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Non-Fiction Reviews

Waiting for Superman
How We can Save America’s Failing Public Schools
Editor, Karl Weber

I haven’t seen the Movie.  I hope it’s much better than the book.  I felt the book fell short in not telling the stories of the children.  It gave one page at most to each of the child’s stories.  What it focused on was that our American public school system is in dire straits.  Educational "experts" (as per the author) share their thoughts and insights including, but not limited to, Michelle Rhee, Geoffrey Canada and Bill & Melinda Gates.  I thought it was telling when Davis Guggenheim, director of the movie, admitted passing by the public schools to take his own children to private school (does he still do that?)…I’m sure that doesn’t play into the overall problem at all.  The book describes pockets of brilliance – a charter school here, a public school there, a classroom with unbelievable results.  In an effort to place their child in a successful educational situation, parents get on waiting lists, fill out applications, and otherwise put themselves in the “lottery” hoping their child is one of the chosen few who win the coveted seat in that golden school.  The problem is the number of children who don’t get an opportunity and “are left…waiting.”  Thus, Waiting for Superman.  Do take a look at the wealth of resources at the end of the book.  Overall I felt the book was a bit fatalistic.  The reading was exhaustive.  And while the message is critical, the approach was dry and sometimes a little patronizing.  I look forward to seeing the movie.  I’m hoping it delves into the personal stories of the children and parents.