'Waiting for Superman' sparks protests from teachers union

SACRAMENTO — A documentary aiming to inspire Americans to address issues in public education has also created a bitter dispute between those who call themselves education reformers and many teachers and their union representatives.

Protests have erupted across the country at theaters showing the movie "Waiting for 'Superman.' " Members of the Sacramento City Teachers Association are planning a protest at Century Theatres on Ethan Way when the movie opens to the public Friday.

A group of 15 SCTA teachers protested outside a private screening over the weekend.

"There is a push back brewing," said Lori Jablonski, an SCTA representative.

"Waiting for 'Superman' " profiles the journey of five kids in cities across the country who are attempting to get into charter schools. Those families feel their child's future depends on their acceptance into a charter school.

While many teachers say the movie is anti-union, Jim Berk of Participant Media said that's not the case.

"This film is designed to celebrate good teachers," said Berk, whose company produced the film. "It's not a union issue, but a structure issue."

However, issues with unions are raised in the movie and were also a part of a one-hour panel discussion that followed a private screening of the documentary in Sacramento on Tuesday.

"The most powerful defenders of the broken system, without question, is the teachers union," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "This is coming from a guy who is an unabashedly progressive Democrat."

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