Davis Guggenheim, director of ‘Waiting for Superman’ has asked for and received some feedback from teachers.
When I saw the film, what struck me as the most invidious distortion (among many) was the failure to acknowledge that the children on whom miracles were being performed came from very special families. They weren’t just selected from the population at random. By lottery yes, but only from those who wanted to do the extra work and had family support in that endeavour. And given their circumstances, the level of support and committment shown by some of those parents was nothing less than miraculous.
With the kind of selection that’s involved, it’s no surprise that the results were better at the special schools – at least for those lucky enough to have the necessary support. But what about the rest? There was actually no evidence given that the KIPP or other special schools would work for them, and taking out the best students and families from the regular schools might just condemn the rest to an even greater rate of failure.
It may be that the KIPP strategy of applying triage to the community is actually the best strategy for overall improvement. And it may be that the current teaching strategies are not optimal for those left behind. But neither of these is demonstrated in the film.
As an ex union member, I must also object to the disgusting ploy of trying to make a political point against unions out of the requirement to discuss and attempt to reach agreement on all aspects of a contract before presenting a unilateral ultimatum to be voted on.
Overall, in the end I felt that the stories of some truly inspiring parents, children, and teachers had been tainted by a dishonest presentation.