We are a nation at war, and if we lose this war, our nation is in grave danger. But we're not talking about the war in Afghanistan, we're talking about the war going on here in our country, the war of education. In the new documentary Waiting for "Superman" we get an up close look at the battleground through the eyes of 5 young kids, who along with their parents, are in a battle to find a school that can offer them a quality education. At first glance, most people would assume that these kids are nothing like them, but the opposite is true. These kids represent you, me, and every kid and parent who is in search of hope and opportunity to make their lives better. That is what America is built on, its what people have sacrificed and died for throughout our history as a nation, the opportunity to reach the elusive "America Dream." Throughout this film, we are forced to face the fact that unless something is done to change the educational system, the "dream" will become just that for millions and millions of Americans. The Civil Rights movement in this country was founded on the premise that black people wanted to be treated equally as their white counterparts, not better, but equally so they would have the same access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that everyone was promised in the document that governs our country. Well, this is exactly what the young people in this movie are desperately searching for. They want the same opportunity to pursue their dreams as everyone else who lives in affluent school districts. They want the same attention and care given to kids who have the money to attend private schools or go to charter schools that send kids to colleges at an alarming rate.
The conditions of inner city schools are as author Johnathan Kozol described, "The Shame Of The Nation." We owe them more. Lucky kids in the suburbs get new books and computers, air conditioned classrooms with a teacher's aid and tutors and mentors to assist them through the educational process, while the kids in the inner city are sharing used books. Dilapidated buildings with no air conditioner in the summer or heat in the winter. They are faced with over-crowded classrooms and under paid, under-appreciated teachers who attempt to communicate to the masses of minds. Being born on the wrong side of the tracks shouldn't dictate the type of education you receive. Then, they are actually judged and compared through standardized tests to the schools in the suburbs. But how could their test scores possibly be comparable if they are not getting the same education?
These kids simply want someone to realize that they matter, and regardless of their background, neighborhood, or their economic status that they too deserve the opportunity to chase their dreams! That if given the same tools, same expectations, same teachers and same instructions they can excel and remind America that you should never judge a book by its cover. This film is important as it brings the hardships of many Americans to everyone's attention. The pain and anguish of a mother who has no choice but to tell her child that she can't attend a good school because she doesn't have the money spills across the screen. The heart wrenching part where a mother has to actually tell her children that she doesn't know why their teacher can't help them learn to understand their words better. Could you imagine having to tell your child that you don't know how they will fulfill their dream of becoming a doctor because getting into college will be much more difficult simply because the school they have to attend doesn't actually prepare them or give them a great chance to go college? We are brought face to face with the fact that unless we do something, unless we stand up and unite, that our kids will fail. And that means we fail, all of us, regardless of which side of the tracks you live on. We will fail because of a system that isn't set up to help everyone succeed, only the ones that live in certain areas, or have parents who can afford to send them to private schools. And that will mean that the very words our kids say every day when they get to school will mean nothing... "liberty and justice for all!" Instead, they will just have to continue to wait for Superman.
On Monday, A Poet and A Profit will offer a free screening of the movie Waiting for "Superman," in Largo, MD at the Magic Johnson AMC theaters. We felt that the theme and ideas in this film are too important for people not to see and discuss in every community. As a partnership, we both felt that one way to spread the message of this movie was to provide a free screening of the movie to people in the community in which we both reside, as an incentive to come out and see it. With so many things going on in our country, sometimes issues such as education get pushed to the back and we felt that we couldn't allow this to happen with this film. We have reached out to people in our community and beyond in an effort to to get as many types of people we can to come and see the movie so the dialogue and discussion can begin as to how we can systematically change and alter the educational system to ensure that every child has access to quality education beginning from pre-school and beyond. We encourage anybody who wants to make a difference and wants to get a up close first hand look at a problem that Micro-soft founder and renowned philanthropist Bill Gates calls "crucial to our nations's long term future" to come out and see the movie. If you can't make it to our screening, find out where the film is showing in your area, take a friend or family member, but go see this film. It may be the final straw that causes us to want to take action instead of being what Newark Mayor Corey Booker calls "sedentary agitation" which means we get mad at the problem but never do anything to solve it. Now is your chance, so what will you do?