Trailer Talk: ‘Waiting for Superman

What’s the scariest type of person in the world? No, not weird relatives who like to hug you for too long. The answer is confident morons. And according to the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” U.S. public schools are churning them out in droves.

The quality of public schools has been a morbidly running joke for decades. Teachers are rationed on the number of photocopies they can make. The cafeteria lunches are inedible. The band has to sell chocolate to survive the budget cuts. The pool hasn’t been cleaned since the Reagan administration. But the jokes stop being funny when it’s no longer the quality of the school, but the quality of the students, that is being called into question.

Director Davis Guggenheim — the same man behind “An Inconvenient Truth” — takes a look at five specific public school students who each show a lot of potential and crave a good education, but are being failed by a system that is stifling academic growth for a variety of reasons. By shedding light on several issues the education system experiences and putting faces to statistics — like how the U.S. students have fallen way behind other countries in math and science scores, but still rank No. 1 in confidence — he acknowledges problems that many are reluctant to see. I’m not sure what Superman has to do with these problems, unless he’s being called in to spin the Earth back in time, which would probably be the ideal solution.

“Waiting for ‘Superman’” first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, and plans to have a wider release in the fall.

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