Amanda Ripley

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New-School Hollywood

10th Sep 2010 posted in Education

I have a cover story out in this week’s Time Magazine about the new film by the director of An Inconvenient Truth. This new movie, Waiting for “Superman,” which won the audience award for U.S. documentaries at Sundance earlier this year, tells the story of five kids trying to get into better schools—in DC, NY, LA and Silicon Valley. The filmmakers leverage all the tools of movie-making to tell a story that is as complex as it is powerful.

In the story, we use this film as an excuse to talk about where we are at this moment in the history of America’s long, tedious battle to fix its schools. Are we turning the corner at last? Almost everyone I asked said “yes,” but it was equally clear that the revolution has only just begun.

For decades, Hollywood has churned out movies about lone teachers saving poor kids (Think Stand and Deliver or, oh lord, Dangerous Minds). This year, we have not one but at least three films coming out about poor kids and their families trying to save themselves. (Another documentary, The Lottery, follows a similar trajectory as Superman, but takes place entirely in New York City.)

Meanwhile, journalism is also trying to save itself. So you can’t see my entire story online, unfortunately. Time has started putting large magazine stories behind a firewall, so you have to actually buy the magazine (!!) at the store, buy it on an iPad, wait until it goes online for free in a few weeks—or wait until you go to the doctor’s office in 6 months and read it in the waiting room. If you do see it, please let me know what you think.