The AV Club’s Nathan Rabin interviews “Waiting for Superman” director Davis Guggenheim, and their discussion eventually turns to unions. Guggenheim adds some nuance to the position on teachers’ unions expressed in his film, but he continues to characterize unions as the “enemy.”
AV Club: How does it feel to have teachers’ unions attack the film?
Davis Guggenheim: It sucks. I mean, when you make An Inconvenient Truth, it’s not difficult to have your enemy be Exxon Mobil or the dirty coal company. In this case, I’m a Democrat, and I believe, I really believe in unions, I’m a member of a good union. So that was an uncomfortable truth for me to have to talk about, but I’ve tried to make a reasonable film. I don’t know where it’s written, but somehow it’s written that you can’t criticize the unions. Otherwise, you hate teachers.
Guggenheim also touts the Green Dot model, though he failed to mention the successful, and unionized, Green Dot New York in his film. Edwize contributor Jonathan Gyurko recently wrote in the Huffington Post that while Guggenheim had plenty of footage of that school, he left it on the cutting room floor.
DG: I love the Steve Barr model. [Barr is a charter-school organizer in Los Angeles, featured in Waiting For Superman. —ed.] He’s got what they call “thin contracts.” Every great revolution swings to the wrong direction, and I’m sure you’re going to find these teachers in these high-performing charters that burn out. I have no problem with those teachers being unionized and making sure that they’re being paid properly, and that they’re not taken advantage of.