In the film Waiting for Superman by David Guggenheim, the narrator expressed how success through the form of public education is based on the hands of luck. The public school system isn’t providing adequate tools to teach kids and provide them with future opportunities. The solution according to Geoffrey Canada is the creation of charter schools. Those who are wealthy enough to send their children to private schools choose that path for their children in order to provide their kids a better future, while those who can’t afford private schools are thrown into a failing public school system, or are entered into a lottery to be accepted into a charter school. Education is considered the great equalizer in order to fix the wage gap and ensure that all children are provided the same opportunities in the future, but when the education fails the kids, especially those of low SES, their only solution is to be thrown into a lottery.
The documentary allows viewers to see the struggle that families from lower socioeconomic status has to go through. The film follows five students who are entered into the lottery for a charter school. The most memorable scene however, was when the filmmakers highlighted the concept of baby schools and the boarding schools that the kids can apply to to receive a better education. In the process, they interviewed a young boy who stated “I want to go to college to get an education.” The filmmakers asked why and the child responded, “because if I have kids, I don’t want them to be in this environment…I want my kids to have better than what I have” (Guggenheim, 1:21:50). The fact that the child, at such a young age, understands that an education is important to succeed in life is remarkable within itself. However, the second part of his statement reveals his understanding that the problem isn’t just within the school system, but within the environment as well. His statements highlight Canada’s view that in order to change education you have to also change the neighborhood and the community as a whole. In order to receive honest answers from the child, filmmakers were sure to ask the child why receiving an education was so important. This opened the floor up to more discussion which was an important move on the part of the filmmakers.
At the end of the video the narrator stated we ask ourselves, did we do the right thing, did we do enough. The public school system has many failures within it that oftentimes penalizes the poor. Education is a broken system with too many holes, it seems that the only way to fix it would to be providing every student an equal chance, by providing equal incomes, equal environments, and equal home lives. The focus on equality; however, isn’t really a feasible task, and will never be a feasible goal. The rise of charter schools with this new lottery system of application seem to be a band aid to a much bigger problem. Kids who do not get their name selected are thrown back into the failing public school system. What then is the goal of education, if we know that providing equal opportunity is never truly feasible?
Guggenheim, Davis. Waiting for “Superman.” 2010. Film.