Educational Superfreaks

Waiting for ‘Superman’
A documentary about our troubled educational system and the need for reform; Directed by Davis Guggenheim
 
Freakonomics
A documentary applying economic theories to seemingly uneconomic human behaviors and societal issues; Directed by Alex Gibney, et al.
 
Jackass 3D
A documentary about being radically gross and stupid; Directed by Jeff Tremaine
 


After watching each of these documentary films, you will be asked to take the following test before you can leave the theater and progress to the next grade level of film watching:

Question 1: Waiting for ‘Superman’ is really about:
A. Allaying the director’s guilt for sending his kids to private schools by heaping scorn on the failing state of most public schools and how one parent cannot hope to change the ills of the public school system and so it is ok to just send your kids to private schools.
B. Allaying the director’s guilt for getting his kids into private schools by showing the outrageous process that other kids — overwhelmingly poor, non-whites — must face to get into these same private schools, such as a cold-hearted and unfair lottery system where only a couple of slots are open for hundreds of applicants.  
C. Allowing the director to safely blast other schools by never showing anything about the very private schools where the director has placed his own kids so as not to ruffle any feathers of the schools that are teaching his own kids.
D. The inability of parents to effectively do anything about the quality of schools that end up teaching their kids and instead are subject to the political whims and egos of those in charge.
E. All of the above.
F. None of the above.
 
Question 2: Of the list below, select the best option that the creators of the film Freakonomics would use to describe the film Waiting for ‘Superman’ and its message about our failing schools if Waiting for ‘Superman’ were a segment like all the other segments in the film Freakonomics:
A. Well yeah, no duh!
B. Those dastards! That whole film Waiting for ‘Superman’ copied from our paper by suggesting that economic methods — like lotteries and monetary incentives — don’t seem to motivate our kids to learn or fix our troubled schools!
C. Snappy animation + photogenic kids = cries for reform.
D. One word: Freak-o-schools!
E. All of the above.
F. None of the above.
 

Above, a scene from the documentary Waiting for ‘Superman’ about our troubled educational system and the need for reform.

Question 3: From the list below, please select the best way to complete this sentence: “If we do not expeditiously fix our nation’s schools, our kids will end up:
A. Locked in a Port-A-Potty dangling from a bungee cord as it is pushed from a bridge.”
B. Sitting in a tree while it is being chain sawed.”
C. Playing tetherball pantless with a beehive as the ball.”
D. Getting into a bull fighting ring dressed in camouflage and hoping that the bull will not see them.”
E. Putting an apple in their anus and coaxing a pig to retrieve it.”
F. Tying one end of a string to their tooth and the other to a Lamborghini, and then having someone in the car step on the gas.”
G. A star of the film Jackass 3D.”
H. All of the above.
I. None of the above.

Question 4: Connect the item related to our nation’s educational system in the column on the left (A - F) to the description in the column on the right (1 - 6) that bests describes that item as suggested in the film Waiting for ‘Superman’:
 
A. Teacher Tenure 1. Something that leads to the end of civilization as we know it.
B. Teachers Unions 2. Something that leads to the end of civilization as we know it.
C. Public schools 3. Something that leads to the end of civilization as we know it.
D. Charter schools 4. Something that leads to the end of civilization as we know it.
E. School Governance 5. Something that leads to the end of civilization as we know it.
F. Elected Officials 6. Something that leads to the end of civilization as we know it.

Question 5: Essay question: What does “Superman” represent in the film Waiting for ‘Superman’? (Hint: it involves the need for superpowers to actually fix our failing educational system.) Please use the sheets of paper provided.
 
Question 6: Match the influence variable in the column on the left (A–F) to the phenomenon in the column on the right (1–6) as described and depicted in the film Freakonomics:

A. Skewed Incentives 1. Crime and Abortion
B. Simplistic Explanations 2. A Person’s Name
C. Greedy Humans 3. Bribing Students to Raise their Grades
D. Hiding Corruption 4. Sumo Wrestling
E. Rigging the System 5. Student Grade Inflation
F. Unknown 6. Complex Societal Ills 

Question 7: Math story problem: If there are 25 openings for acceptance to a charter school and there are 23,456 potential students (including prospective student X) seeking those 25 openings (per Waiting for ‘Superman’), and prospective student X is offered $100 if student X can move from a D+ to a C- in algebra (per Freakonomics), and student X spends 6 and ½ hours watching Jackass movies, how many students will end up being homeschooled? Please show your work.
 
Question 8: Based on watching Waiting for ‘Superman’, Freakonomics, and Jackass 3D, the voters of Colorado should:
 
A. Vote against ballot Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 as our educational system is in dire need of financial help.
B. Vote for ballot Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 as it is clear that our current system is seriously flawed and needs to be defunded, privatized and restructured from the ground up.
C. Require that all voters — especially those that attended public schools or really enjoyed Jackass 3D — take a literacy test before they can vote.
D. Invest all school funding in the stock market to generate the huge amount of funds needed to give our kids a quality education.
E. All of the above.
F. None of the above.

(Answers: There are no right or wrong answers; it all depends on what you want our kids to learn, what you think is wrong, what you think will actually work to fix things, what your political beliefs are, whether you think we can actually fix things, and who gets to decide these things. But one thing is clear — no matter what you think ought to be done, it will be costly and controversial. And if we do nothing, get ready for Jackass 4D!)