Teachers Who Aren’t Waiting for Superman Make Their Own Film

Some New York City teachers say that Davis Guggenheim got it all wrong.

By Thoai Lu May 26, 2011

Education reform has been on everyone’s agenda these days, but Davis Guggenheim’s "Waiting for Superman" popularized solutions that have many progressive circles consider problematic. The New York City parents and teachers of the Grassroots Education Movement have created a new documentary called "The Inconvenient Truth Behind ‘Waiting for Superman’", to show what last year’s blockbuster documentary got wrong.

HuffPost Education reported that the rebuttal documentary features interviews with parents and teachers to show how Giggenheim’s film mislead audiences to think that standardized tests, destroying teacher unions, and expanding charter schools would fix America’s schools.

"Waiting for Superman" took viewers on a journey that was meant to show what it’s like to be a parent with children who are forced to attend what Guggenheim called "dropout factories." The film featured interviews with school officials and reflected on the new, well-financed ideas that are currently shaping America’s education landscape. It also showed sympathetic portrayals of education reform’s most controversial issues, like getting rid of seniority-based firing and ranking teachers based on student performance on standardized tests.

Julie Cavanagh, one of the film’s producers and a teacher in Red Hook, Brooklyn, considers the issue as a "battle [with] the corporate reform movement… the film promoted a false solution." New York City teachers are arguing that low-performing neighborhood schools need to be better supported, not closed, as reflected in the lawsuit between the United Federation of Teachers and the NYC Department of Education.

Joy Resmovits of HuffPost Education wrote about what "real reforms" would look like to the producers of "The Inconvenient Truth:" "smaller class sizes, ‘culturally relevant’ curricula, less testing, ‘anti-racist education policies,’ parent and teacher leadership, a focus on community schools, expanded early childhood programs, ‘qualified and experienced educators and educational leaders’ and unionism."

Back in January, Julianne Hing wrote on how Guggenheim’s film failed to win an Academy Award Documentary Feature nomination despite massive funding support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the help of Oprah Winfrey. Just this month, Hing detailed how corporations are in the process of buying out low-performing public schools in Detroit for conversion to charter schools.