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Davis Guggenheim’s WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN”

The LAFF Premiere of Davis Guggenheim's WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN” was on Monday, June 21st, Celebrities attending include: Jerry O’Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Pamela Reed (Jericho), Jay Roach (Producer), Elisabeth Rohm (Law & Order), Lesley Ann Warren (In Plain Sight), Cheryl Hines, Brett Ratner, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood). There was another Gala screening and Conversation with John Legend, director Davis Guggenheim, and school expert Gregory Canada, who is featured in the film the following night. WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN is a documentary account of the historic and present state of our school system in America. Public education was a ground breaking effort that had never been done before. It declared that it was a national priority to educate our children and prepare them for the world they would inherit. It helped foster the growth of the middle class and fueled our economic prosperity. Now we are finding that other nations are doing a far better job of educating their children than we are and this threatens our economy and democracy. Only through a well educated citizenry can we protect our way of life and the form of government that it is based upon.

Education Reformer/President & CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, Geoffrey Canada said in 1971 he thought it would take him a few years to change the school system around. He also once believed in Superman. He and many other's are still working on it. We are spending $33,000 per student and many students continue to drop out of school around the country. We need good teachers. Part of the problem is that teachers once tenured can easily reach a point where they no longer care about the quality of their work. This happens for many reasons some teachers fail because of too large student versus teacher ratios, discipline problems, inadequite school supplies or pay, lack of up to date books or simple exhaustion. Whatever the reason the result is disasterous for the student.

School Superintendent Michelle Rhee tried to change this in Washington, D.C. and fired many teachers and closed schools in an effort to improve over all quality by sending a wake up call to all involved. She suggested to the union that there should be incentives to potentially double the wages of teachers based on performance. The union overwhelmingly voted her down. There appears to be a bureaucratic system which has held back progress for years. The U.S. has fallen behind in recent years in math and science. There are new types of schools emerging which offer hope and opportunity. The Seed school is one boarding school and Charter schools are proving that with care and proper instruction students will be able to compete with the rest of world for jobs. Because of the limited number of these new schools students at this time depend on lotteries to have a chance to get in.

This is another well crafted film from the director of the Academy Award winning documentary AnInconvenient Truth, and everyone should see it to better understand how we can make positive change to improve the future of American children in this country. Money can be better spent to educate and uplift lower income children. We can make a difference but it requires that we take the time to learn what can be done and stay engaged in reforming the system. Programs with fancy names that pretend to change the status quo are not what is needed. We all have to make the choice that the system we have doesn't work and needs to be replaced.

by Marla Lewin

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