I finally got around to seeing Waiting for Superman. The scenes of parents and children waiting for the lottery results were tear jerkers, but the movie was very simplistic in its depiction of education problems and solutions. It assumed that the children of involved parents would be doomed by going to neighborhood schools but saved by going to charters. Maybe so, but reciting the statistics for all students doesn’t make that case. I wanted to see a lot more on how successful schools teach: What’s replicable? What depends on finding brilliant principals or young teachers willing to work insanely long hours?
The depiction of Woodside High in California, the alternative for the girl who gets into Summit Preparatory Charter School, implies that the school serves middle-class and upper-middle-class whites, some of whom are tracked into low-level classes that don’t prepare them to go college. A majority of Woodside High students are Hispanic or black; 43 percent qualify for a subsidized lunch. All non-disabled students are placed in college-prep classes, says the principal. The movie’s statistics on the number of students who go to college include only California state universities, not private or out-of-state colleges or universities or community colleges.