The documentary “Waiting for Superman” takes a controversial look at education in the United States. It follows five students in their quest to escape failing schools through entering lotteries to get into magnet schools.
It has generated a national discussion, drawing some criticism for portraying unions as part of the problem. It has also gotten White House attention. The students met with President Barack Obama.
In Connecticut, local school officials say the film is a good catalyst for discussing how to fix problems with the system but that problems in education are more complex than they appear in the movie.
“Charter schools are a part of the solution, but not the entire solution,” Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said. “Teacher unions sometimes take positions that are problematic but they’re not necessarily the enemies.”
Cirasuolo said he hopes that the movie will prompt a discussion that reflect the complexities school systems face. Charter schools are part of the answer, but not the ultimate answer, he said.
“There are problems within the system itself. Our take on it is that we really need some very basic systemic change in the schooling in the state if every student is going to learn to a high standard,” he said.
Cirasuolo said his organization would like to see more charter schools run by school districts rather than the state.
There are two main lessons from the movie, Cirasuolo said. One is the importance of paying attention to parental concerns and the other is the need to get the community involved in supporting education.
“Community engagement is vital if we are going to solve the program,” he said.
On Friday night, the parents, foundation executives and corporate supporters of Hartford Public Schools are expected to attend a showing to begin their own conversation.