8 months ago

The 21st Century Charter Schools Initiative

The 21st Century Charter Schools Initiative

fact, those are the very

fact, those are the very areas where he has success." Scott Bowles of USA Today lauded the film for its focus on the students: "it's hard to deny the power of Guggenheim's lingering shots on these children." Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A−, calling it "powerful, passionate, and potentially revolution-inducing." The Hollywood Reporter focused on Geoffrey Canada's performance as "both the most inspiring and a consistently entertaining speaker," while also noting it "isn't exhaustive in its critique." Variety characterized the film's production quality as "deserving every superlative" and felt that "the film is never less than buoyant, thanks largely to the dedicated and effective teachers on whom Guggenheim focuses." Geraldo Rivera praised the film for promoting discussion of educational issues. Deborah Kenny, CEO and founder of the Harlem Village Academy, made positive reference to the film in a The Wall Street Journal op-ed piece about education reform. The film has also garnered praise from a number of conservative critics. Joe Morgenstern, writing for The Wall Street Journal, gave the movie a positive review saying, "when the future of public education is being debated with unprecedented intensity," the film "makes an invaluable addition to the debate." The Wall Street Journal 's William McGurn also praised the film in an op-ed piece, calling it a "stunning liberal exposé of a system that consigns American children who most need a decent education to our most destructive public schools." Kyle Smith, for the New York Post, gave the movie 4.5 stars, calling it an "invaluable learning experience." Forbes ' Melik Kaylan similarly liked the film, writing, "I urge you all to drop everything and go see the documentary Waiting For "Superman" at the earliest opportunity." The film also received negative criticism. Andrew O'Hehir of Salon wrote a negative review of the movie, saying that while there's "a great deal that's appealing," there's also "as much in this movie that is downright baffling." Melissa Anderson of The Village Voice was critical of the film for not including enough details of outlying socioeconomic issues, saying, "macroeconomic responses to Guggenheim's query... go unaddressed in Waiting for "Superman," which points out the vast disparity in resources for inner-city versus suburban schools only to ignore them." Anderson also opined that the animation clips were overused. In New York City, a group of local teachers protested one of the documentary's showings, calling the film "complete nonsense", saying that "there is no teacher voice in the film." Critics Author and academic Rick Ayers lambasted the accuracy of the film, describing it as "a slick marketing piece full of half-truths and distortions." In Ayers' view, the "corporate powerhouses and the ideological opponents of all things public" have employed the film to "break the teacher's unions and to privatize education," while driving teachers' wages even lower and running "schools like little corporations." Ayers also critiqued the film's promotion of a greater focus on "top-down instruction driven by test scores," positing that extensive research has demonstrated that standardized testing "dumbs down the curriculum" and "reproduces inequities," while marginalizing "English language learners and those who do not grow up speaking a middle class vernacular." Lastly, Ayers contends that "schools are more segregated today than before Brown v. Board of Education in 1954," and thus criticized the film for not Page 30 of 43

mentioning that in his view, "black and brown students are being suspended, expelled, searched, and criminalized." There is also a companion book titled Waiting For "Superman": How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools. The Harlem Children’s Zone The Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ) is a non-profit organization for poverty-stricken children and families living in Harlem, providing free support in the form of parenting workshops, a preschool program, three public charter schools, and child-oriented health programs for thousands of children and families. The HCZ is "aimed at doing nothing less than breaking the cycle of generational poverty for the thousands of children and families it serves." In part because not enough time has passed, there is not evidence available that the HCZ achieves its central goal. The Harlem Children's Zone Project has expanded the HCZ's comprehensive system of programs to nearly 100 blocks of Central Harlem and aims to keep children on track through college and into the job market. The HCZ and its promotion as a model of education to aspire to, especially in the recent documentary Waiting for "Superman", have been criticized as an example of the privatization of education in the U.S. University of San Francisco Adjunct Professor in Education, Rick Ayers writes that Waiting for "Superman" "never mentions the tens of millions of dollars of private money that has poured into the Harlem Children's Zone, the model and superman we are relentlessly instructed to aspire to." One year after this film was made, the Grassroots Education Movement made a film titled The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, which accused the original film of exaggerating the success of the HCZ. Page 31 of 43

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