One of my favorite films growing up was Ghostbusters. Great comic talents Dan Aykroyd (who plays Dr. Ray Stantz), Harold Ramis ( Dr. Egon Spengler) and Bill Murray (Dr. Peter Venkman) were scientists studying supernatural phenomenon on a university grant until one day their funding was cut. Upon discussing where they could work, knowing no other university in the area would take them, the idea of looking beyond state funding came up. “I’ve worked in the private sector before,” says an unconfident Ray, “they expect results.”
One day Ray finds a solution and buys a hearse to turn into a cruiser and a rundown fire station to fix up to fit their needs. “This building should be condemned,” says an unimpressed Egon, “and this neighborhood feels like a demilitarized zone.” Looking beyond their concerns, the Ghostbusters decide to try a private sector solution to their financial problems. Once their mortgage was on the line, they needed to deliver.
We all had superheroes to look up to when we were young. Some of them were fictional, like Superman, Batman or even the Ghostbusters, showing off their unique abilities and gadgets for us to marvel at on the big screen. Others were real such as our parents, relatives or teachers (if you were lucky) that directly influence our everyday life. Both of them are important in shaping our lives.
Great teachers are like superheroes. This is the mindset of Geoffrey Canada, an educator and social activist who took on the worst education system in New York State and narrates a good bit of Waiting for Superman. One of the most frustrating elements of the film is not that horrible teachers cannot be fired; it’s that the unions are set up to prohibit rewarding the good ones.
Anyone who has gone through the public school system knows that not all teachers are created equal. I was quite fortunate to have had good teachers while some of my friends were stuck with the duds, so to speak. Waiting For Superman chronicles the journey of a few families with a glimmer of hope of a better education for their kids. Some are fortunate enough to get in to private schools through a lottery system, others are not as fortunate. The problem is that parents who try to do the right thing for their kids are not always allowed to.
Education is broken in our country, as the film shows us, with kids falling way behind in every category except for confidence. This highlights an illusion from both students and teachers alike of what is acceptable performance. There is no accountability from today’s public school teachers who blame parents and even students for their poor grades. What this film proves is that the system needs reform when we see good parents and administrators rendered helpless due to the iron fist of destructive teachers unions.