Still Waiting for Superman

Dave Eggers and Matt Damon’s American Teacher is almost as flawed as last year’s big school reform movie.

Dana Goldstein

What is it with documentaries offering silver bullet solutions for the woes of the American public education system?

Last September, the big school reform movie was Waiting for Superman, which posited that the proliferation of nonunionized charter schools could close the achievement gap between poor and middle-class students—even though research shows that nationally, only 17 percent of charters are consistently better than traditional public schools at raising students’ math and reading scores.

This fall, there’s another school reform film making the rounds: American Teacher, which opens in New York and Los Angeles Friday and is screening sporadically at festivals, college campuses, and community centers across the country. The documentary argues that paying teachers more—say, $125,000 annually—would, by attracting more talented college graduates to the classroom and encouraging them to stay there, be the single best way to better prepare American students for the global economy.

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124002451 NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 07: Actor Matt Damon attends the ‘Contagion’ premiere at the Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center on September 7, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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