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Is the Hype on <i>Waiting for Superman</i> Getting Heavy? Is the Hype on <i>Waiting for Superman</i> Getting Heavy?

Is the Hype on <i>Waiting for Superman</i> Getting Heavy?

by Nikhil Swaminathan
January 26, 2010

We told you on Friday that Paramount Vantage had snapped up the rights to "Waiting for Superman," the new documentary by Davis Guggenheim, director of An Inconvenient Truth. The film-which involves interviews with Harlem Children's Zone founder Geoffrey Canada, D.C. public school chancellor Michelle Rhee, and education advocate and philanthropist Bill Gates-is supposedly going to do for public education what Guggenheim's collaboration with Al Gore did for climate change.In an interview given at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, Guggenheim unveils the central epiphany of the doc is that our public schools' failings are not isolated in low income areas and bad neighborhoods:
What the revelation is is that a lot of our schools-even our middle class and our white schools-are suffering from the same dysfunctions. And our schools, they used to be the best in the world, and now our schools are really having trouble. And if we don't face it, it's not just going to be about grades, it's going to be able our economy, about our crime, and about our well-being.
This sounds a lot like the same canary in the climate coal mine whistling a new tune. According to a post over at True/Slant, however, this is going to be harder for conservatives to dismiss as lefty propaganda. Former Boston Globe reporter Patti Hartigan excerpts from a Hollywood Reporter review of the film that says "sections of Superman feel like they could have been cut together by Bill O'Reilly." Guggenheim fingers teachers unions as part of the problem and also praises the efforts and models set by charter schools, "both of which," Hartigan writes, "are hot points of contention in any discussion of what's failing education."Stay tuned as the buzz on the film will certainly build in the coming months. Meanwhile, take a look at this short profile the Sundance Institute filmed on Guggenheim and "Waiting for Superman."
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