An Analysis of Waiting for Superman

1002 words 5 pages
In 2010, Davis Guggenheim released one of the years most talked about documentaries, Waiting for Superman. His film was an eye opening, to many, look at the failings of the U.S. school system. The film follows five students across the U.S., who range in grade level from kindergarten to eighth grade, as they try and escape the public school system through a lottery for a chance admission to a charter school. Guggenheim lays the blame for the failing public education system at the feet of the various teachers unions, and makes a plea for the public in general to get involved in reforming the system. By analyzing Waiting for Superman through a sociological perspective, issues of inequality will be explained using the theoretical approach …show more content…

Newman sites the work of L.C. Wilkinson and C. B. Marrett in explaining the predestined sense of self that prevails in the public education system, “ample evidence shows that teachers react to students on the basis of race, religion, social class, and gender” (Wilkinson & Marrett, 1985). These reactions continue to instill the predominant social biases among minorities and lower income students, thus continuing the cycle, that so many struggle to break free from. Public school teachers, according to Guggenheim, and their unions are one of the root cause for the inequalities and lack of proper education in public schools today. Society puts a great deal of trust in the public education system to shape students into future productive citizens. This cannot be accomplished if there are other factors deemed more important by educators than the welfare of the students they teach. As shown in the documentary, the number one goal for the teachers unions is to protect the livelihood of the educators at any cost. Looking at this through the conflict perspective, more narrowly, economically as favored by Karl Marx, one sees that public education is a system that is in a constant state of upheaval as educators and the educated vie for control of the system. Newman summarizes Marx’s economic theory; “Hence, economic, political, and educational systems in a modern society support the interests of those who control the wealth” (Newman 19). It is a clear situation of


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