October 8, 2010, - 3:03 pm

Only Moronic “Parents” Are “Waiting for Superman”

By Debbie Schlussel

At the end of “Waiting for Superman,” we watch several inner city families (and one suburban one) attending lotteries held to determine whether or not their kids will get to go to a few successful charter schools, where education is leaps and bounds above that of public schools and most kids attend and graduate from college.  The odds are slim because many kids have applied for only a very few slots.  Parents are crying and destroyed because their kids mostly didn’t win the coveted slots, and now, their kids’ futures are over (in their minds).

Here’s a tip:  if your kid’s whole future depends on winning the lottery, you’re incompetent–a bad parent and you made the wrong choices that got you to this point.  You brought your kid to this brink, NOT the public schools.  You didn’t teach them at home and you made the wrong choices even before that.  Sadly, that’s not the point of “Waiting” at all, but it should have been.  Nope, the point is that it’s our fault.  It’s everyone’s fault but the parents.  And that’s absurd.  But it’s chic to do that in our take-no-personal-responsibility culture.

You may have been subject to some of the excessive hype about this “documentary” gushed over by ignorant liberals (including Oprah) and directed by Davis Guggenheim (a/k/a Mr. Elisabeth Shue), the man who made another fake documentary, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and the Barack Obama film Democrats saw at their national nominating convention in 2008.

Don’t believe the hype.  This movie contained no new information–not to me, not to you.  And that’s why I had to laugh at a Detroit screening, this week, of “Waiting for Superman.”  The gasping, shocked–shocked!–liberals couldn’t believe how bad America’s public schools are.  That’s news?  That some–yes, only some–charter schools are better, isn’t news either.  It’s like people who see this movie are just discovering America . . . and ‘lectricity and sliced bread.

And, yes, what also isn’t news–and was completely omitted from the entire movie is that a big part of the problem with public schools in urban settings is single mother households, kids with no dads, and horrible parents often even when there is a dad.  All of these things breed problem students with lackluster intelligence, coping skills, behavior, discipline, and other basic requirements of human behavior conducive to learning.  I guess that was “An Inconvenient Truth” for Guggenheim.

Sorry, but many kids in the inner city aren’t learning because their parents don’t encourage them to.  Their “parents” may not even be in their lives, or they may be there but on welfare or doing drugs or engaged in crime.  But that’s not the well-massaged, pretty picture Guggenheim showed us.  Almost every kid in this movie had a mom and a dad, and they were all great kids who were absolute geniuses and not at all behavioral problems.  Do you really believe this is exemplary of most kids in the inner city, where it’s not just the schools that are failing the kids, but the kids and their parents who are failing the schools?  Only if you are a moron.  And that’s how I’d describe anyone who buys into this movie.

The movie points out that, in the early 1970s, American kids began falling behind kids from other countries in reading and math.  Hey, guess what happened just before that, which the movie never mentions?  The sexual revolution, where women slept around and no longer required any commitment from men before sex.  (It also included an increase in the use of illegal drugs.)  That brought us to the ’70s in which divorces skyrocketed and the trend of kids being born out of wedlock also began to trend up.  Hmmm . . . why isn’t any of this mentioned?  Sorry, but we know this has a lot to do with kids not achieving academically.  Study after study shows that kids don’t do as well in school and are more likely to be troublemakers and/or drop out without a dad in their lives.  That’s in addition to the fact that kids without a dad are more likely to have sex and kids at an early age, use drugs, and commit crimes.  All of these things contribute to disruptions, disciplinary problems, and failure by kids in an academic setting.

None of this is mentioned in the movie, though.  Because liberals don’t want to make a negative pronouncement on the awful lifestyle they brought upon America.  They don’t want to take the blame for the consequences they–in no small part–caused.

The movie goes out of its way to avoid putting any responsibility on urban “families” and their deviant lifestyles–which are now the norm, since deviance has been defined down–for the sad state of American kids’ intellectual capabilities and levels of knowledge.  That would be “racism,” and we can’t dare call out Black America (and, now, a significant portion of White America, including Bristol Palin) for sleeping around, fathering and giving birth to kids, and putting them in this environment.  But that’s a huge part of the problem.  Many of these kids will never have the IQ required to become doctors and scientists and engineers, whether it’s because their parents did drugs and/or didn’t get proper neo-natal care and vitamins when they were conceived and/or in the womb, or because they just don’t have it.  And, adding to that, many of these kids have parents–and a hip-hop culture–which encourage them to disrespect authority, including teachers, and have zero appreciation for basic math and reading skills.  That’s not the fault of public schools or teachers.  But it’s the problem with which they are faced.

The movie focused on only one kid with a single mother, and only one kid raised by his grandmother.  The rest of the children featured had two parents at home in their lives.  That’s just not how it is in our public schools, especially in urban settings where the biggest failures in the public school system reign supreme.  Not even close.  And that makes the movie entirely inaccurate.

The one grandmother who was raising a boy in Washington, DC, spoke of her son (the boy’s father) who died after a life as a drug addict.  She says that he dropped out of school at 12, and “just did his thing.”  Um, where the heck was she, when the father of this boy dropped out at 12 and “just did his thing?”  Is that America’s fault?  Or her fault?  With no dad in his life and knowing his dad didn’t care and died young as a drug addict, the kid is less likely to do well academically.  And no teacher or public school is responsible for that, nor can they easily overcome these factors.

Sorry, but the grandmother is responsible for this situation.  She says she doesn’t know where the boy’s mother is and that the mother has had other kids with different men.  Hmmm . . . doesn’t that absentee womb donor bear any responsibility here?  With circumstances like this, can we really blame schools for the academic underachievement of kids from broken homes?  While this kid is shown to be a good kid and interested in learning, most kids from that type of background exhibit behavioral problems extraordinaire.

The one single mother in the movie is shown to be extremely concerned about her child’s education, working hard to pay for her to go to Catholic school, and insisting that she will go to college, no matter what.  Let’s be honest.  Is this really what the average Black single mother in urban America is like?  Absolutely not.  If it were, things would be much different. And if this single mother had made better choices (like not having sex and having a kid out of wedlock), she wouldn’t be in this position, or maybe she’d have a husband who could help pay to keep her daughter in private school.

Yes, intractable teachers’ unions standing firm on tenure and the inability to fire bad teachers is a big problem–and if you watch this movie, that’s the ONLY problem.  But there are plenty of good teachers who just cannot teach these incompetent kids with even more incompetent “parents,” who are nothing more than baby-producing womb and sperm donors, who’ve helped significantly in fostering the awful environment in which the public schools find themselves.  A Black Detroit public school teacher I know is an excellent teacher, but his rhetorical question is, “How can I teach kids whose fathers–if they exist–won’t come to conferences and who have tattoos saying, ‘F-CK YOU,’ in big letters on their necks?  These kids don’t want to learn because their parents don’t care or worse.”

Writing about (and predictably drooling over) the movie, today, is an extremely liberal columnist for a major Detroit newspaper (whose name won’t be mentioned here, lest I elevate this irrelevant ignoramus).  If you’ve ever struggled to read her inane, racist, stupid, anti-Israel columns, you know she got her job through affirmative action.  And, hey, she’s one of these single mothers I’m talking about who are part of the problem.  Based on her columns, she’s not a smart woman to begin with, so her kid–likely inheriting her “intellect”–won’t be much more so.  But then she compounded it by having a kid with no man in her life.  Are teachers responsible for that?  No, but that’s probably why she loves this fraudulent “documentary.”  It lets people like her shirk their responsibility and put the whole blame on teachers’ unions and bad teachers, even though people like her are the liberals who enabled the liberal teachers’ unions and they come together on most politics.  Hey, let’s blame all the public school problems on the Jewish white chick who heads the American Federation of Teachers.  Easy bete noir.

And then there are some other falsities and convenient half truths in the movie.  The movie makes it seem as if charter schools are the answer.  In fact, many charters schools are failures.  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like public school money from tax coffers funding Islamic charter schools parading as “Arabic” ones or Afro-centric charter schools run by the Nation of Islam in Detroit and Milwaukee.  Do you?  Think their test scores and college acceptance rates are as high as Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Success Academy or the KIPP Academies, featured in the movie?  Think again.

The KIPP Academies–a chain of charter schools which are all over the country–teach kids facts and information through rap songs.  Is that really the king of “learning” that lasts?  Is rap music and the hip-hop lifestyle how you want American kids to be “educated”?  Only if you have no problem with America’s further decline and dumbing down.  And wasn’t that what these schools were supposed to be combating?

The movie says that kids in Finland do better than kids in America because they have a charter school-like setting.  Well, while there’s a high rate of out-of-wedlock childbirth in Finland (as in many Scandinavian countries), how many of the cities in Finland have the problems and lack of parenting that urban American cities have?  Only the ones with a growing population of Arab Muslim immigrants.

Geoffrey Canada (an audio separated-at-birth sound-alike to Denzel Washington) brags that his charter school, Harlem Success, has a nearly 100% college acceptance rate and almost as high a rate for those accepted to college graduating and getting jobs–higher, he and the movie’s narrator gloat, than the rates for White American students in the suburbs.  But almost all of those kids are Black.  While many are smart and no doubt achieved their place, there is still rampant affirmative action in America in admissions and even in special classes for minorities, as was the case when I was a student at the University of Michigan.  If they ever get rid of affirmative action, then we’ll know if these kids really placed ahead, at the same rate, or, even, below.

Today, though, college is like high school used to be.  It doesn’t mean anything, other than that you can have a good time going to frat parties and keggers and study courses like “The Life & Times of Madonna & Lourdes.”  It doesn’t mean you’re smart or that you’ll be a success, contrary to the pronouncements in this movie.  Just ask any of the many unemployed college grads living at home with their parents and struggling to find a job and pay back loans.

Not everyone is going to achieve at the same academic level, nor should they.  Some people have a top-notch intellect, others have very studious and persistent hard work habits in school.  Others have neither of these, and they won’t achieve. Not everyone can be at the top, or that would be just “average.”  IQ is something inherent through birth and nurturing by parents and environment.  It can’t be “taught.”  You either have a high one or you don’t.

And not everyone in America can or should be doctors and lawyers.  We have plenty.  Some people need to be plumbers and cab drivers.  Some need to be small business owners.  One of America’s problems is that everyone wants to be the professionals, and now America doesn’t produce anything.

Another myth, furthered by Bill Gates’ appearance in the movie, is that American software companies, including Oracle (which was specifically cited), must import software developers and programmers because we don’t have enough educated and skilled Americans who can do the job.  That’s the big business lobby excuse for importing cheaper labor from foreign countries.  We have plenty of laid off programmers and developers who are collecting unemployment after they’ve been replaced by cheaper foreigners brought here or outsourcing to overseas  labor.  On this site, I’ve repeatedly detailed brazen law firms giving seminars to companies on how to do this, get around immigration and labor laws, and not get caught.

I found the long, drawn out scenes of the lotteries for the charter schools to be boring and unnecessary.   Did I really need to see the whole lottery at each of  4-6 schools?  As much as I needed to hear the sobbing of liberals in the audience crying when the kids didn’t get the slots and had to return to public school.  And the much of the movie was just as repetitive . . . not to mention, preachy.

Posters for this movie say,

The fate of our country won’t be decided on a battlefield, it will be determined in a classroom.

Wrong. The fate of our country will be decided at home, beginning with whether to have sex, get pregnant, and have a kid out of wedlock. Then it goes on to whether the parents are together, married, sober, and clean. . . and what they teach their kids BEFORE those kids enter school. If the right things don’t happen there and then, it’s almost beyond reclamation.

Parents can teach their kids plenty–like how to behave, how to enjoy learning, and how to make the right decisions instead of making the wrong one and then depending on a bad-odds lottery.  And parents can educate their kids, a process that should take place from birth and isn’t solely the job of parents and public schools.

Unfortunately, America isn’t told any of that in “Waiting for Superman.”  Anyone “Waiting for Superman” to save their kids and not taking initiative his- or herself is incompetent and has no business raising kids.


Watch the trailer . . .

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

42 Responses

Considering liberals are doing their best to dismantle the traditional family, things will get worse before they get better.

And they should spare us the hypocrisy over what their handiwork has produced.

Given that they are not going to strengthen the family and allow families to do the work they should of raising the next generation, America is headed for continued decline. All the posters bewailing the plight of the country won’t change it.

NormanF on October 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Wow, though I haven’t seen the movie, I was anxious to learn more about it. It’s a shame that so many people gloss over the fact that a stable family life is essential in raising smart, educated children, not good public schools. If kids aren’t taught by their parents example that hard work and discipline are key to succeeding in life, they will rarely, if ever, achieve their potential (in school or in life for that matter.) Thanks Debbie for posting such a thoughtful and detailed review!

whtabtbill on October 8, 2010 at 3:31 pm

How we are all smart on the inside mind but are selected by others from the outside?

Augusto on October 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Please, don’t overdo the “affirmative action” thing. First off, plenty of white kids who aren’t too bright or motivated go to college, and very good ones too. (George W. Bush, with his degrees from Harvard and Yale, comes to mind. Somehow, I don’t think he was who you were thinking of when you stated “we need more plumbers.”)

Second, the vast majority of colleges and universities do not use affirmative action because they are not selective. So, where affirmative action is a major issue for Michigan-Ann Arbor, and is somewhat an issue for Michigan State, it is not an issue at all for Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan etc., the sort of schools that produce the vast majority of Michigan college graduates whether they are black or white. So rather than looking for reverse racism under every stone, it is far more likely that a great many of the Harlem Success college-bound graduates are simply going to City College of New York, which has an open admissions policy, and similar institutions. I would imagine that a similar school in California sends most of their students to the Cal State University system, and that their southern counterparts probably send most of their kids to HBCUs.

In any event, thanks for the heads up about the KIPPs, which are a favorite of the local liberals (though they refer to themselves as moderates) in the media. What a shame …

G: You wrote:

“Plenty of white kids who aren’t too bright or motivated go to college, and very good ones too.”

Agreed 100%. I went to U-Michigan Ann Arbor, so yes, it was a big issue there. It would be interesting to see where Harlem Success kids go to college. I’d bet a good number get into prestigious schools, and I’m not saying they didn’t deserve it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if race was a deciding factor in some cases. That’s the thing: until affirmative action ends, we’ll never know. When I was in high school, I went to a majority Black high school, and very smart Black students who deserved admission to Michigan were angry when undeserving kids got in because it cast doubt. DS

Gerald on October 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Is it America’s teachers or America’s parents at fault? I would say 95% of the time the parents is at fault. Better parents = Better education. A good parent will have educated children in spite of bad schools. They will seek out the necessary ways to make sure their child is educated. Parents will blame the schools for their own shortcomings so they won’t be held accountable. Just look at the disparity in test scores of Asian, Indian American, and Jewish children versus Black and Latino children. Obviously the gap shows the difference in who is parenting. But liberals will call you racist if you mention this. And they will demand more money because of the effects of bad parenting.

CaliforniaScreaming on October 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Whenever any union starts talking about “our kids” -grab your wallet.

Ripper on October 8, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Thanks Debbie for your in depth review. Liberals think more money is needed in public schools, but what is truly needed is good morals… which means everyone taking responsiblity for their role and having expectation that those roles will be fullfilled – parent – teacher – student. Parents do not even know what their role is anymore, its been lost in the generational hand-me-downs while we’ve been consumed with social and personal progressive experimentations. There’s not much hope for kids until their parents get with the program!

Mz Brown on October 8, 2010 at 5:08 pm

it constantly stuns me how non-proactive african-american parents are. Rather than rely on hard work their futures are trusted to winning a lottery. now for a minute imagine asian parents doing this! Is there no work ethic left in the AA subclass? Their collective stupidity defies belief.

chuck on October 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I’m sure there must be a few decent documentaries here and there. If I said there weren’t any, I’m sure other readers would respond, and correct me, and come up with a few.

But there sure aren’t very many. The ones that I’ve been forced to see, e.g. PBS documentaries on American History, and things like that, even leaving aside their PC bias, are really dumbed down. Numerous college educated adults (sic) really like these documentaries and feel (not “think” but “feel”) that they are really learning something from them, which of course is a manifestation of the rampant dumbing down that this post discusses.

I think there’s plenty of fault to go around, lousy parents, lousy teachers, lousy curriculum. The teachers blame the parents, the parents blame the teachers, and they are all right (yes, there are a few decent teachers, but not very many — Randi Weingarten couldn’t add 1/3 and 1/4 in her head, and she graduated from Cornell of all places).

Little Al on October 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm

“If your kid’s whole future depends on winning the lottery, you’re incompetent–a bad parent and you made the wrong choices that got you to this point.” EXACTLY my opinion as well. These words should repeated ver-batim by countless TV talking heads, edumicashun ‘experts’, and yes- elected officials. Strong and effective medicine needed in a culture that pins hope and success on ‘waiting for the big one’.

Not Ovenready on October 8, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Debbie, Smart review on a dumb movie. You left out that Bill Gates new fund for college education is specifically targetted to leave out poor white kids who parents don’t have the money for college. White kids need not apply to Bill Gates philanthropy, only minorities. (By the way aren’t Bill and Melinda’s children “white”?) Perish the thought.
So Bill and Melinda are sooo worried about finding smart computer programmers that they won’t fund college costs for white people who by the way were the people who founded the computer industry. Or didn’t Bill know that?
My working theory of Bill Gates is that he is not the creator of his vast wealth. It was his powerful and smart lawyer father who turned the tables on IBM to have them pay royalties instead of buy outright the software needed for their personal computer models. Bill had written some software but so had 1000 other geeks who weren’t so lucky as to have a genius lawyer as a father. So don’t look to Bill and Melinda for any earth shattering revelations on human nature and learning.

Geoffry Canada is another story. Debbie can you expound further on how Mr. “righteous” Canada lost $10,000,000 (ten million) with Berny Madoff? Is this true and if so where did the money come from?

Good review.

T: Thanks, but I’ve written about the racism of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation previously on this site. DS

Tim on October 8, 2010 at 10:33 pm

You hit the nail on the head for this one. Yes there are bad teachers and schools. Yes the unions use their clout and kids do suffer. However, the 70’s born out of the 60’s created the garbage we have today.

Kids don’t want to put in the effort to get an education. Like you I am jewish and getting an education was paramount in my family. To not get one was a sin. In fact in the early 70’s my mother did something courageous. Since MLK day was not official in NY my mother made the elementary school remain open. She gave us a bag lunch and the janitor had to keep the school open while I and my school and my brother sat in the lunch room all day.

As for this documentary, well I have had enough of the liberal garbage. Also Gates may be rich but he is lacking in many things. The guy was so obsessed with computers he had no social skills and lacked any real world view. His company and many others import cheap labor instead of taking his billions and creating a school where engineers can get the continuing education they need.

However, he and his ilk including his wife who married into his wealth want to tell everybody to give their money away. Surely he has enough to help out Americans as much as he wants to help the third world.

spaceship22 on October 9, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Spaceship, you know that one of the reasons that Bill and Melinda Gates are suddenly “philanthropists” is because Microsoft got sued by the government (antitrust) during the Clinton Administration and LOST. I think after that happened, Bill got some PR people who told him he needed to get with the liberal program and set up a foundation (which is good for tax purposes anyway) and start throwing money at liberal causes, or he would find Microsoft in court over and over again. Prior to that time, he NEVER gave money to charity, preferring to plow his money back into building his company. That made liberals consider his company the “evil empire” and made them a target for lawsuits and contempt from the left. I just laugh whenever I read anything about Bill and Melinda Gates and their “philanthropy,” knowing it is basically forced.

    DG in GA on October 9, 2010 at 11:50 am

I can tell you’ve never taught in a public school before. Or probably taught much of anything to anyone below the age of voting. But to say that it’s not at all teacher’s fault, and it’s 95% parent’s fault is total baloney.

Yes, there are families who don’t value an education. Most of these families don’t value this education because they themselves were poorly educated, for numerous reasons. Your solution, to mostly blame the parents, will just continue to create this cycle of poverty and ignorance.

If you truly care about education in this country, you will work to foster schools with a strong community focus, where parents are invited to volunteer and share whatever expertise or knowledge they can bring with them.

It’s funny that you put the blame on the ‘sexual revolution’. If you want to ignore the fact that thousands of teenagers have been having premarital unprotected sex for thousands of years (they were taught abstinence), then you may want to ignore studies that show that while yes, a child can have difficulties in a single parent home, they can grow up fine if they has a strong COMMUNITY and support system around them.

Because it takes a village to raise a child. Whether this village is a core of 2 parents, 1 parent, a couple grandparents, or a safe, secure school environment, it doesn’t matter.

But should I really be surprised that you have trouble understanding anything about ‘urban plight’? Until you have experienced it, don’t go blindly condemning an increasingly large portion of population. This negativity only hurts the issue, and does nothing to solve this very real problem.

And yes, by saying that ‘urban america’ is ‘black america’ IS inherently racist, for a multitude of reasons, one of which being that poor whites, hispanics, asians, and others also live in this community.

Not to be rude, but this is one of the most ignorant articles I’ve read in a long time. Rule of thumb: Don’t talk about something you know so very little about, high atop your pedestal.

Heebster on October 9, 2010 at 1:09 am

    Nice try, Heebster. You and your Liberal pablum are WRONG as always. Just because you don’t like that DS says the truth, does not mean she is wrong. You’re just all bent out of shape because she has the guts to say what almost everyone knows, but is too afraid to say. You’d rather go 100% on emotion…which does not help ANYONE but makes YOU feel good…even when your idiot ideology is crap. We are on to you.

    Take your village and go live in it with Hillary “Rotten” Clinton. I’m sure she’ll be as sweet as a plump, old granny baking you freshly made cookies. Most likely, she’ll have POWER, live large and serve you regurgitated vomit in a shanty hut she’ll make you live in. Just as a good Commie should.

    Keep on keeping them blinders on. Just like a President or a senator who NEVER has to worry about an illegal alien taking THEIR job, you don’t have to live in the inner city and see the horrible, shameful destruction of the poor. That’s ok…keep ignoring the 71% out of wedlock birth rate the black community has. Keep ignoring that DADs and intact families make a difference. After all, it’s all about, your big, warm, Liberal heart, isn’t it?

    DS has the guts to say the truth. We know it and know you have NO new ideas (or a clue) in the marketplace of ideas.

    Skunky on October 9, 2010 at 11:56 am

      No, your ideas aren’t new either. Actually, I have lived and taught in inner cities and I’ve see the poor things that happen. I’ve also seen very poor communities working together and trying to better their collective situation. But that’s right, in America you’d probably say we can’t live like that. It’s every man, woman and child for themselves, or then it’s SOCIALISM.

      But you’d rather them pay for some misdeeds, some mistakes they may have made. Which is nice because rich people are born with more opportunities, more chances, and more leeway when they do make mistakes. When you condemn these children to the same fate as their parents because their parents are poor and uneducated? That’s like blaming a child for being born out of wedlock.

      Illegal aliens, and the 101 people out of 300 million who have a Senatorial or Presidential job are not the issue here.

      If it’s about my ‘warm, big, liberal heart’, does that mean for you it’s about your big, fat, conservative wallet? I have the feeling you’ve never volunteered an hour in your life to help out others less fortunate than yourself.

      It must be nice not to feel any blame or civic/moral responsibility for the problems in this society. Ignorance must be bliss.

      Heebster on October 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm

        Ding dong, Heebster, YOU’RE wrong. You wish I never volunteered or had a big, fat conservative wallet. My ideas may not be NEW, but they work..your ideas do NOT work and you have nothing new or workable to add.

        LOL. I used to be a Liberal…but I didn’t like the hyposcrisy or lies. Unlike you who has decided that you love Liberal lies…no matter how many times they do not work.

        I knew I was being zoomed after awhile…what’s YOUR excuse, snowflake?

        Skunky on October 10, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Heebster, I gotta side with Debbie on this one. The decline of the public schools, especially in the inner city, DID have its origins in the 1960’s, and I think largely due to Lyndon Johnson and his “War on Poverty” which made it financially possible to promote single parenthood. You get what you pay for, and Johnson’s liberal welfare programs did more to hasten the decline, primarily of the “black community,” than anything else. I am old enough to remember how things were BEFORE the 1960’s, and I promise you that the “black community” did NOT have a 70% illegitimacy rate back then. There were other problems, to be sure, but that wasn’t one of them.

    The leading cause of children living in poverty today is SINGLE PARENTHOOD. When women make the choice to have babies without a husband, they almost guarantee that those children will be raised in poverty.

    If you spend any time in the inner city, as I have doing volunteer work to train these women so they can get jobs and become productive members of society, you’ll see that the welfare state in this country has spawned GENERATIONS of people who not only do not work, but they don’t know ANYONE who works and they don’t even know enough to know that you have to get out of bed in the morning and go to work (or school) EVERY DAY.

    Prior to the 1960’s when a single girl got pregnant, LOTS of them got married. Not an ideal situation, and a lot of those marriages ended in divorce, but at least it showed young people that they would have to take responsibility for their actions. It also helped to ensure that there would be a male who would have to provide financial support for the children. The expanded welfare state begun in the 1960’s made it financially possible for men to abandon their offspring, and for women to feel like single motherhood and multiple illegitimate children was a “lifestyle choice.”

    As for the “Waiting for Superman” movie, I’m rather surprised that liberals would be willing to go out on a limb and blame the teachers’ unions for the failure of the schools. There are a lot of issues at play in the failure of the public schools, and the unions are certainly one of them. But the more important failures are cultural. You can’t get the best and the brightest teachers to teach in urban schools (except for a very few) because who wants to take their life in their hands every day to go to work? Who wants to teach in an environment where the hip-hop culture pushes the kids to drop out and be drug dealers and single mothers? Who wants to teach in an environment where the children who actually WANT to learn are ostracized because being smart and taking education seriously are “acting white?”

    As for your charge that criticizing urban schools is r-a-c-i-s-t, you’re right that there are poor white kids and poor asian kids in the urban schools. But having been a teacher, I’m reasonably certain that the poor asian kids, unless they’re in gangs, are being pushed hard at home to excel in school. It really IS a problem that blacks ridicule other blacks who want to do well in school, and taunt them with “acting white.”

    DG in GA on October 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm

      The issue is that you want schools to reflect YOUR own values and your own culture (which seems, if I am correct, to be the predominate white privileged culture). You want these children to be taught that there is really only a couple ways to live a proper, successful life. Which is fine in a private or religious school. Teaching in a public school you need to be more tolerant, and more accepting of the culture, even if you don’t agree with it. Trying to impose a viewpoint will cause many poor minority children to reject a mainstream culture that they are told is trying to ‘keep them down’.

      I’ll refer you to a recent article where a large public school showed how a school’s culture can be a huge hurtle in teaching

      effectively. When children are empowered, they CAM and DO succeed. Here a school fostered a positive community: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/education/28school.html

      It sounds to me, that as a teacher, you’ve given up on a large portion of your students before they enter the classroom. That’s a real shame, and I am truly sorry that your experiences have made you feel this way. Too many teachers feel this way, and I hope that the above example can be a starting point for many other public schools.

      Heebster on October 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm

It’s not just “ignorant liberals” (an apt phrase) who are gushing over this, but quite a few who call themselves conservative, going on about how the schools must really be in bad shape if a liberal-left filmmaker who did an enviro-prop piece helmed by Al Gore says so, and so on, ad nauseam. Rare is the person like Debbie who points out the truth behind the truth.

ConcernedPatriot on October 9, 2010 at 1:29 am

Concerned,involved parents try to get their kids into better schools and you attack them? These parents aren’t the problem. Most don’t have the education or the work schedule that would allow them to teach their children at home. So they have to send their kids to local schools that have been destroyed by other people’s children or find a better school that enforces rules so teachers can focus on teaching academics.

In any inner-city class, there are children whose parents value learning and teach decent behavior. But a minority of disruptive students can waste most of the teacher’s time and energy. Add students with learning disabilities or simply kids who’ve fallen way behind. The no-problem students aren’t likely to get what they need.

The difficult students drive out teachers, so the school has a lot of new, inexperienced teachers and a few veterans who’ve lowered their expectations.

Perhaps SuperGirl and SuperBoy, the offspring of SuperMom and SuperDad will be able to learn in these conditions. But most normal kids wih normally competent parents will not be able to overcome the deficiencies of a lousy school; they can learn and have a good future if they attend a well-run school.

Joanne Jacobs on October 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Heebster has taught? Sure wasn’t English (at least let’s hope not–)


But to say that it’s not at all teacher’s fault,

You want these children to be taught that there is really only a couple ways

Little Al on October 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm


I knew seeing Bill Gates and Oprah together on her show and the left-leaning audience in Oprah’s studio having seen the movie…we were in trouble. As I saw the parade of stars of this liberal agenda, I challenged myself to not fall into the trance of the “sad state” of education and how Prez Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” failed all.

After reading your thorough analysis of the film and the agenda, I AM MAD!!! I am disgusted by the Left’s ongoing attempt to filter out the truth of these types of movies…fake documentaries. All of Michael Moore’s films and now this guy. Where is the truth?

I will tell you where the truth is – hidden. The rhetoric and feministic perspective of these people almost makes me embarrassed to be an American. I served this country under Pres. George H.W. Bush and never had I been more proud. I don’t know where we are headed if we continue to allow these god-less, nation haters to win positions of authority.

Keep driving them and us to truth, Debbie!!!

paulthedeak on October 9, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Whose fault is it, the school, student, classmates, community, parents, teachers and their unions? 100% everyones. They all play a very important role and it only takes one to ruin a child’s chance for better education.

Heebster makes me laugh with the “it takes a village” bit. In my youth if I misbehaved the “village” would let my parents know and they’d take care of business, pronto. But people like Heebster wants the village to take care of his kids for him, just don’t push your values on them! Basically he just wants your money to educate them (his way) and pay for their lunches and bus rides, but please, keep your morals to yourself.

“it takes a village” …to raise an idiot?

theShadow on October 9, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Debbie, you are my heroine! Thank you for speaking TRUTH.

I’m leaving my calling — calling, not job — as an English teacher after 31 years because I’ve had enough of conflicting federal, state, and local demands and an increasing number of young people who are too often not simply ill-mannered and lacking in any culture but sometimes almost feral.

And I’m not being fair to the majority of my students and their parents, who are great. But the courts and the regulators favor the tattoo’d, the drugged, the widening concept of “special needs,” and the violent over good families.

Mack on October 10, 2010 at 10:02 am

Spot on, Debbie. I just watched the film yesterday and HAD to see if you reviewed it. I dig the links you make to college education and admissions (something completely lost in the film itself).

I wrote my own comments on it here. I think some of the lows of the film involved not appropriately addressing parochial schools, as well as criticizing “tracking”:


For the record, I went to Parochial school in Lansing, K-8, and then one of the public high schools. I’ve seen both sides of this spectrum.

College, however, was by far the largest disappointment.

Preffertiri on October 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Let’s say I agree with the premise that virtually all the “parents” of kids in the depicted urban communities are scumbags. (Assuming this despite seeing in this movie alone hundreds if not thousands of seemingly-present caregivers hoping for a better chance at a school for their children). But, again, let’s assume they’re all scumbags, and that the main reason for their “scumbag-iness” is a DIRECT result of the sexual revolution, liberal/communist agendas, absent morality, and general unworthiness. Let’s assume all this to be true.

How are these things the fault of the individual children who live in these environments? As a weekly-churchgoing Christian and Sunday School teacher, I’m more than a little appalled by the venom, vehement disregard, and anger tossed the way of these already downtrodden people.

But, even if you think these people AND their kids deserve every piece of crud they get — you reap what you sow — then just look at the numbers alone. The number of kids dropping out of school in our inner cities is staggering. These millions of annual drop-outs are NOT contributing members of society. They offer no value to this country. They demand social services, or get tossed in jail to the tune of a huge chunk of change paid by you and me. Just from a NUMBERS perspective, it makes sense to OWN this problem — even just a little bit.

Yes, I appeal to self-interest, as it seems that altruism is clearly a pipe-dream — at least for Debbie and her self-congratulatory lemmings.

OKA on October 10, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I’m torn between laughter at how Ms. Schlussel is raging at what is, essentially, a conservative position on public schools and unease at the, shall we say, “awkward racial undertones” in this piece. Thank you Roger Ebert for pointing out this goldmine of mildly disturbing hilarity!

Royalewithcheese on October 12, 2010 at 12:13 am

How on earth do you know what the average black single mother in urban America is like? A prior life? I must say I’m not shocked by the complete and utter ingorance and your inability to see the total picture. As is the norm with conservatives who lack the capacity to look beyond their own existence and circumstances, you MISSED the point of the film! How do you explain the “middle class” two parent having white child in the movie? She had an inability to test well and so she too was waiting on a lottery to get access to a better education. The system is failing ALL kids!

By the way, this was written by a black mother with a son who has a MENSA IQ, got a solid education, AND a college degree. I guess you think that’s not the norm, since you KNOW what the “average” black mother is like. YOU JUST DON’T GET IT.

notsurprisedbythestupidity on October 15, 2010 at 1:10 am

I’ll pray for you maam. Clearly you miss the concept of these kids succeeding with the hand they were dealt. But I know that’s the conservative agenda, “I have mine so they need to get their own” even if it’s near impossible from where they start. You’d be right where those kids are if you were in their shoes. Like I said, I’ll pray for you.

Martin on November 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Read the first few sentences & realized it was a donkey braying — y’all right-wingers should just stick to beating yer wife and kids and leave the thinking to those who can. . .

Rembrandt on November 22, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Hey Debbie, I have an idea. Why don’t you take a brown pencil and outline your lips, and then take a tweezer and pluck your eyebrows so they look like two caterpillars rearing up? Then people could see how smart you really are.

Rembrandt on November 22, 2010 at 7:34 pm

We can spend all day pointing fingers at who is responsible for destroying our educational system. Pointing fingers will not help solve the problem.

We can argue that parents should be more responsible in educating their children. Making this argument does not change the reality that many parents were never given an positive example of how to raise their own children.

As a country, we must work together to break this vicious cycle that threatens not just our children, but the future of America.

Break up the teacher’s unions now. Reward great teachers with control over their classrooms, financial benefits and job security. Terminate under-performing teachers so that we can clear the wave for a new crop of talented young teachers to reform our classrooms.

We can do this without spending more money. We can do this while still emphasizing the importance of strong family structures and values.

Who loses in this scenario? Bad teachers lose. I can think of nothing more American than rewarding success over mediocrity. Together, we can bring our country back to where it should be.

Joe on February 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm

” Let’s be honest. Is this really what the average Black single mother in urban America is like?” So then, tell me what the average White single mother is like, either in urban or rural America? Why focus on Black and Urban parents in your blog, when the film maker documents the dropping behind of American kids across the board when compared to the top achievers in the international scholastic rankings? We understand the true nature of your blog when we read that the Black urban kid’s parents might be: doing drugs, involved in crime, or..(drum roll please,)..”on welfare.” On Welfare? What the Hell does being on welfare have to do with parenting!? Only in your stereotype! You should be grateful that you have never needed to be on welfare or found yourself homeless for a reason that may be just beyond your control. Why don’t you blog on this: proportionately, the greatest number of homeless in this country are veterans. Not just combat veterans, veterans. So if they all were able to collect welfare because they had an address, it would somehow be their own shortcomings or failures that put them on the dole? Is it their shortcomings that put them on the street? Instead of insinuating that urban Black or Latino people are on welfare because they are just too lazy to work, and would rather live on $300 bucks a month and supplement their income with drug dealing (seriously, you believe that!?) Why don’t you do a little research as Mr. Guggenheim has done, and find the true source of poverty in this country, and what might actively be done to adress said problem. The only thing you say here that makes sense is that parents need to have an active role in their children’s lives. You think plenty of rich white men haven’t schtupped some woman and then left her to fend for herself?

Proud Veteran on February 20, 2011 at 7:45 am

I ran across this blog accidentally, as I was doing some extended research following my viewing ‘Waiting for Superman’, with my wife and children.

As a Republican, I was skeptical about this movie, because a Democrat friend recommended it, and I believe the Liberal influence on Education is almost criminal.

I enjoyed this movie, and believe the core message is that Unions and undeserved tenure are the main constraint on the quality of our Educational system.

While I can appreciate many of Debbie’s points, I think there is a grey area between a Right to Education in America, and a hope for a better future through a quality Education system. The sad part is that if the Unions were dismantled and efforts were put into truly creating a better system, we’d all be better off.

Everyone of us has been conditioned by the Union mentality, one way or another. The questions is: what will we do about it?

Walter Steele on February 28, 2011 at 8:43 am

Thank you. I am a public school teacher and I totally agree. I would take a pay cut for kids who behaved and for parents who cared and “got it”! Its amazing how many kids have single parents and I teach in the suburbs. In the urban area it’s almost 100% of kids who come from broken homes. In my own life, my son I had as a single mother does not fair as well as my 2 I had within my marriage.

Cheri on May 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Except why are test scores and IQ scores higher, educational attainment rates greater, teen pregnancy rates lower and marriages more durable in “blue” states that most enthusiastically reject the 1950s nuclear family model? To the extent there is a correlation between traits like IQ and a conservative embrace of “family values,” that correlation is negative.

bert on June 3, 2011 at 12:49 am

I think you’ve missed the point of the movie entirely. Of course, NOBODY is denying that a solid family base is critical. Unfortunately, for many children from a variety of backgrounds including those in rural, suburban, urban, white, black, right and poor families that is not the case. Are you suggesting that our school systems shouldn’t at least attempt to support these children in the best way possible? Of course no charter school, no school in fact, is perfect, but what the film seeks to demonstrate that certain schools are having huge success educating children without the ideal familial support system. The movie is asking us to look at these schools and see what they do to replicate them. It’s not an issue of money, but an issue of facing the facts and realizing that what the public school system right now is not working for the vast majority of children (including those in suburban districts) in it. It’s time to find some examples that are doing extraordinary things. That’s what the movie is trying to do – set an example. It’s unfortunate that so many people seem to sit back and say this isn’t their problem. It’s everyone’s problem. An uneducated work force breeds drug problems and crime. It breeds a population unable to contribute in the work force resulting in a major drain on public resources – something that we all pay for in one way or another. There are options to improve the system we have. On what grounds does it make sense to turn a blind eye? Sure there are other problems too be solved too (drugs, violent households, hunger, poverty), but the movie is suggesting that some schools have figured out how to solve the issue of education even in the face other major issues that stem from home life. Why not attempt to follow their lead!?

LGilchrest on June 26, 2011 at 4:50 am

It is true that parents or grand parents are in part responsible in this, but is that a reason to give up on these kids just because they parents made some bad choices?
I believe it is unfair to punish the kids for it.
Moreover, what is racism conscious or not is to omit the Boston Busing court order in the 70s and how the angry white adults used to throw stones to black children from the inner cities being bused to better schools. As a consequence, private schools enrollment jumped, because let’s face it, white America always wanted to be segregated from black and brown America, especially if they are poor. Segregation is not the answer to bad parenting. It just make the problem worst. And does anyone notice the pile of racist cliche and comments that this blog contain????? Like this one for instance: “Geoffrey Canada (an audio separated-at-birth sound-alike to Denzel Washington) ” Wow. That is deep analytical stuff! Bravo.

amanda on October 22, 2011 at 10:34 am

Reading the comments at the very top only reaffirms my belief that we do need a reconstruction of the educational system that was proposed in the movie. It’s a sad day when the only way to win is to brain wash people “back” into thinking learning is the most important thing in life.

P.s. Tenure needs to be destroyed. F all this red tape and lazy money.
I LOL at the thought of people getting mad at me saying this.

Sound_Water on September 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field