"Waiting for Superman" takes a provocative and critical look at what the filmmaker calls a broken education system. The film is told through the eyes of five students and their parents from New York to California, struggling to get out of failing neighborhood schools and into public charter schools. Their fate depends on the luck of the draw.
At Pembroke Pines Charter Schools, the documentary by Davis Guggenheim, who also directed Oscar-award winning "An Inconvenient Truth," has people talking. Are America's public schools failing our children? Consider this, Florida ranks last, 50th in state spending on education, according to the latest study by the National Education Association.
Pembroke Pines Charter Schools principal Dvarn Flowers says all you have to do is look at her waiting list: 10,000 students. There's only room for 300 a year. Admissions are based on a lottery system. Pembroke Pines Charter Schools require parents to volunteer 30 hours a year while also setting high standards for teachers and students.
On Wednesday, dozens packed a theater at Regal Cinemas South Beach for an advanced screening of "Waiting for Superman." hosted by Everybody Wins, a local literacy and mentoring organization. Founder Julie Katz says the film is a major call to action to get people involved in local schools.
Jackie Lawrence, who studied to be a teacher, was visibly emotional as she walked out of the theater. She hopes this documentary will serve as a wake up call to reform the nation's public school system.
"Every kid deserves a chance," Lawrence said.
However, the feedback wasn't all positive. The president of the American Federation of Teachers argues the documentary is unbalanced because it never shows public schools or public school students in the film.