If you were to ask a teacher which film they hate the most, Dangerous Minds might be at the top of that list. The film’s oversimplification of reaching students makes any parent think they know what it’s like to be at the head of the classroom. By way of contrast, the documentary Waiting for ‘Superman’ could become a teacher’s favorite film–though it might depend on their own standing as a good or bad teacher–for the way the doc dives headfirst into the systemic issues of public education.
The film’s premise is that several children are waiting for their number to be called in a lottery, which will mean they get accepted into a “good” school. The trailer seems overly dramatic (more like a game show than anything in real life), but it turns out to be true. The problem is that if there are more applicants to charter schools than positions available, a public lottery must be held: names drawn at random receive their acceptance into one of these charter institutions (schools which receive public funding, but aren’t beholden to district rule). As the film lays out the failings of public schools and the costly nature of private education, charter schools come out looking like the DMZ of this educational battlefield. Continue reading