Ed School Screens ‘Superman’ Film

The Graduate School of Education held an advance screening of “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” a new documentary about the American education system, at the Loeb Drama Center last night.

Educators, administrators, and students nearly filled the 556 seats of the Mainstage auditorium to view the film, which featured Harlem Children’s Zone President and CEO Geoffrey Canada, a 1975 graduate of the Ed School.

The movie is a “deeply personal exploration of the current state of public education in the U.S. and how it is affecting our children,” according to a synopsis on its website. It follows the stories of five different children trying to enter charter schools across the United States.

During her opening remarks before the showing of the film, Ed School Dean Kathleen McCartney said the film will focus the country’s attention on the problems facing education today.

“It’s a bit controversial, but occasionally, you need some of that,” Michael Flaherty—president and co-founder of Walden Media, which produced the film—said to the audience. “Occasionally, you need some outrage.”


The advance screening also featured a video message addressed directly to last night’s audience from the film’s director, Davis Guggenheim, who also directed “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Rey I. Faustino, a student at the Kennedy School, said that the issues illustrated in the film “hit straight home.”

“It was just another reminder that we need to continue the work that we’re doing,” said Faustino, who added that he hoped the film would be a catalyst for reform.

Tim J. O’Brien, a doctoral student at the Ed School, said that the film did not introduce him to new concepts but had a strong impact on him nonetheless.

“It’s a lot more powerful when you meet the families and their kids,” O’Brien said.

The film’s portrayal of American charter schools would be a potential topic of debate, according to several guests at the event.

O’Brien, for one, said he hoped that viewers did not conclude that charter schools were the only solution to the nation’s education problems.

Ronald F. Ferguson, senior lecturer on education and public policy at the Ed School and the Kennedy School, said the film did not give clear advice to address the problems of education.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a national conversation about the movie,” Ferguson said.

The Graduate School of Education will host a discussion panel for faculty members to respond to the film on Oct. 14. The advance screening and panel discussions are part of the Ed School’s Askwith Forums, a series of public lectures that encourage conversations about education.

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at