public school system is a disaster. Teachers with ‘tenure’ – a job for life after two years of teaching regardless of competence it would seem – are seen reading newspapers in the classroom while kids do as they like; Unions blocking change in any form.
While the director sensitively deals with the five kids and their families, it seems that none of those involved in the system seemed to want to talk about the future of the kids. Red tape, endless admin, in-fighting and politics seems to ensure that more than half of all students in America are almost guaranteed to fail at school. A frightening thought.