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Back in January, Variety called Davis Guggenheim’s documentary “Waiting for Superman” as a “kind of high minded thriller” — exposing the faulty education system and proposing solutions, but also identifying that is standing in the way. Teachers unions, and in particular Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, are blocking reform. In the many months sense, Weingarten and the union have been preparing for the film’s release this fall, knowing full well that the project is designed to do for education what “An Inconvenient Truth” did for the environment. (Guggenheim won the Oscar for directing Al Gore’s 2006 global warming warning call.)

New York magazine’s John Heilemann sets up the possibilities that “Superman” actually can change the tenor and direction of the debate, which is not an easy task when it comes to education because, as Guggenheim says, “It’s a storytelling quagmire.” Plenty of pics have tried to emulate “Truth,” but none have come close, probably due to a combination of he recession’s desire for escapism and mere cause fatigue. Paramount’s parent company, Viacom, even launched a multi-million dollar PSA campaign last year called “Get Schooled,” but even that has had a tough time getting through the media clutter.

But starting with a screening next week in Washington, the administration and education reformers expect “Waiting for Superman” to move the needle. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan tells Heilemann, “The movie is going to create a sense of outrage, and a sense of
urgency.”