The New York Times today profiles Randi Weingarten, the union leader depicted as the devil in "Waiting for Superman," this year's IT documentary on students hoping to gain admission to several high-achieving charter schools. The article notes, as a few have, that the filmmaker, whose kids go to private schools, just happened to have omitted footage he'd gathered of a high-achieving charter school group with union teachers.
There's little in the world that's black and white, though you won't think that when the Billionaire Boys Club gets through trashing the Little Rock school district in the 2011 legislature to win approval of its charter school legislation package. (The House committee has already been bought; the Senate committee is a transaction or two away from purchase.)
In my continuing effort to pee into this mighty wind, I'd like to mention a good review of "Waiting for Superman" in the New Yorker. It highlights what is so often forgotten — the words "charter school" don't confer success or failure any more than the words "conventional public school" do.
The movie leaves the impression that charter schools are the only salvation for these children (and, by implication, for all American children), but, in the real world, charters do no better as a group than district schools, and often do worse. What’s needed is a new film that discovers why some charters work and others don’t, and that considers how the reforms in the best of them can be scaled to much larger schools.