Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recommendation: Waiting for Superman

This documentary addresses an uncomfortable subject: the difficulty (or, at times, the impossibility) of poor Americans to give their children a good education. This movie looks at several families where the parents or guardians, who love and desire the best for their children, wish to obtain a quality education. It shows that public education is not reliable for many Americans because individual student needs are easily dismissed in the bureaucratic structures that manage our schools.

It also captures the strength of the national teachers union which has changed public education from something that benefits children to something that provides guaranteed income to tenured teachers no matter how poorly they do their jobs. While the Church defends unions and teachers should have job and income security, these benefits cannot endanger the educative process or eliminate the possibility of the poor to get a good education. I am strongly in favor of unions (especially in our era where preventing labor from organizing has made it impossible for most workers to earn a living wage {where they can support a family with one income}), but unions exist to serve the common good. While the teachers union has not succeeded in gaining greater wages, it has succeeded in keeping poor educators in the classroom and working to end efforts to improve education opportunities for the poor. This documentary shows the tragic consequences for families who desire to give their children an education and the overwhelming and sometimes impossible challenges they must confront on this path.

The cultural problems in education are deeper than those presented in this film. Nonetheless, this film offers a valuable contribution in exposing the reality of American public education today.

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