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Will "Waiting for Superman" Save the Schools?

Gov. Granholm sitting just down the row from me at "Waiting for Superman."I was invited by the United Way for Southeastern Michigan to attend the movie “Waiting for Superman” on Monday night in Royal Oak. The movie, directed by Davis Guggenheim, is about “the current state of public education in the U.S. and how it is affecting our children.”

Yes, I put that last sentence in quotes because it comes directly from their website, it’s how they are marketing the movie, it’s their wording.

“Waiting for Superman” portends that a superhero is not going to swoop down and save our children and our educational system. The movie champions charter schools and the great thinkers of educational reform that run them.

I am not a parent. I am not an educator. And, I’m not a big thinker. I’m just one person who loves Detroit. It doesn’t take a big thinker to know that the Detroit Public School system is failing the community.

However, proclaiming charter schools as the answer is like putting a band-aid on a gushing wound. It’ll stop a few trickles of blood but it’s not going to stop the bleed. I have nothing against charter schools and the ones shown in the movie are amazing but we can’t turn our back on our public schools.

The movie is very well done; it’ll move you to tears and make you angry. You feel for the parents who just want a better life for their children. The children, Daisy, Francisco, Bianca, Emily, and Anthony will make your heart melt and your fists pump. The last chance for these children is a lottery, a one in a million shot, for a better education.

I took my cousin, a first grade teacher in a suburban school district, to see the movie with me to get a teachers perspective. One of the first things she said was, “the kids in the movie, they’re the lucky ones.” And she’s right, the children in the movie have a support system at home; their family wants better for them, so many kids don’t have that.

My cousin is a good teacher, I know this, but as the movie states not all teachers are good. She tells me that at the end of each school year her students are six months to a year ahead of their reading levels. The sad part is that at the end of the following year they remain at those same levels, no improvement, nothing gained.

So, it’s not just the DPS or inner city schools, public school systems everywhere have problems.

The band-aid will help a few students who are lucky enough to win the lottery but it won’t help the community as a whole. Matt Eder from, says in his post about driving through Detroit, “I could not relocate to current-day Detroit for two main reasons, safety and schools.” People won’t move into a city, any city, with failing public schools.

The gushing wound that is our public school system needs to be addressed and fixed.

What do we do? What are the answers? How do we stop the bleed?

I don’t know.

The United Way for Southeastern Michigan got involved because they want to jump-start the conversation. Teachers fighting against administrators fighting against unions fighting against politics is getting us nowhere. 

Get involved in the conversation. Or, do your own thing to make a difference. Just do something!

"Waiting for Superman" opens at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak on Friday.

Have you seen "Waiting for Superman"? What did you think? Do you know how we can improve our public school system? Share it with us!

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References (2)

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  • Response
    NFL is truly one particular of the greatest sports in America. It has a important following.
  • Response
    Response: college papers
    Really like your article admin. I haven’t seen this movie yet. But we can improve our schools systems if everyone will play its role for the betterment of the school system. Like it says little drops are heavy so with little efforts we can bring the improvements.

Reader Comments (4)

Well written, Becks. I see far too many people just falling into this charter stuff. For every successful charter school, I'll show you one failing it's students just as hard or worse than public school. Check out the stats on how many charters are actually closing down. Just google 'charter school closing' and a ton of stories come up.

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterToka313

Thanks Toka. I hope that the movie inspires people to make a positive change in their community.

October 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

One important point that shouldn't be overlooked, is that the hands of the public schools are tied. The comparison between public and charter schools is important b/c charter schools are trying new methods and approaches that are being proven successful. I feel the suggestion is what public schools are currently doing isn't working; and so their approach to teaching, to education needs to be radically changed. Unfortunately bc of union regulations there is very little wiggle room - even the most dedicated teacher can't make a difference beyond the year they have with their students - not unlike your cousin's situation. The suggestion isn't a charter school band-aid it's turning America's approach to education - the approach that hasn't changed over the last 60 years - on it's head. I think Waiting for Superman is more of a criticism (or attack) on the union, than on public school. It celebrates charters, not simply bc they are better, but bc they have the freedom to try something that works.

October 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterL. Sorenson


November 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMika N.

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