Waiting for Superman does one thing right above all else: it gets a conversation going. Then something else has to matter, which is how much the people who get to talking really know about the education system in America, which has been making students fall behind compared to others throughout the world (i.e. USA ranks 25th among students for math and reading, albeit we’re #1 when it comes to confidence! yey we’re #1!) David Guggenheim’s documentary shifts between personal stories of (mostly) inner-city kids whose parents want their kids to do well but are doubtful for good reason about whether their kids will get the fair chance, and try ultimately to get them into charter-school systems that rely on a lottery system of picking who gets in and who doesn’t. Read more
I’m appearing today on The Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about an important new film that I think everyone should see. It’s called “Waiting for ‘Superman.'” The film’s depiction of the state of America’s public education system is something people won’t quickly forget. In fact, I think it’s the kind of movie that is powerful enough to influence — and hopefully even change — the public consciousness about our approach to education.
There’s no question that the quality of our education system helped to make America great. But today, many of our public schools are failing. Only one-third of high school students are prepared for college when they graduate. And half of minority students drop out of high school altogether. Read more
Social issue documentaries such as An Inconvenient Truth and Food Inc. have made major inroads at the box office, and thanks to the vital work of Participant Media, Sundance Institute, The Good Pitch, Working Films, ITVS and a host of others, these films are generating awareness of and spirited dialogue about the themes and issues they embrace. But what kind of real impact have they made? Where are the raw quantitative and qualitative data that reflect the persuasive power that the best of these docs evince? In the final analysis, do documentaries really effect significant change?