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Waiting for SUPERMAN: A Participant Media Guide

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  972 ratings  ·  155 reviews
Each book includes a $15 gift card from to give to a classroom in need.
The American public school system is in crisis, failing millions of students, producing as many drop-outs as graduates, and threatening our economic future. By 2020, the United States will have 123 million high-skill jobs to fill—and fewer than 50 million Americans qualified to fill
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by PublicAffairs (first published 2010)
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3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  972 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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Feb 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A collection of essays by different people with the central theme that teachers and teachers' unions are killing education. So let me get this straight, suppose we don't allow teachers to form unions and we get rid of the "bad" teachers. Schools are going to hire lots of "good" teachers and pay them lots of money so that many more "good" teachers will want to join up? Good luck with that one. Schools in my experiences have always hired the youngest and cheapest teachers. The young ones are also ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Disappointment given the hype of the movie (which I plan to see). It offers a limited perspective and it seems as if it exists solely to endorse charter schools rather than examine solutions for public school systems. The conclusions of some of the experts are not earth-shattering revelations. Bad teachers are bad because they lower student performance. Good teachers are great. Statistics are cited, but some of the studies seem flawed, though you wouldn't know based on the content of the article ...more
Jan 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Ashley,Sarah, Rachel, Matthew
Parts were undocumented, purely personal opinion (think Michelle Rhee, especially) much of it was spot on. I especially enjoyed the essays by Randi Weingarten and Jay Mathews. What impressed me most was the congruence of different authors' lists of what needs to be done to fix education, or more specifically, what makes a great school and great teachers. I find Davis Guggenheim, Michelle Rhee, and the Gateses, Bill and Melinda, seriously lacking in their knowledge of and understanding of what ma ...more
Virginia Jacobs
Apr 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Don't bother reading this. It's not so much that it's a bad book; it's just that it's nothing I didn't already know. The book talks about, basically, that money is not the solution to education; good teachers are the solution. It also talks about how kids that are from disadvantaged areas need a longer school day to catch up, but, as an educator friend of mine pointed out, the book didn't discuss how the teachers were paid, etc. for the extra time this required of them.

I don't know any teachers
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Waiting for Superman is yet another book written about our failing schools. Although this book was published in 2010, there has been no real change with the problems in our educational system. The United States spends the more money per capita for education than any other country in the world, yet outcomes continue to fail. The book evaluates poor inner city schools, although not discussed the same problems are also evident in the poor rural areas. One contributor said it is thought that poor ne ...more
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
An empowering call to action.
Dec 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is basically a collection of essays from various people who, I am assuming, were in the film. I opted not to see the movie and choose to read this because I thought this would be more comprehensive and less maudlin. I do have to admit however, that I feel like I am missing things in the conversation, so I will probably end up watching the movie anyway. I am hoping its still in the theaters.

The Organization For Economic Co-operation and Development recently came out with its ranking in Read
Merritt O'Boyle
Apr 23, 2014 rated it liked it
I picked this book up directly after finishing the enlightening book about our school systems by Diane Ravitch.

To preface, I did see the movie by the same name many months before reading this. While I didn't remember all the details, I could recall that the movie came off rather one-sided (anti-union, pro-charter) so was pleasantly surprised that the book offered various viewpoints and struck me as more balanced than the film. Expecting a novel-esque version of the film, I found instead a colle
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
I haven't seen the documentary that this book is a companion to, so that may explain some of my opinions of the book. I don't think this book is meant to be read in isolation of the documentary, so keep that in mind if you're considering picking it up. From what I gather, the documentary focuses on five kids' stories as a way of giving the story a human element; the book is just a collection of short essays by various people on different educational reform topics.

The most disappointing thing abo
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
You may want to skip past that diatribe of how hard this guy worked on Algore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth"

After you get by the first 50+ pages it's actually a good book.

Feasable solutions for our shambled school system? I don't think so. Definitely some great ideas, at the very least you'll get yourself thinking through the problem and how Americans will eventually address it.

Not that I mean to be the "community organizer" but I do agree with the point that a successful school system needs
Joy Kim
Oct 15, 2010 rated it liked it
basically in a nutshell it says:
american education is falling behind the rest of world. oh no. why
arent these darn minorities graduating?! i know. NCLB will get these
kids to try harder. they need to speak english dangit. and fast. so
let's give them the CAHSEE. another test to fail, and increase high
school dropouts. education needs reform. wow. that's a new concept. so
let's fire old teachers but let's still keep the quality somehow. if
we just replace all the bad ones, our schools will be fine. w
Kyle Joseph
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Waiting for "Superman" does not have every answer to America's problem revolving around educational reform, but it does offer a lot of insight from educators and professionals that have witnessed amazing strides from schools and students that were sunk down in the mud with "unteachable" prejudices. This book, or rather participation guide to the documentary (which I have yet to see) offers a lot of essays and discussion about how we should go about fixing the problems we see in American schools. ...more
Ana Mardoll
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Waiting for "Superman" / 978-1-586-48928-1

I haven't yet seen the documentary that this book is a companion text to; although it was recommended highly to me, I missed it in theaters and it hasn't come available to rent yet. Still, I was curious enough about the documentary and knew just enough to be dangerous about the subject material, so I bought this companion text and plowed right in.

Results are...mixed. This book is basically a compilation of essays from different people on the subject of A
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
UGH what a frustrating book to read. Ok so I was not as strung out as I thought I would be. I saw all the uber liberal contributors and thought there was no way I would be able to get through this. Emotion without common sense attached to it makes me crazy so I was pleasantly surpised and appreciative of the acknowledgement that just tugging at heart strings was not going to be enough. I agreed with a good bit of it and then some of it made me want to throw the book across the room. At the end n ...more
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
The need to reform public education so that graduates are capable of becoming a productive workforce--whether they will be working at McDonald's or running for the presidency or anywhere in between--has been around for as long as public education itself.

Of course. Behind this incredible enterprise--collectively sharing in the cost and responsibility of preparing our children to become dynamic players in a dynamic world--must be visionary people who see the big picture for what it is and design
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a decent book to get an overview of education problems in this country. There were some eye-opening moments, but most of it, I've heard before. It's very truly a "companion" book to the film, a short introduction to a subject of study, but actually ended up frustrating me somewhat. It says that the idea of the book/film is to not show how impossible everything is, but rather that there ARE people making strides in fixing problems. I don't really feel that they accomplished their goal; I ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The fate of our country won't be decided on a battlefield, it will be determined in a classroom." The book Waiting for “Superman”, edited by Karl Weber, talks about the problems presented in nowadays America’s public education system and how can we save them.

The book starts with several statistics. Right now in America, there are about 7000 students drop out of school everyday, and 1.3 million every year; barely half of African-American and Latino students graduate from high school; in 1970, th
Chunyang Ding
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I never seemed to have the time or patience to sit down and watch the documentary, but I had heard so much about this that I couldn't let the opportunity slide by. So in true style, I think I just sat down and devoured this book in roughly 2 or so hours.

As someone who advocates for education quite strongly, I very much appreciated both the premise of the documentary as well as the essays in this Media Guide/Book. Each of the discussions, coming from very varied perspectives, was remarkably insig
Dec 22, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Like others have pointed out, this was pretty lacking in sources. The first chapter is a long list of all the ways our schools suck, complete with statistics, but not a single citation.

I went into this book expecting to hate it. The movie was lacking and I'm opposed to charter schools as a band aid solution. I think they do more harm than good. So I think with that mindset, the fact that I have it three stars is pretty good. I was mildly impressed that among the piles of pro-charter essays, the
Mar 13, 2011 marked it as to-read
In Pennsylvania, 68% of state prison inmates are high school dropouts. The state spends $33,000 a year on each prisoner, and the total cost of the average prison term is $132,000. By contrast, the average private school costs $8,300 per student per year. So for the same amount, Pennsylvania could have sent a prison inmate to a private school from kindergarten through twelfth grade--and still had more than $24,000 left for college.

Fifty years ago, only 20% of high school graduates expected to go
Oct 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Where do I begin? The book says our schools are failing because of a combination of factors, including but not limited to the teacher unions, complacency by everyone, not enough money, no direction or solid curriculum in a world where our kids need to compete with technology and critical thinking skills at the forefront, and no real competition among schools to force them to improve. (THink the USPS until Fedex came along). This is where charter schools can be useful, though the book does acknow ...more
This book should be mandatory reading for every tax payer, teacher, university student studying to become a teacher, parent, mentor, guardian, participant in the juvenile justice system, and many more if I go on. Our educational system is in a state of crisis and it can be fixed. It is a fairly easy fix if one applies common sense, wisdom, and looks careful at the results of the studies this amazing book shares.

Look around you. Look at the caliber of graduates from the school system that are ser
Nov 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nook-ereads

“The sense of hopelessness induces a kind of indifference.”—page 33

“Education is ground zero for solving societies problems.”—page 42

“Regardless of their plans, all of the nation’s young people need high-level knowledge and skills to achieve success in a rapidly changing world of technological advances and international competition.”—page 159

I had hoped to be more hopeful after reading ‘Waiting for SUPERMAN’ but I think I am only more despondent. While I could wish a pox u
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Robyn by: Gusterbrown
Shelves: informational
i definitely had much higher expectations than this book provided. i thought it would actually be filled with ways to create a better classroom environment, a better community environment, a better something!

however, as i'm reading through these people's essays, i'm stuck on the fact that all of these essays are written by people who've never stepped inside a classroom as an actual teacher with a degree in teaching and experience with kids... so who cares? it's like the president telling me how
Dec 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: anthologies
I read this companion to the documentary without having seen the documentary, so I can't speak to how well it informs on or complements it, but I can say it is an interesting and informative look at the problem of public schools in the United States (their quality or lack thereof and the inherent problems in trying to improve them). All of the essays pretty much say the same thing: everything up until now hasn't worked, so we have to try radically new things to improve the situation and we have ...more
Craig Childs
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays was marketed as a "companion" book to the 2010 film documentary of the same name. Both the movie and the book discussed the problems faced by America's public schools, and also the progress that has been made in underserved urban areas by a few high-performing charter schools. The book was better than the film, as it addressed the issues in greater length and went into more detail.

The first 50 pages of the book serve as a de facto advertisement for the movie. If you've
Jonna Higgins-Freese
It was less interesting than I'd hoped, or been led to expect from all the hype. I was most surprised to learn about the importance of effective teachers. The most effective teachers create gains of 1.5 grade levels in their students, compared to the least effective who get .5 grade levels/year gain. So while family income levels are the best predictors of student achievement under the current system, poor kids with four straight years of the best teachers would still make great progress. Of cou ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it
You have to see the irony in that I was waiting for a documentary on saving America's schools and I got the book! So, I'm back on the list for the movie, but I'm glad I read the book as it is a supplement to the documentary. The documentary will focus more on the kids and the book focuses on several different educational philosophies. The book makes great points, but I think the solutions are one sided as most of the solutions focus on charter schools. The book fails to mention that one of these ...more
Scott Rhee
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
I'm having a hard time with this one. Maybe it's because I didn't see the movie yet. I plan to, although everything I have heard about the film is making me already not like it. Reading this book isn't helping either. Rumor has it that the film is very pro-charter schools and very anti-union. I happen to be kind of pro-teacher's union and my experience with charter schools isn't wonderful. Statistically, too, charter schools have demonstrated little to no difference in terms of improving educati ...more
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Karl Weber, president of Karl Weber Literary, is a writer, editor, and book developer with over twenty-five years' experience in the book publishing industry. He is an expert in general-interest non-fiction publishing, specializing in topics from business and personal finance to politics, current affairs, history, autobiography, self-help, and personal development.

Weber's recent projects include t