A Superwoman for Kenya, but America is still waiting for Superman – Roger Ebert’s Journal

by Scott Smith

A Superwoman for Kenya, but America
is still waiting for Superman

By

Roger Ebert

on January 24, 2010 4:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (33)

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Sometimes two films set up an uncanny resonance with one another. I saw two documentaries back to back. One filled me with hope and the other washed me in despair. They were both about the education of primary school children.

“A Small Act” centers on the life story of Chris Mburu, who as a small boy living in a mud house in a Kenyan village had his primary and secondary education paid for by a Swedish woman. This cost her $15 a month. They had never met. He went on to the University of Nairobi, graduated from Harvard Law School, and is today a United Nations Human Rights Commissioner.

“Waiting for Superman” studies the failing American educational system. Oh, yes, it is failing. We spend more money per student than any other nation in the world, but the test scores of our students have fallen from near the top to near the bottom among developed nations. Our scientific and medical institutions employ so many Asians for a clear reason: They must be recruited. There are not enough qualified American students.

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