Saturday, October 9, 2010


The provocative crafting of “Waiting for Superman” trains the klieg lights on the crisis gripping America’s public schools.

But for me it also helps me better understand and appreciate the work Filipino educators bring to their schools and communities they serve.

The Filipino teachers, from Baltimore and Prince George’s County in Maryland to Washington DC, often talk to us about their daily struggles – the sometimes perilous challengers of working in the poorest and most underserved communities.

They speak about their schools, but more than anything else they talk about their students.

They have become invested in their wards. The film underlines the need for good teachers.

Davis Guggenheim’s “Waiting for Superman” is doing to American public education what he did for global warming through his award-winning “An Inconvenient Truth”.

The documentary followed children from Washington, Harlem, the Bronx, East Los Angeles and Redwood City in California escaping their underperforming schools for better charter schools by winning a lottery.

Their stories are dramatic as they’re heart-wrenching; and we can’t help but be saddened by a stark reminder that a good education – that greatest of equalizers – can often be so arbitrary.

We’ve drawn up a list of other documentaries we’d be watching on the big screen (time and budget permitting).

Freaknonomics. A documentary based on top selling Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s innovative and practical exposition of modern economics. The anthology examines different phenomenon (e.g., the world of Japanese sumo wrestling) that the Washington Post described as “provocative” and “hilarious”.

Inside Job. A documentery by Charles Ferguson promises to “cut through the fog of disinformation and punditry” about the 2008 US financial meltdown. Critic Bob Mondello told National Public Radio: “You can’t be a film critic for long without falling in love with the efficiency of documentaries…pretty much any 30 seconds in the documentary ‘Inside Job’ will make you want to throttle the nearest banker, broker or economic analyst.”

Gerrymandering. Documentary by Jeff Reichert delves into the “fine art” of redrawing voting districts. With the 2010 Census results coming out in the next few months, we’re curious how they’re going to change voting districts that could change the face of Congress and the nation itself. NBC’s Scott Ross: “Reichert not only manages to keep things light – no mean feat for a topic that can devolve into wonkery – he even builds suspense, as Proposition 11’s day of reckoning draws near, a story that was lost amid the furor of Proposition 8 on gay marriage.”

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