The Blogger As Entertainment Critic

I have a great idea for your Friday evening. There’s a new movie coming out that speaks to the innovation that drives America. It’s called “The Social Network,” and it depicts the story of the creators of Facebook. It moves from neat idea to development to wild success to the pitfalls that follow. It’s a young person’s version of the American dream. Two college kids who unknowingly asked the question, “What if?” That would make for a great evening.

Or, you can watch another movie.

It’s called, “Waiting for Superman,” from Davis Guggenheim. He produced “An Inconvenient Truth.” It follows five children as they try to fight through tough neighborhood schools. Their solution? A charter school lottery. That and a veiled attack on teacher unions. If you want to see a depressing trailer on the film, you can find it here:

Guggenheim says, “The crisis that is in the heart of our country is in our schools.”

Absolutely, Davis.

Guggenheim says, “The key to solving all of these problems rests on solving one thing first: education.”

Wrong, Davis.

It’s frustrating. Documentary work should involve due diligence. The schools didn’t make the neighborhoods, and these kids grow up in difficult circumstances. Here, for clarification, is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. Notice that learning is at the top, dependent on myriad other things.

If you would like to read my article on the hierarchy, you can find it here:

Kids with cavities learn more slowly. Homeless children “produce” lower test scores. Hungry children don’t learn well. Fed, sheltered, safe, and healthy kids would do a better job on those international standardized tests you quote. They would graduate at higher levels, too. But this involves complex, human-based systems–an entangled mess. It doesn’t make for good, clear documentary work. Sorry.

Schools are the “fair shot” we are supposed to be giving our kids. We’re not doing that. Teachers are doing far more than they should be doing, though. Finding those that do not do this does a disservice to the entire teaching community.

Davis, there’s one other, key issue. Keeping your kid in that public school would add one more graduate to that school’s percentage. If all neighborhood parents at your current school did that, it would have an even stronger impact.

That’s not easy to do, though.

You walk the walk on climate change. Don’t you?

You recycle, don’t you?

Put your kid in that neighborhood school.

Your work here is talking, not walking.

Perhaps this is an inconvenient truth for you. “Waiting for Superman” is already one for me.

About Paul T. Henley, Ph. D.
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