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“Waiting for Superman” Has the Power to Bend Space and Time (and Facts)

“Waiting for Superman” has already been roundly criticized for its one-sided perspective of charters and teachers unions from observers as diverse as Diane Ravitch and Rick Hess. The latest challenge to the legitimacy of the simplistic story it tells are those who have discovered that director Davis Guggenheim manipulated the timeline of footage shown in the movie in order to serve his story.

As a recent New York Times article pointed out, the movie suggests that a mother shown on a tour of a charter in New York City was still waiting to find out if her child had been admitted to the school. In fact, Guggenheim had deliberately brought the mother to the school to film her reaction to it after the school’s lottery was over, a fact which is never mentioned in the finished film. As one expert on documentary films told the Times, “altering chronology when it fundamentally alters the interpretation of what happened, that’s when you get an ethical breach.”