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'Waiting for Superman' Fuels Parents' Furor at Broken Schools, Union

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NYPost: It's class warfare!


Fed-up parents and teachers who saw the explosive education documentary "Waiting for 'Superman' " yesterday were left either seething or in tears -- and calling for revolutionary change after the film's Big Apple debut.

"The passing along of children through the system is just disgusting," said Barbara Levinson, 63, who was crying by the film's end. "Every child should be treated as an individual."

Viewers were also rocked by the work's portrayal of the teachers unions' protection of subpar educators.

"The laws as they stand can protect ineffective teachers who are bad -- I'm disappointed in what the union's become," said Patricia Jordan, who won state teacher of the year in 1993.

"Effective and wonderful teachers are stifled by the ones who are problematic and hard to get rid of," she fumed.

The movie, from directors of "An Inconvenient Truth," takes aim at teacher tenure and "rubber rooms" for teachers facing disciplinary action. It profiles five kids who enter charter-school lotteries.

One parent, from Harlem, is struggling to pay for Catholic school for her daughter Bianca, and another, from The Bronx, is fighting to keep her son Francisco on track in public school.

"I'm almost speechless with horror and disgust," said viewer Rita Callahan, who works for Con Ed. "I'm embarrassed to be an American. I can't believe what we let happen."

Hordes crammed into the two theaters showing the flick yesterday, its first day in release in New York. By noon, the 7:30 p.m. showing at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square, which holds 355 people, was sold out. Crowds also flocked to the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Houston Street.

"I'm overwhelmed, disappointed," said Carlos Terrazas, who works for Northwestern University. "You knew that education was a problem, but you think if you threw money at the situation, it would be solved."

Another viewer called the film "eye-opening."

"There is definitely a call for action," said Alex Bergson, 23, of the West Village. "The union leadership seemed a little bit to blame with their stubbornness to change."

Tasha Woodson, 39, of Manhattan, whose daughter is a first-grader in a public school, said: "This movie shows that teachers do play an important role in students' lives."

Tucker Hyde, a veteran public school teacher, said he agreed "tenure needs to be looked at and re-evaluated."

Parent Renee Coper, whose son attends Hudson Cliff Elementary School 187 in Washington Heights, said the film was unsettling.

"I now understand why there are so many of my son's teachers who aren't productive and will never get fired," she said. "It's disturbing."

The mother of Bianca, one of the students in the film, beamed with pride at seeing the child on the big screen..

"yo twitter fam go check out my lil babygirl movie come out on friday waiting for super man," she tweeted.

Many educators and union representatives are panning the film, saying it misses the realities of the classroom.

"We don't like 'Waiting for Superman' because we feel it stereotypes union teachers, said Arthur Goldstein, 55, a teacher at Francis Lewis HS in Queens and a United Federation of Teachers chapter leader.

"Charter schools are not magic. There is no magic."

The city Department of Education touted the documentary in a weekly e-mail sent to parents and Schools Chancellor Joe Klein encouraged people to "go see" the "terrific film."

Read more stories in the news.

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