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When it comes to the challenges facing schools today, not everyone is waiting for Superman, according to a film that about 50 Utahns gathered to watch Thursday night.
The movie "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman," which rebuts the recent documentary "Waiting for 'Superman, ' " kicked off a two-day event meant to push for changes to policies organizers believe hurt struggling schools. The Utah event is one of a number of Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action events going on around the country this week.
"I was enraged by the representations in 'Waiting for Superman,' " said Doni Faber, an event organizer who is a tutor for Valley Mental Health and a former public school teacher. "I felt people really do care about education, but if that's all they're hearing, they're going to have the wrong idea."
The original documentary, "Waiting for 'Superman,' " followed students hoping to attend charter schools and criticized teacher tenure, teacher unions and the traditional public school system for failing to keep up with modern demands.
The film shown Thursday, however, challenged those ideas through data and interviews with New York City teachers and parents who said teacher unions protect teachers and children; charter schools are not a silver bullet; and corporate reforms will not improve education. The movie, produced by a group called The Grassroots Education Movement, criticized charter schools as taking resources away from traditional public schools. Charter schools are independently run public schools.
After the film the audience, made up largely of teachers, discussed its merits.
"A lot of what we saw in this movie, it is happening in Utah in an insidious way," said Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah Education Association (UEA), which was not involved in organizing the event.
Several audience members said teacher unions advocate for improving education through class-size reduction and employing experienced teachers. Some also jabbed at Sen. Howard Stephenson,R-Draper, who plans to have the Education Interim Committee study eliminating collective bargaining for certain public employees.
But not everyone in the audience agreed with the film.
Miriam Bugden, who has worked as a long-term substitute teacher in the Granite District, said she didn't feel the film addressed the serious issues facing schools today.
"This sort of bashing of charter schools, to me, is a whole separate issue," Bugden said. "The issue we need to deal with as educators is how do we improve education."
Robin Hough, a board member of the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts charter school, said she worries unions are putting too much of an emphasis on charter schools as the enemy.
The Save Our Schools events continue Friday with speakers including Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, at 9:30 a.m. and a rally and march from1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Main Library.