Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

We Can’t Afford to Wait for Superman

In his New York Times column today, Tom Friedman takes note of a documentary on education reform hitting theaters this fall. Waiting for Superman is the name of the film, and it comes from the Academy Award-winning director of An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim. A taste of Friedman’s column:

There is a movement stirring in this country around education. From the explosion of new charter schools to the new teachers’ union contract in D.C., which will richly reward public school teachers who get their students to improve faster and weed out those who don’t, Americans are finally taking their education crisis seriously. If you don’t want to stand on your head, then just go to a theater near you after Sept. 24 and watch the new documentary “Waiting for Superman.” You’ll see just what I’m talking about. …

It is intolerable that in America today a bouncing bingo ball should determine a kid’s educational future, especially when there are plenty of schools that work and even more that are getting better. This movie is about the people trying to change that. The film’s core thesis is that for too long our public school system was built to serve adults, not kids. For too long we underpaid and undervalued our teachers and compensated them instead by giving them union perks. Over decades, though, those perks accumulated to prevent reform in too many districts. The best ones are now reforming, and the worst are facing challenges from charters.

Guggenheim’s documentary is just the latest in a series of stinging looks at the way teachers unions have tried to stifle reforms across the country. Last month in the Weekly Standard, I looked at Waiting for Superman and a pair of other documentaries, The Lottery and The Cartel. It seems that public opinion is rapidly turning the obstructionist tactics of the teachers union.

Waiting for Superman doesn’t hit theaters nationwide until October, and, like many documentaries, it might have trouble finding a home in theaters, regardless of its impressive pedigree. If you’re interested in bringing the movie to your town, make sure to go to and “pledge” to see it. The more people who do so, the better chance the film will get wider distribution.

Categories: Teachers Unions