"I was like what do you mean he's not real. And she thought I was crying because it's like Santa Claus is not real and I was crying because there was no one coming with enough power to save us." -Geoffrey Canada
This is an oddly neocon way of looking at the American school system, as Guggenheim unfairly contrasts the worst of the public school system against the best of the charter school system, painting the American Federation of Teachers and NEA as the bad guys for not allowing more sweeping reforms in the public school system like Michelle Rhee proposed in the DC school system.
I didn't care for the form or style of this documentary. I'm always wary of overproduction and oversentimentality (the two together are death). However, this is informative, highlights a problem, and points to possible solutions. This is all that can be asked. I think John Stossel's report "Stupid In America" is more direct and just as informative, though.
Despite the vilification of the union and some problematic race representations, the film and its characters take you on an interesting journey. Guggenheim is shown not as a master of his very complex subject matter, but as willing to engage with it. This is an important and often ignored complexity. While the doc is in not spectacular, it should be commended for taking on the topic - it's a really important start.
Provides some good analyses of issues in public schools, but the positives are off-set by the heavy handed pro-charter narrative. Everything makes sense when Bill Gates pops up to tell you how to fix education
It's a messy film about a messy subject with some storylines abandoned mid narrative to be picked up far later and without substantial resolution. What shines is the absolute desire for education. These are children, parents, teachers and educators who are hungering for better. Looking beyond its borders may have made for a film with far more answers than which it eventually arrives.
Inspiring in showing heroes against thieves, heartbreaking in showing a broken ineffective system fail so many who are unaware or ignorant to a harsh truth, and infuriating in how simple a solution is to a complex problem. But, with so many roadblocks and red tape, not only from government but teachers as well, it can seem impossible. Watch this documentary, be informed, then fight for a better future.