School Choice In Waiting For Superman

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Analytical Essay – School Choice
The debate on school choice is incredibly difficult considering the personal struggles and economic-political ramifications. In Davis Guggenheim’s movie Waiting for Superman, he presents an exquisite expose on the effects access to education for individual families has. In Elizabeth Dutro’s critique however, she offers some strong evidence to suggest that Guggenheim’s portrayal is skewed. In addition, the US Department of Education issued a report in 2008 which catalogues the statistics on academic success. This, in addition to articles by Sandra Vergari and Susan Dynarski that debate the legal issues surrounding school choice and where success is found in alternative schooling, respectively, provide evidence
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Dutro argues that in the simplification of the issue, Guggenheim has placed the blame for failing schools squarely on the teacher’s unions and has neglected the culpability of local, regional, and federal governments in the failure for traditional public schools to compete. In addition, Dutro argues the film leaves out key facts about the funding, like that the Harlem Children’s Zone, a charter school in the heart of Harlem in New York City, in addition to the public funding through traditional taxes, receives more than $100 million in private funding, including the Gates Foundation (2011: 2). This lack of information, intentional or not, convinces the viewer that the culpability falls on the teacher’s unions and the failure of America as we know it. As further qualitative data, Dutro discusses the comparison made to the Finnish school systems to our own. The crux of her argument is twofold: 1) that when Guggenheim makes the test scores the core of the comparison, he assumes that test scores are comparable between the two nations and that 2) Guggenheim does not detail the Finish socio-political system (2011: 3). If he did go into the Finish social systems, Dutro argues, viewers would be met with the fact that “Finland has a strong teachers union; an extraordinarily ambitious, government-supported system of teacher …show more content…
We know what works, quality teachers, more classroom time, world class standards, high expectations, real accountability. The problem is complex, but the steps are simple […] Great schools won’t come from winning the lottery. They won’t come from “Superman.” They will come from you.
This inspirational message to viewers may aid the public response and education on the issue of school choice but this message is contradictory to the rest of the film which puts full blame on the teachers unions and the education system in the United States. The real story is a complex issue that involves the government, the school systems, parents, and children across the nation. This debate on school choice is ongoing and has many voices to balance

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