Documentary Gives U.S. Schools a Failing Grade

One movie coming out this fall is creating a lot of buzz among anyone who cares about education.

The new documentary, "Waiting for 'Superman,'" has a point of view - and doesn't hold back.

"You wake up every morning and you know kids are getting a really crappy education right now," said DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. "I don't think they are. I know they are."

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CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports the film is a harsh and unflattering look at the state of public education in America. It follows five schoolchildren - desperate to transfer to better schools. But with limited openings, their futures depend on luck.

It could be the most talked about documentary since "An Inconvenient Truth," perhaps because they share the same director, Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim.

"Experts will say the movie is pro- this, or anti- this but parents will say, I just want my kid to go to a great school," Guggenheim said.

In an interview for @katiecouric, Guggenheim said he hopes his film will provoke action.

"That's what this movie is - a wake up call," Guggenheim said. "It's not working for every kid."

Guggenheim features Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone, who's shown it's possible to create great schools even in poor neighborhoods. This week, the Department of Education announced grants to replicate his success in twenty more cities.

"We can actually fix this," Canada said.

But critics of the movie, like Harlem principal Barbara Freeman, say it unfairly targets public schools, their teachers and unions.

"I thought it was a little slanted. I think there are a lot of great public schools with great teachers, great administrators and great families," Freeman said.

None of the educators we spoke with today thought that the status quo was working. They agreed on what's at stake - helping kids to realize their dreams.

Watch Michelle Miller's Video Below

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.