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A school superintendent's response to Waiting for "Superman"

October 26, 2010  |  Admin
Waiting for "Superman" is a powerful and compelling documentary which exposes the present failure of public school education in the United States, particularly in urban areas characterized by debilitating social pathologies.

Director Davis Guggenheim attributes much of the educational dysfunction to bloated, incompetent school administrations and to negotiated teacher contracts that protect the welfare of union members at the expense of the children they serve. Contrasting many of the harsh truths about public school education to the apparent success of five public charter schools, the filmmaker makes a strong case for school reform. The film strikes an emotional chord and is persuasive in its intent; however, in reality, it portrays a one-sided, fractured fairytale.

Director Guggenheim does not illustrate the exceptional performance being achieved in countless public schools across the nation. He does not emphasize enough the current statistical measure that indicates only 17 percent of all charter schools outperform traditional public schools. Nor does he acknowledge the diminishing outcomes now evident in some of the very charter schools featured in his documentary. These are troubling omissions that mislead his audience. These are facts that reinforce "Superman" still has not arrived, leaving us to speculate on what are the best reform options for public schools. Is reform truly necessary? Absolutely. Are charter schools the panacea for what ails us? Probably not.

-- Concetta Raimondi, Ed.D.
MSD of Lawrence Township

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