waiting_for_superman_xlg.jpg
Waiting for Superman is a documentary about the failure of the American educational system, and it's compelling. It's hard to watch the movie and not feel outraged—the film points fingers directly at bad teachers, complaining that it's impossible to fire them thanks to out-of-control teachers unions. But once you leave the theater, you start to notice some discrepancies.

Support The Stranger

The pat answer the filmmakers arrive at, very early on, is: It's the bad teachers, stupid! This feels overly simple. For instance, all the parents in the film are perfect: They work long hours to send their kids to private school or tutoring. They research every alternative possible to get their kids to better schools. They support their kid's educations wholeheartedly. Never once does Superman even begin to suggest that any of the problems of our educational system might be due to lack of interest on behalf of the parents. This is probably savvy filmmaking—you wouldn't pay to see a documentary that explicitly identifies you as a problem, would you?—but it feels as though an enormous part of the issue isn't addressed. To point fingers at a union and suggest that workers' rights are the sole source of difficulty makes me feel itchy on an ideological level.

Waiting for Superman is all done at SIFF, but it'll open in wide release this fall. It should at least prompt an interesting discussion.