Whatever Happened To ‘The Waiting For Superman’ Kids?

The PR of education reform focuses on the feel-good, beating the odds, stories about heroic teachers and and rock-star superintendents who never give up on their students.

There are the 106 original graduates of Chicago’s Urban Prep Charter school that Arne Duncan saved by shutting down the failing school that they would have attended if not for his policies.  There is the boy whose Memphis Teach For America teacher taught him rugby — his ticket to college which got the boy featured in an ESPN documentary and got the TFA teacher on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list.  And there are the four inner-city kids who were featured in ‘Waiting For Superman’ — Anthony Black, Daisy Esparza, Bianca Hill, and Francisco Regalado.  After ‘Waiting For Superman’ came out, they were even invited to The White House.

But what happens to these kids after they have served their purpose as PR pawns for education reformers?

For the most part, we don’t know.

Urban Prep had promised that they were going to publish their 6-year college graduation rate for that first class.  They were supposed to do that, but never did, to the best of my knowledge.  Recently one of the three Urban Prep campuses has been put on the school closure list in Chicago.  This, despite it also having a 100% college acceptance rate like the other campuses.

Maybe we don’t hear much about whatever happened to the kids saved by the heroic ed reformers because for some of them they turned out like the rugby player who helped vault his TFA teacher into the 30 under 30 list.

According to the article.

Young told the story of an MICR player who eventually enrolled in Tennessee State University. “He had no family, no support. He would never have gotten into college if we hadn’t helped with his application, his financial aid, gotten him a ride to Nashville.

A year later, we found him homeless in Memphis because of a stupid $100 student affairs fee he couldn’t pay. They wouldn’t let him register for any more classes. He didn’t know who to call. It was just a disaster.”

Of course there is a lot more to this story than the “stupid $100 student affairs fee he could not pay.”  But it doesn’t matter if the kid was saved by his TFA rugby coach or not.  All that matters is that it seemed that way for long enough to get the guy on the Forbes 30 under 30 list.

You’d think that Davis Guggenheim, the director of ‘Waiting For Superman’ would keep in touch with his subjects — see if they graduated high school — see how they’re doing.

My own private detective skills led me to find one of them, Daisy Esparza, on Twitter.  I tried to contact her, but didn’t get a response.  The other three, I wasn’t able to find anything.  Maybe they are on Instagram.  If anyone knows anything — six degrees of separation and all that — leave a comment.

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10 Responses to Whatever Happened To ‘The Waiting For Superman’ Kids?

  1. Stephen Ronan says:

    Following up on the co-star (along with the TFA chap) of the rugby documentary, Calvin Gentry
    4/18:
    “As the event progressed, the recurring theme was how rugby changed lives for the better. Calvin Gentry, an Arkansas State University student, says rugby saved his life. The MICR alumni was introduced to the sport while a student at Power Center Academy and was the recipient of a full athletic scholarship. He stated that he would not be in college had the sport not impacted his life.”

    “’Rugby changed my life; it made me a better man and a better person,’” Gentry said. “’It afforded opportunities for my family and I and introduced me to the world.’”
    https://tri-statedefender.com/game-changer-memphis-inner-city-rugby-winning-over-youth-while-winning-championships/04/02/

    Then, again, there may be a streak of wanton, merciless cruelty…
    9/18
    “JONESBORO – Tommy Montgomery scored five tries and Calvin Gentry added three to help lead Arkansas State University’s rugby team to a 109-0 victory over Ole Miss in A-State’s home opener Saturday afternoon at Curt Huckaby Field.”
    https://www.astate.edu/news/rugby-defeats-ole-miss-109-0-in-home-opener

    Poor Ole Miss 😉

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  3. Some stories here: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-urban-prep-grads-update-met-0722-20140825-story.html
    Note that Urban Prep changed the headline in their version –http://www.urbanprep.org/pdf/chicagotribune2014-08-26.pdf

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  5. Jack says:

    Gary,

    My crack research skills have led to my discovery of a June 2014 report — written by pro-corporate-ed-reform douchebag Alexander Russo, and commissioned/published by the alt-right American Enterprise Institute — on the impact of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN: (The title tips you off … HOW WAITING FOR SUPERMAN (ALMOST) CHANGED THE WORLD)

    https://www.scribd.com/document/229184454/How-Waiting-for-Superman-almost-changed-the-world#fullscreen&from_embed

    It’s basically 28 pages of Russo earning his huge AEI fee as he figuratively goes down on his knees, and then figuratively fellates Davis Guggenheim. (sorry for the graphic metaphor, but it’s spot on … read the report.)

    Thankfully, however, Russo DOES ask for updates on the kids, and you get this money quote … which continues the Guggenheim weasel-ese working that he used in the film:

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
    (page 24 on the page, and page 25 of the pfd counter)

    “Two other New York City students who didn’t get into their schools of choice onscreen – Bianca Hill and Francisco Regalado were unreachable. Citing privacy concerns, producer Lesley Chilcott declined to provide information about what kinds of schools they were currently attending.

    “ ‘We want to respect their privacy and not get into what’s happened to them,’ said Guggenheim. ‘People shouldn’t be worried about Bianca [individually] but rather about the million other kids
    like her.’ ”
    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

  6. LisaM says:

    The answer is that they are still waiting for Superman. People want to believe in fiction because it provides a respite from crummy circumstances.

  7. Jack says:

    Gary,

    Have you listened to this?

    https://www.gimletmedia.com/startup/success-academy-the-high-school

    Eva does high school … a total shit-show.

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  9. the Summit girl graduated in education–probably a teacher, but Emily Jones is a common name and it’s hard to confirm.

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