Tuesday, October 26, 2010


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WAITING FOR SUPERMAN is an eye-opening, at times heartwarming, at times heartbreaking documentary that surveys the history and current landscape of public education in the United States (alas, there are a lot of sinkholes and few peaks).

The film approaches the subject from two vantage points: from that of young students and their parents seeking the best quality education available to them in their circumstances, and from that of motivated educators and policy makers seeking to reform and reinvent the practice of education. On the educator side, we learn about the success of the Harlem Children's Zone, follow the progress of the KIPP schools, and find out about some unpopular tactics employed to reform the D.C. school system. The educators responsible for these charter schools and measures are proving that educational success for *supposedly* hopeless students IS possible. On the student side, we meet a half dozen grade school kids (wonderfully earnest and charming) across the country who have the opportunity to win a spot, via lottery, in a non-standard public school option that will significantly improve their odds of going on to college. That that is even an issue is a telling sign, and the filmmakers fill in the blanks for us with the highlights, or rather, lowlights, of the educational system's failures, introducing us to the terms "dropout factory," "lemon dance," and "rubber room." Some reform is attempted within and some outside of the existing bureaucratic and administrative structures, which prove highly resistant to change. Not surprising, given that they are based on a foundation that was mostly laid in the post-war era, when expectations of high school graduates were very different from those of today's.

Blerg. I'm doing a crummy job trying to summarize without "spoiling," so I'm gonna quit and tell you what you need to know: YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM!

If you're not careful, you might learn something before it's done. =)

Keep on keepin on~

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