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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hollywood generates buzz for a blockbuster reform?



Over the years, Hollywood has done its part to get the public fired up about education. Think Stand & Deliver, Mr. Holland's Opus, and that Oscar-winning classic, Goodbye Mr. Chips.

Still, you'd have to look long and hard to find a film on the nuts and bolts of education reform that registered on the public consciousness. Hard to see audiences shelling out $7 and popcorn for 90 minutes on graduation rates, right?

But that may be about to change, judging from the growing buzz around a new documentary, Waiting for 'Superman'.

 Directed by Davis Guggenheim, creator of the mega-doc An Inconvenient Truth, the film won the Audience Award for documentaries at this year's Sundance Festival. Judging from the trailer, it makes a similar, emotion-laden call to action; just substitute Al Gore for a classroom's-worth of ambitious kids, angry parents, lagging Pisa scores, and a star-studded cast of national ed reformers.

Michelle Rhee is there. ("You wake up every morning, and you know that kids are getting a really crappy education right now," the D.C. schools chief says in the trailer. ") So is Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone. Bill Gates makes a cameo, too, and he gave the film a plug in his 2010 annual letter on education. (Waiting for 'Superman' is scheduled for a limited release on Sept. 24.)

So what do you think? Does this film seem to be aiming at the right targets when it assails "dropout factories" and ineffective teachers, and applauds reforms aimed at raising student test scores? Or would you prefer a different cinematic angle? And hey, it's summer, so feel free to offer your own Top 10 list of best education movies.

-- Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 3:28pm]


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