The American public education system is in a miserable state. One out of four students drops out of high school. Educators, reformers and frustrated parents continue to demand change, but are blocked by a system that inhibits rather than encourages academic advancement. Contradictory state and federal regulations impede real education reform, crippling rather than strengthening the quality of public education. Our system is churning out a generation of poorly educated children-repeatedly breaking our nation's promise to leave no child behind, and hindering America's ability to compete in the global job market.
The documentary Waiting for Superman follows five fed-up parents who are trying to find a way for their children to escape sink-hole public schools and educational failure. Their best hope is to enter their children in long-shot lotteries for alternative public boarding and charter schools such as KIPP, Summit, SEED and the Harlem Success Academy. The film follows these kids in the days leading up to the lottery, and includes on screen commentary from Geoffrey Canada, Bill Gates, Jonathan Alter and Michelle Rhee among others. The book begins where the film ends-a lottery that decides a child's future is indicative of a deeply flawed and unacceptable system that needs to change.
Waiting for Superman: The Participant Guide is a tie-in anthology that develops the film's themes in three parts. Part one clearly recaps the issues raised in the film featuring essays written by those involved in its production. Part two probes these issues on the policy and systemic level. Each essay in part two is anchored to one of the children featured in the film, framing the dysfunction of the educational system through the lens of Anthony's, Francisco's, Daisy's, Bianca's, and Emily's emblematic experiences. Part three calls readers to act and accomplish lasting education reform. Essays by educators and reformers outline how to get involved now and innovative ways to reshape the American public educational system.