kitchen table math, the sequel: Waiting for Superman

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Waiting for Superman

cross posted to the Irvington Parents Forum

Waiting for Superman

Tue, October 12 5:10 || 7:25 || 9:40
Wed, October 13 5:10 || 7:25 || 9:40
Thu, October 14 5:10 || 7:25 || 9:40

Jacob Burns Film Center Theater
364 Manville Rd., Pleasantville, NY 10570
Info-line: 914.747.5555


Hi everyone -

Waiting for Superman is incredible. So moving. Entertaining, too; Geoffrey Canada in particular is riveting. The title comes from a story he tells about the day his mother told him Superman doesn’t exist.

The film follows 5 or 6 children whose families are trying to find good schools for their kids, including one mom who can no longer afford the Catholic school her daughter has been attending. The lottery scenes at the end are excruciating.

Amazingly, the film does **not** give wealthy, white suburban schools a pass. About three quarters of the way in, the film tells us that suburban schools have the same underachievemement problems urban schools do; then we see data showing that the top 5% of U.S. students rank far below the top 5% of students in other countries. Which is true.

Here’s a picture of the suburban girl waiting to see if her number will be called:

Here’s the trailer.

What about the US's better students? When asked, Schmidt replied, "For some time now, Americans have comforted themselves when confronted with bad news about their educational system by believing that our better students can compare with similar students in any country in the world. We have preferred not to believe that we were doing a consistently bad job. Instead, many have believed that the problem was all those 'other' students who do poorly in school and who we, unlike other countries, include in international tests. That simply isn't true. TIMSS has burst another myth - our best students in mathematics and science are simply not 'world class'. Even the very small percentage of students taking Advanced Placement courses are not among the world’s best."

TIMSS - Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies


Catherine Johnson said...

I cried for the last 15 minutes of the movie.

It's incredible.

CassyT said...

Looking forward to seeing this tonight. I've seen (and own) The Lottery. Has anyone seen Race to Nowhere yet?

Jenny said...

I wish that I could go and see this movie. The closest theater to me is a two hour drive!

CassyT said...

So, we saw the movie last night. It should be out on DVD soon enough. An interesting film, particularly the discussions with Michelle Rhee.

In the parking lot, some parents from my youngest son's charter school were talking with one of the board members. They focused on the fact that every child in the movie had a parent who worried about them, advocated for them, put them on a charter list. Their takeaway? These students are successful because parents are more involved and the students are more motivated.

My husband and I took away a different message. What's school for if not to actually provide an education?

Why shouldn't parents who work to provide for their families, who want their child to have a better life through education, and who love their children just as fiercely as the parents in the movie do, have equal access to teachers who know what they are doing?

CassyT said...

Geoffrey Canada Has his say in today's NY Daily News

Casdok said...

Sounds really interesting.

kcab said...

Do you know where the comment on the top 5% comes from? I was trying to figure that out the other day - I don't doubt it from the math PISA data I was looking at, but am curious.

Anonymous said...


It could be from PISA. I did see an article once about PISA ranking the top 10% of students by country.

Anonymous said...


Those parents who say that are wrong. My niece goes to a charter school. They have very high standards and expectations. She is taught far more than her public school brother. Her charter also does not allow students to fall behind. As soon as a student runs into difficulty they are given extra help. The school also offers grade level reading and math. So a second grader could be taking 3rd grade math and 4th grade reading.

It is simply wrong to say that schools are failing simply because too many parents don't care. In the average suburban public school most parents do care. But that doesn't guarantee their kids a good education.

If standards and expectations are too low, students won't learn. If students are taught too little content, they won't learn enough. If children are allowed to fall behind, they won't learn. If students are exposed to work that is either too hard for them or too easy for them, they won't learn.

kcab said...

Following the link at the bottom of the post, it looks like the 5% comparison is based on 1998 TIMSS data. That particular statistic is not at that particular link, but sounds plausible from the text.

Allison said...

Outside the theater in Minneapolis, the school union was protesting the movie.

That strikes me as *exactly how NOT* to gain support for the union.

(haven't seen it yet, but passed outside and saw the picketing.)