Not so fast

The Waiting for Superman Backlash

We must be approaching awards season. Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for Superman, a documentary about America’s failing public-school system, has been hailed in some circles, including by Oprah Winfrey, and was a frontrunner for the Best Documentary Oscar—until this week, it seems. First, education historian Diane Ravitch laid into Guggenheim’s documentary–which champions the charter-school system–in the New York Review of Books, saying, “Why did Davis Guggenheim pay no attention to the charter schools that are run by incompetent leaders or corporations mainly concerned to make money? Why propound to an unknowing public the myth that charter schools are the answer to our educational woes, when the filmmaker knows that there are twice as many failing charters as there are successful ones?” Then, the New York Times discovered that a pivotal scene in the film that shows a mother on a personal tour of a high-performing Harlem charter school she wants her son to attend, was restaged and shot after her son lost the charter school lottery.