Incompetence of Teachers Portrayed in “Waiting for Superman”

Incompetenceof Teachers Portrayed in “Waiting for Superman”

Thepowerful and alarming documentary entitled, &quotWaitingfor Super Man&quotregards the failing public education system. Research has termed it acall to all the people of America to arms themselves concerning thesocial issues that are contributing to the fall of education in thesociety. The documentary covers the concept of teaching from thegrass root to products and significance in the community. The filminvolves two main characters symbolically placed to question theefficiency of the America’s public school system. Mr. Canada, aninspiring and charismatic educator, is defined in the documentary asa relative to ‘Superman’. He has been able to establish an entire97 block of a charter school, which supports efficient learning(Powel 31). The 97 block is stated to be very successful in gettingstudents through high school and into college. Ms. Rhee is one of thebest superintendents in Washington DC public school system. She isbravely fighting for better teaching and school efficiency in studentgrowth. Among the social issues affecting education in thisdocumentary include the unfortunate incompetence that a highpercentage of teachers exhibit. One would argue that incompetence ofteachers is a major issue that is affecting the public educationsystem in the U.S. As portrayed by the film, teacher’s incompetenceand lack of practicing professional ethics is a major cause of thedrag of education in America. Therefore, this paper presents aresearch on incompetence of teachers portrayed in the film “Waitingfor Superman.”

Thelack of money is not the problem contributing to the incompetence ofteachers. Despite the social state of poverty that different regionshave shown, the documentary points out that an inmate spends doublethe amount that a student would have in a year (Guggenheim).This indicates that the government is more than able to facilitatethe learning and maintenance of students both in and out of school.Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone has been cited toreceive most of its funding from privately owned sources. Regardlessof the film showing that education crisis is more of a systematicthan resource issue, it is important to address the money problemsince statistics have equally shown that few homes in the U.S canafford private education for their students. For instance, in supportof the claim the documentary makes that money is not the problem,Holden (18) argues that schools receive sufficient funding.Therefore, it is not possible to argue that the incompetence ofteachers is as a result insufficient funding.

Thestandardized testing should be adopted as a good way of evaluatingthe student’s progress. The issue of students failing in theiracademic performance should be examined as far as the public schoolsystem is concerned. Rather than assessing the performance of astudent in Academic matters, standardized testing should equally beused to test the competence of teachers, especially when tenure isinvolved. Most teachers after receiving tenure hide under the Union’sumbrella. They may fail to teach or even attend classes thiscontributes to the little academic attention paid to students leadingto weak results. The documentary covers standardized testing as ameasure of how the students work hard. However, incompetent teachersare left unmasked and in office. Such teachers as members of theUnion have a comfort zone leaving the students to fail in academics.Given that there are little spaces in charter schools, Powell (26)suggest that the rate of drop out students is on the rise.Nevertheless, the contentious question regards whether this is thestudent’s fault or not. The incompetence and mismanagement of theteaching staff are very delicate and vital concerns in the life of astudent present and future.

TheUnions are the Problem. Apart from being accountable, the unions areexpected to be transparent, patriotic, and democratic for thedevelopment of education in the society. One cannot overlook theimportance and role that the Unions have played in the sector acrossthe world. During the early years, the differences between the payoffered to men and women stirred a considerable level ofmisunderstanding. Teachers would be hired and fired, raised from oneclass level and dropped from the other. The Unions offered teachersunity and the capacity to stand together. Irrespective of the countryand region, it is undeniable that unions have facilitated vigorousand rigid education foundations. Students all over the world havebeen able to benefit from the unions either directly or indirectly.However, unions may protect incompetent teachers from the wrath oftheir employer to be fired, or tenure is withdrawn. One would arguethat for education to develop, unions need to be decisive andflexible to accommodate the mode of conduct that teachers assume(Holden 21).

Theteaching problems may also be the reason for the incompetence ofteachers. Some teaching programs and the effect of direct entry intothe educational practice have left the U.S public education systeminadequate in quality. The documentary regards the present teachingeducation as baseless and ineffective. Finland, which is the countrywith highest achieving students, has the best-educated teachersaround the globe. Research has shown that following the 1970 reform,every teacher above kindergarten level in Finland was expected tohold a Master’s degree. As a result, Finland hosts students withthe highest literacy levels in math as well as science. The UnitedStates is known to rank 25th in Math in addition 21st in Science.Teacher education is, therefore, a significant factor affecting thepublic school system in the U.S. Quality teacher education fostersprofessionalism and competence in the teaching industry. With enoughqualified teachers, the quality of education will be improved andfocus placed on students leading to an enhancement of system.

Thepresence of tenure may also be perceived as a major factor causingthe drag in the public education system. Teachers holding securetenure cannot be fired instantly without due process. An outcome isthe countless number of teachers holding tenure because of otherpositions in the society other than education. Moreover, a systematicreview of the employment of teachers has shown that in the case of aunion-reviewed peer process, most teachers are either retained ordismissed (Holden 21). The held tenure shows the teachers profounddesire to remain stagnant without growth. Similarly, one would arguethat tenure gives the teacher a platform to practiceunprofessionalism, which eventually drags the education system in thesociety. Education is the future of the community. Without education,the society is doomed to lag behind in every aspect that mattersregarding the future.

Inconclusion, &quotWaitingfor Superman&quotis a powerful documentary reflecting on the social issues that affectAmerica’s education system. This research focused on incompetenceof teachers as portrayed in the documentary. The narrators focus onevery section that makes up the system (Union, Teachers, Students andthe Society), giving a clear view of the status and the currentreflex that the society has developed. The documentary has not onlyshown the gaps in the education system but also provided an in-depthfocus on the issue of incompetence and its impact on the educationsystem. Every student has a desire to pursue an education at length.With sufficient support from the teachers, every student is more thancapable of fulfilling his/her dreams. It is, therefore, the teacher’sduty to take the academic life of the student serious and improve thesystem.


Guggenheim,Davis. Waitingfor Superman.Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Perf. Geoffrey Canada. 2010.

Holden, Stephen. Students Caught in the School Squeeze. New York: The New York Times, 2010. Print.

Powel, Christy Wessel. School Education and Social Action at the Movies. Barmington: Columbia University, 2014.Print.