Among the many takeaways from Guggenheim’s “Waiting for ‘Superman'” documentary is that which correlates the problems of failing neighborhoods with the problems of failing schools, which is highlighted in the scene below.
Source: “Waiting for ‘Superman'”
In this scene is where an age-old debate is turned on its head and then given substance with evidence in the scene that follows. Educators of the past, as Guggenheim discusses, had thought that poor and crime-ridden neighborhoods produced children with the nature of their surroundings embedded in their DNA, and thus schools were infiltrated by these children and were doomed to fail. This seemed then and seems now like the excuse made by educators to dilute the issues of their failing education systems. The example made by an educator in the film shows that there were plenty of students entering the schools initially, but the change between the number of enrolled students from freshman year to sophomore year was drastic. The situation is easy to imagine: students begin motivated to learn and search for a life beyond their impoverished neighborhoods, but obtain the sentiment that there is no future for them when they aren’t being educated properly.
The response that Welner would have to the film overall would be one of disagreement with not only the portrayal of the charter school application process but the portrayal of the schools’ success. The concept of charter schools are discussed in the movie as a shining light for parents fed up with the public school system. The depiction of Charter Schooling in Redwood, California and other areas is that charter schools were more motivated to provide disadvantaged children with a better education. What we see in the film is the tragedy of being victim to the lottery system; what we don’t see is the complication with the system of getting into the lottery, as Welner discusses can involve lengthy applications, conditional acceptance into the lottery, the requirement of certain documents in application, etc. For this reason Welner would appreciate the reality of charters displayed in the end of the film but would desire more depth in the depiction of their formulation.
Guggenheim, Davis. Waiting for “Superman.” 2010. Film.
Welner, K. G. (April 2013). The Dirty Dozen: How Charter Schools Influence Student Enrollment. Teachers College Record.