'Waiting for Superman': Our Children Should Be a Priority, Not the 'Collective Bargaining' That Harms Them

Each morning, wanting to believe in our schools, we take a leap of faith. –Davis Guggenheim

Many moviegoers are upset that Waiting for “Superman” did not get an Oscar nomination. I’m not. I don’t need the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences to validate what I already know: our children’s education is in dire need of reform. It is the sad truth in America today and if you don’t believe it, then please stop reading this piece. I mean it. Do some research and then rejoin the conversation.

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Director, Davis Guggenheim, immediately grabbed my attention with his opening voiceover. For several years now, I’ve been taking that same leap of faith as I drop my son off at his public elementary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I turned a blind eye to the fact that LAUSD’s own report card shows that only 55% of its 5th graders are proficient at math and only 48% are proficient at reading. For some reason, I believed they would be able to properly educate my son. I was wrong. Fortunately, like Guggenheim, I have options. My husband and I have decided to home school our son. This is where America is split–there are families that don’t have options. In that sense, we are not equal. However, I believe that there should be opportunity and choices–especially when it comes to raising the future of America.

Instead of talking about why the film was snubbed, let’s talk about why this is the most important film of my child’s generation. Could you imagine if every adult in America watched this movie? They would take to the streets and protest the injustice that is being done to our children. Apparently, not enough people have seen it and they are, instead, busy taking to the streets to protect the public unions that are among the primary reasons these kids can’t get a decent education. Priorities people! Our children should be our greatest priority–not job security and not the collective bargaining that gives job security to awful teachers.

Waiting for “Superman” doesn’t just present the problems. Its offers solutions in the form of educators like Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, Bill Strickland, David Levin and Mike Feinberg. Guggenheim demonstrates how their unique approaches can actually improve the quality of education across all income levels. We’ve been lied to for too long. Insufficient funding is not the problem with education. We’ve allowed unions to put their desires in front of our children’s needs and it is time to reverse the dynamic.

I’ve read several reports on why this film was snubbed. The most common excuse is that Guggenheim staged a scene. When I researched the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences’ rules for entry, I discovered that a documentary…

“…may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial reenactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not fiction.”

So, I’m not sure I buy that excuse. There were a few inconsistencies in Guggenheim’s prior success “Inconvenient Truth” but that didn’t stop the Academy from awarding it the Oscar. So maybe I do care that Waiting for “Superman” didn’t get a nomination. At least I now know that Hollywood cares much more about the environment than it cares about education.

I would hope that, deep down, regardless of one’s political leanings, you could acknowledge that our education system has failed our kids. If current trends continue, my grandchildren’s educational future looks pretty bleak. That doesn’t bode well for America. We need to invest in our children and give them the best chance at success.

Instead of seeing Charles Ferguson, director of the 2011 Academy Award winner for “Best Documentary,” take the stage and accuse bank executives of committing massive fraud, I would have much rather seen Davis Guggenheim thank Hollywood for recognizing the importance of education reform.

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