Brain Pickings

Waiting for “Superman”: Education by the Numbers


Why 26 seconds are enough to end up in prison, or what Superman has to do with the economy.

A couple of months ago, we raved about Waiting for “Superman” — an ambitious new documentary about the state of public education from filmmaker Davis Guggenheim of An Inconvenient Truth fame.

The film explores the human side of education statistics, following five promising, talented, intelligent kids through a system that inhibits rather than inspires academic and intellectual growth. While very much a curtain-peeler for a broken system, with all its “academic sinkholes” and “drop-out factories,” the film is also a hopeful manifesto for the transformational power of great educators, whom Guggenheim casts as the only true ushers of education reform.

This week, the film released an infographic-driven teaser in addition to standard trailer, offering a compelling visual narrative around some eye-opening education statistics.

In America right now, a kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. These drop-outs are 8 times more likely to go to prison, 50% less likely to vote, more likely to need social welfare assistance, not eligible for 90% of jobs, are being paid 40 cents to the dollar of earned by a college graduate, and continuing the cycle of poverty.”

The film ultimately asks the most critical question: How do we ensure that talented teachers help their students succeed?

We highly, highly encourage you to see Waiting for “Superman” when it hits theaters this fall — you can even pledge to do so right now. Meanwhile, the site offers a handful of ways to take action and lend a hand in fixing a broken system from the ground up.


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