The critically acclaimed 2010 documentary film Waiting for “Superman” depicts American public education as a fundamentally flawed system and argues that privately managed charter schools are the best solution to our country’s education crisis. This essay argues that Waiting for “Superman” is significant because of how successfully its argument for charter schools appealed to a broad and politically diverse audience. After tracing the rhetoric of contemporary pro-privatization education reform from the Reagan administration’s 1983 A Nation at Risk report to current pro-charter-school reform efforts, this article aims to demonstrate how the film’s populist overtones, packaged in a traditionally liberal medium, work to strategically conceal the filmmaker’s neoliberal agenda.

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