"Waiting for 'Superman' " will be nominated for an Oscar, and I won't be at all surprised if it wins. I certainly hope it does, for in my humble opinion, it is without a doubt the most important film of the year.
"Waiting for 'Superman' " takes an insightful and unflinching look at what can be a very emotional and complex issue. How can the educational system overcome systemic inequalities and provide all children with an equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream? The limited resources and options available to the dedicated parents featured in the film is positively heartbreaking. At times, their experiences reflected my own: my single mother balanced the need to financially support my brother and myself -- following jobs up and down the east coast -- with her desire to always keep us in decent school districts (and we went through eight of them). For us, private school was not an option. And so I found myself feeling inspired -- an emotion that I admittedly too rarely feel -- by how deeply these parents cared about their children's educations.
I count myself as part of a demographic that, as a whole, is similarly difficult to inspire --
the young (progressive, in my case) professionals. The last time we were all inspired was by then-Senator Obama during the 2008 Presidential Election. Candidate Obama inspired young professionals to become civically engaged and active participants in our democracy -- and this inspiration created 008, Manifest Hope, Generation Obama (now Gen 44) and the famed Hope Poster -- an iconic image that now reminds the world over of what is possible.
While that inspiration was politically channeled into electing a new President into office, it's clear to me that our country's education problem is a non-partisan issue. In conversations I've had over the past year, I've realized my peers (on both the Left and the Right) are quickly starting to understand how deeply this problem affects all of us, as we either have children or are going to have children to worry about soon. And children know no politics.
It's not just word on the street: innovative programs like the Harlem Children's Zone, unprecedented public-private partnerships like Change the Equation and increased blogging on education are indicative of a growing movement. The energy is palpable, and "Waiting for 'Superman'" is the perfect catalyst to expand this conversation about our education problem, in part because it is one of the very few serious efforts at capturing a complex issue in terms that
we all can understand.
I challenge you to not only pledge to see the movie, but to make sure your friends, families and colleagues watch it, too. I'm talking to you, Generation Obama, Gen 44, and all the grassroots progressives who the media says have been sitting on the sidelines. This is your time to shine.
This is the beginning of a new movement -- the single most important thing we can do to fundamentally change this country is to fix our broken public education system. I can already feel the excitement when talking to people about this issue that I gave very little thought to before my all-too-recently acquired passion for social issues. I'm pretty that sure we're all exhausted of the Left / Right political bickering, so let's put that aside and work for all of our children -- America's children.
Does "Waiting for 'Superman' " have all the answers? Of course not; however, it does catalyze an important conversation that we need to be having about education -- all of us -- right now. It's up to us to learn what we can, find solutions that will work for our generation's children and push our representatives, educators and civil servants to make the changes that are needed.
The stakes are too high to sit this one out -- global competition is fierce and America can't afford to give the rest of the world a generation-long head start. I want to know that I'll be able to look my son or daughter in the eye and know that I did everything I could to truly make sure they had the best opportunities possible.