The Not-So Caped Crusaders

Millions of eyes will be on ABC this afternoon as FaceBook creator Mark Zuckerberg hands over the equivalent to the gross national product of a small country to New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Newark mayor Cory Booker on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Zuckerberg has pledged to donate $100,000,000 to the city of Newark public school system because he has been inspired by Booker’s focus on education reform. While many people are applauding his act of humanity, there are detractors that believe the move was calculated to remove the sting from the upcoming movie The Social Network, a film about the rise to his billions through his creation of FaceBook.

On the other side critics are weighing in on his decision to give the money to Newark, a district the state has controlled since the mid-90’s, a district that has a near 50% dropout rate and less than a quarter of graduates go on to a four-year university. The truth is, Zuckerberg’s donation raises alarm about the crisis in the Newark school system and may cause others to examine the districts in their surrounding areas and widespread reform may actually take place. Besides, what’s $100 million to a 26-year-old that’s estimated to be worth $6.9 billion?

Zuckerberg had perfect timing in another sense because today a film hits theaters that may change America’s view on education. David Guggenheim’s latest documentary Waiting for ’‘Superman’’ explores the dire state of public education in the United States through the lives of five families on both coasts in their quests for a quality education for the five children at the heart of the film. Guggenheim, who opened many eyes with his award-winning An Inconvenient Truth, sets out to do the same by taking his microscope to the country’s crumbling education system. He delves into mismanagement of funds, the power that teachers unions wield to stifle effective change, the unsettling truth about standardized tests and the apathy that runs through parents, teachers, administrators, students, our communities and the media.

Geoffrey Canada of Harlem’s Children Zone has received a great deal of publicity this year as he plays a prominent role in the film as one of his schools is at the hope for one of the students followed among hundreds entered into a lottery for 40 spots. It’s the sad truth of where we are today, apathy and anti-intellectualism directly affecting those we trust to continue the American dream in the face of a nightmarish situation in classrooms across the country. One movie isn’t going to change things, but if it can spark the minds that lead to the fire that burns down our current way of educating, I’ll strike a match…

Waiting for “Superman” opens today in limited release, see the trailer below:

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