Waiting for “Superman”

Rated 4.0

Documentarian Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) takes on the American public school system with a galvanized sense of lapel-grabbing urgency, alternating a review of discouraging dropout and test statistics (talk about your inconvenient truths!) with the stories of five promising students (in Harlem; the Bronx; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; and suburban San Francisco) and their parents’ efforts to place them in charter schools where they can flourish. The kids and their families come off well under Guggenheim’s scrutiny, and so do a handful of dynamic reformers and administrators—but the education bureaucracy in general, and teachers unions in particular, does not. Guggenheim’s tone is a sort of analytical frustration, equal parts logic and emotion, and the movie is a thought-provoking call to arms.