Waiting for Superman, Davis Guggenheim’s new educational film, is presently receiving a media blitz. In the film, Guggenheim follows five students in their educational journey. According to the Waiting for Superman movie website, ”In spite of their rousing determination and grit, the shocking reality is that most of the film’s touching and funny cast of kids will be barred from a chance at what was once taken for granted: a great American education.”
The film breaks up the educational problem into several sections of need: kids, teachers, administrators, unions, schools, states and the nation at large. Inevitably, these kids have one hope of receiving a good education: a lottery system to attend a better public school. The implication that a good education in America today can only take place through a lottery system for specialized schools is simply not true.
I appreciate the attention that Guggenheim’s movie is giving to education reform, although I do not appreciate the big business media blitz to privatize education. Waiting for Superman is the metaphorical surfboard of big business stakeholders to privatize education for financial gains.
This powerful movement of policymakers superimposing structure to the educational system started back in the 1980s. Nicholas Lemann stated in a 1997 issue of Atlantic Monthly that in the 1980s “the idea of raising standards in public education emerged as a national cause.” In 1983 the National Council for Excellence in Education commissioned by the Reagan administration produced a report, A Nation at Risk.
This report identified a national education crisis and recommended nationwide administration of standardized testing by states and the local educational systems. The use of the testing data was to better diagnose and evaluate student progress.
With standardized testing came the creation of businesses to produce the books and products for the schools to utilize to accomplish their testing goals. Today, educational concerns are many. For over 25 years, big business has been riding on the backs of policymakers’ decisions in the field of education.