Sunday, May, 1, 11

Waiting for Superman Part II

Filed under: cinema — theradishpress @ 10:38 am
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by theradishpress

A few months back Sadiqeh and I went and saw the documentary Waiting for Superman. We were both brought to tears by the stories of the children and their parents in the movie. I will admit, that the personal stories did such a number on me, that aside from my annoyance at the director for not naming whiteness and the systemic oppression of poor people and poor people of color, I was swept into the film.

Like my admittance with The Fighter, I am now taking back my love for this documentary. That’s part of the fun of this blog for me, and being in school, learning, re-learning, continued examination and analysis, etc. And being accountable. Public accountability is not easy, even if when there really are only a few consistent readers. But the point is, it’s not about me, it’s about this movie.

My good friend Rebecca, sleuth that she is, and could probably outdo Greg Palast, recently saw the film. She got it on DVD, so she was able to see the special features as well. She told me though, that as soon as the film started, she suspected something was up. She reacted to the director in the same way I did – though, I did not tell her this or say it to anyone because unlike Rebecca, I still get caught up in being called paranoid or being told I am too suspicious. Anyway, what Rebecca saw was that the director, Davis Guggenheim, is experiencing some of that classic white guilt because he can send his kid to a private school. So, to make up for the guilt, but never name it of course, he made this movie. And as Rebecca did her research, she learned about all the corporations and funding the movie, including the likes of Bill Gates. Rebecca shared this great article (The Ultimate Superpower: Supersized Dollars Drive Waiting for Superman Agenda by Barbara Miner) that examines the money funding the film – Paramount Vantage, Participant Media, and Walden – and the money funding certain schools, like hedge funds. Miner even names the various politicians and CEOs invested in charter schools the film praises.

Additionally, Rebecca shared a link to a documentary The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman (Guggenheim also directed The Inconvenient Truth). I posted the trailer below. I think it’s fascinating to note the production quality of this film versus Guggenheim’s. It appears that there are no major studios backing this production.

Yes, currently, I am sharing what someone else shared with me. This is how information is dispersed. Do with it what you will. This whole thing is proof of our need to really examine information we are given. To dig deep. To question. Isn’t that what education is supposedly about? And great, we can tear apart the systems that strangle life out of education, including the film industry. (This is why I miss teaching).

Wednesday, October, 27, 10

Waiting for Superman

Filed under: cinema — theradishpress @ 12:35 pm

by theradishpress

Sadiqeh and I went and saw Waiting for Superman last night. It is a documentary about the failure of the US school system and the catastrophic effects on children. A point countered and proved wrong in the documentary is the misconception and perpetuated lie that under-privileged children cannot learn. It seems so obvious that just because someone is poor or African-American or Latino or female that that does not mean they are less able to learn. And yet, I say that knowing that so much of this society’s culture is rooted deeply in racism, sexism, and every other ism there is. Watching children and their families fight for them to receive a quality education is devastating. It also reminded me of how hard my parents worked to keep us in a neighborhood that was way too expensive so that we could go to good schools.

Hearing Nakia talk about doing anything to ensure her daughter goes to college, even if it meant working multiple jobs to pay her daughter’s grammar school tuition, took me back to my own family’s struggles. My father fought for years to find work. My mother drove over an hour each way, falling asleep behind the wheel, and extended family helped us. Why? So that we could go to good schools and go to college. And we are not first generation college students, we are second generation. But that does not make getting there any less of a success. And it is also important to note that this is not a “we did it with no help” story. Those stories are lies. Those stories are why, as stated in the documentary, kids in this country rank highest in confidence. We retell lies about success.

I was struck by the determination of these children and the desire. There is something really wrong with a system that does not provide the means to be educated to children. There is something wrong when the decisions being made hinder learning. There is something wrong when children have to rely on chance to learn what are considered basic skills.

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