Monday, October 11, 2010

Bucking the Party: Guggenheim Makes Plea for More Charter Schools With Waiting for Superman

David Guggenheim, the producer of An Inconvenient Truth, is bucking the Democratic Party when it comes to teachers' unions, and the educational system. Guggenheim is for charter schools and is making a plea for more charter schools with his new film, Waiting For Superman. He is also a member of Democrats for school choice. He has decided to put childrens' education first, before the welfare of the teachers' unions. This man should be commended for standing up for our kids' education and for not following lock step with the Democratic Party.

Here is a review of Waiting For Superman.

David Guggenheim, the man behind An Inconvenient Truth and Obama’s 2008 DNC bio-infomercial, has just released another film — this one a stabbing indictment of teachers’ unions and a plea for more charter schools, titled Waiting for Superman. Democrats for School Choice hosted an advance screening of the documentary, to which black clergy, New York City education chancellor Joel Klein, and National Review were invited. The school-choice cause evidently transcends traditional ideological boundaries.

Waiting for Superman intends to influence policy, yet its narrative follows not politicians, but five children. Bianca, Daisy, Emily, Anthony, and Francisco come from diverse locales — Harlem, L.A., Silicon Valley, D.C., and the Bronx — and are black, Hispanic, and white, but they share the same basic problem: Each is consigned by geography to an inadequate public school. Each wants a choice.

The stories — of Bianca, whose single black mother struggles to afford parochial school but misses the final payment that would let Bianca attend graduation, and of Anthony, who carries a picture of his dead, drug-using father as he seeks a spot at a rare charter boarding school that might keep him away from the streets, to name two — are heartbreaking. But the real message of the movie is revealed in the scenes of the adults who produce this heartbreak. Superman’s most memorable episode is the cartoon illustration of the “lemon dance,” in which school principals waltz their “lemons” (teachers who just can’t teach but can’t be fired) from school to school. The musical number would be hilarious if it weren’t so devastating. So, too, for the shots of the infamous “rubber rooms,” where middle-aged teachers sit in school kids’ chairs, playing cards or laying their heads on their desks to sleep, collecting full pay and pensions.

Guggenheim chooses one champion and one villainess. Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of D.C. schools, is energetic and assertive. She bluntly admits that D.C. students “are getting a crappy education right now,” she fires a couple hundred incompetent educators, institutes some incentive pay, and starts to turn D.C.’s schools around. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and Rhee’s foil, is on the defensive. She seems most solicitous about the egos of teachers; a speech to her union culminates in the cry, “You are heroes!” In her interviews, Weingarten reminds us what good-hearted people teachers are, and condemns school-choice advocates for demonizing teachers. She has maintained this pattern off-screen as well. “It’s in vogue to bash teachers and unions rather than celebrate the work they do to help kids,” she said, responding to Superman. “That being said, I’m a big girl.”



Matt said...

Charter schools are a start, but they are still subject to regulation. We need to have schools away from government control entirely.

Just a conservative girl said...

There are some pretty bad charter schools out there as well. It certainly isn't the total answer. We need a multi-pronged approach to solve this problem.

Sadly, Michelle Rhee will be losing her job here in DC shortly. The teachers union spent almost $2 million to help elect Grey, the payback is going to be Rhee's head on a platter. The new mayor may keep her until the end of the school year, but she will gone.

I am hoping that she will get a job in Newark, they just got all that money and Chris Christie will back her up going after the unions. I find it sad that DC will not benefit, but at least another city will.

Teresa said...


I agree. The first priority is giving kids a good and challenging education. Morality or values need to return to our schools as well. It is a start. Getting the teachers' unions out of the students' lives is a priority also.

Teresa said...

Just a Conservative Girl,

To be honest, I don't know alot about charter schools, other than they give the parents an alternative choice than a bad public school. At least it seems like the parents are able to better monitor what their kids learn with charter schools. I am for vouchers, charter schools, and kicking the teachers' unions out of schools or their influence which is harming kids' educations. I agree, that we need a multi-pronged approach to solve this problem.

It is sad that Michelle Rhee probably will be losing her job.

Woodsterman (Odie) said...

So, what took so long?

Opus #6 said...

My boy wanted to see this movie. I think he thought there were superheroes in it. Sounds like heroes of another kind. Education is about the kids. I think educators and administrators can lose sight of that. I hope the focus can change back to the children. Vouchers would be a help, but the unions hate that idea.

LL said...

Guggenheim is a TRAITOR to his party! How could he produce a sensible film about the need to educate children?

We all know that it's the good of the union and the tenured teachers that matters in America. The children are a by-product and if they get an education, that's a bonus. If they don't, there are always food stamps, subsidized housing and welfare.

Pedaling said...

my youngest goes to a charter school and we have been very happy with her there. We've been invited to a special screening of this film, this week-end. Looking forward to seeing it. I think I'll post this clip to my site, if you don't mind.

Teresa said...


That's great to hear! Charter schools seem like a good idea to me. You are more than welcome to post the video.