The film was an exhaustive documentary about how America’s public school has degraded which in part can be attributed to policy maker’s neglect and the teacher’s recalcitrant stance against any progressive suggestion that could improve America’s public school system as it now lags behind in terms of STEM performance (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) among developed countries. This sorry state of America’s educational system is narrated against the backdrop of America’s policy of No Child Left Behind which was supposed to provide quality education and opportunity to every child in America. To highlight the disconnect between policy and actual sorry state reality of America’s educational system, the story followed the story of five children as they attempt to get a decent education from good schools – which are the charter and magnet schools. These charter schools provide quality education with the right assistance for the learner only that it is not provided to every child in America. In fact, it has to be won through a lottery which in effect, the film depicted that the children’s future in America, especially those who are underprivilidged, rest not on the putative policy of No Child Left Behind but rather on chance depending on the bingo caller’s reel or randomized computer program which made the whole situation not only disgusting but sad. (Prisco). This is the situation where Geoffrey Canada and Michele A. Rhee came where they have to put up against reactionary system and hostile union to do what is right for America’s public school system, at least in their respective jurisdictions, to improve them. Mr. Canada was an untiring educational reformer who was not discouraged by the surrounding of Harlem to put up a school that provides quality education and sends students into college. It was difficult but through persistence and standing against all odds, Mr. Canada was able to overcome funding difficulties to make the Harlen Children’s Zone school operational. Ms. Rhee equally did a daunting task being the Chancellor of Washington D.C. public school system where she vehemently challenged the current status quo of America’s educational system. Doing the right thing with her job meant making unpopular decisions and standing up against the deeply entrenched teacher’s union. In carrying out these tough decision, she has to make a very unpopular decision of closing ineffective schools who are described in the film as “academic sinkholes” and “drop out factories” (Waiting for Superman). This was to give way to performing schools to have more resources and provide quality education for children. She also has to stand up against the union who would vilify her because the teacher’s union exalt teachers no matter how ineffectual nor incompetent they are to be heroes and therefore they should not be fired even if they underperform. Ms. Rhee was just a single person but she had to put against an organized union that made up virtually impossible to fire a teacher who had gained tenure after two years of teaching. This system of making it impossible to fire incompetent teachers after gaining tenure is one of the reasons why America’s public school system is deteriorating. If the education system has to improve, this meant standing up against them. They are so protective of their tenure even if it contributed to the deterioration of the public school system that when a proposal was offerred to exchange tenure for merit that would enable teacher’s higher pay, the Washington Teachers’
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The movie Waiting for Superman was a documentary film about the dismal state of America’s educational system. It was directed and directed by a familiar personality Davis Guggenheim who incidentally also narrated another documentary about the environmental degration documentary An Inconvenient Truth. …
Alarming statistics are presented in decades of flatlining in national dailies, science and math scores; America’s standing low compared with other countries; the high rate of dropout in urban public high schools and union contract guaranteeing tenures.
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2 pages (500 words)Movie Review
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