Is Arizona Waiting for “Superman”?

Waiting for Superman follows several students seeking to escape underperforming inner city schools in New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. The filmmakers weave heartbreaking personal drama into an overall presentation of the flaws of the nation’s education system. Together, these themes are incredibly powerful and mutually reinforcing.

To their credit, the filmmakers examine educational issues outside the easy pickings of dysfunctional inner city schools. They also spend some time following a middle-income charter school applicant from a suburban district school reeking of money but offering only academic mediocrity. This portion of the film drew from the “Not as Good as You Think” research of the Pacific Research Institute, and it ably demonstrates the pervasive nature of our K-12 education crisis.

Guggenheim skillfully weaves short interviews with experts such as Michelle Rhee, Howard Fuller, Lance Izumi, and Geoffrey Canada into the narrative of the film. As the documentary reaches its conclusion, the cameras fix on the faces of the students and parents waiting in quiet desperation at the lotteries. More and more numbers are called, and the odds against the protagonists grow longer and longer.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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