There I sat, alone in the theater, watching what may very well be the most important movie of the year, if not the decade.

To say that the documentary "Waiting for Superman" has played to a small audience is an exercise in understatement. This incredible film, sure to be nominated for an Academy Award next year, is not only fascinating but also critical for every parent, and every student in the United States.

At the end of the movie, there I sat, unashamedly wiping tears from my eyes (hey, no one else was around) and wondering what I could do to encourage people to see this remarkable show. I guess all I can do is write a review to not just encourage, but to beg, every parent and educator to watch this movie.

It's no surprise to anyone who reads this that our public school system leaves a lot to be desired. While it's true that many public schools have high-quality teachers and students who not only academically succeed, but also proceed to higher education, other schools almost guarantee that their students will drop out.

The movie documents this with charts (charts that are surprisingly easy to understand and actually entertaining via animation) that show just how deplorable success rates are in many schools, and, in fact, the nation. For example, United States students are woefully lacking in math skills compared to other developed countries.

The filmmakers introduce viewers to several young students and their parents, who are concerned about whether their children will be able to attend college. We learn why it's so important for students to attend the right junior high school. If a student attends a junior high school with quality education, then she or he probably will do well in high school.

The star of the show, although he is not billed as such, is educator Geoffrey Canada, who has appeared on talk shows and in news clips, he has become an academic celebrity because of this film and his Harlem Success Academy. Canada mandates that his teachers are highly qualified, energetic, and paid well, and that college preparatory skills are the focus of every class.

The public schools problem is complex, but the movie examines several aspects of it, including entrenched, tenured teachers and the teachers union.

It's no wonder that Canada, which his practical ideas, has become a hero in the eyes of so many educators.

He's my hero now. And I hope he becomes yours, too.

 

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