Borders to Offer $15 Gift Cards for Public Schools

Tom Chieppo

Waiting for Superman has been the must discussed documentary of the year, creating a ton of buzz on how the American education system in public schools is on the decline. The movie was released on September 24, 2010 and has inspired a promotional collaboration among the Borders Group superstore chain, an education fundraiser, and the publisher of the movies companion book as well.

On December 4-5, any Borders customer making an in-store purchase, whether of a book, bagel, latte, etc., received a $15 gift card to donate to a public school of choice through, an internet-based charity. Also, anyone purchasing the book Waiting for Superman: How We Can Save America’s Falling Public Schools received a second $15 card.

There was a panel discussion about Waiting for Superman in more detail on, especially discussing the movies’ issues with the unions, teachers, and the education system. It also discussed how kids are not getting the skills they need in order to contribute to the world of society.

Geoffrey Canada President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone since 1990, Arne Duncan, an American education administrator and currently United States Secretary of Education, Randi Weingarten, an American labor leader, attorney, educator, and the current president of the America Federation of Teachers (AFT), Michelle Rhee, the former Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools System of Washington D.C. in the United States, and Davis Guggenheim, the Director of “Waiting for Superman, and other movies such as It Might Get Loud (2009), Gracie, (2007), and An Inconvenient Truth (2006) shared all their thoughts on the public/charter schools education system.

The education system is on the decline, especially because it is not preparing kids for society’s most difficult challenges. This sort of system can hurt them in the long run. The only way to fix this problem is to make a change and reached agreements with teachers unions, super intendants, parents, etc. to make sure that this problem does not get any worse.

“I absolutely believe that [it] is a national crisis,” said Canada, on “I don’t care about the tenures for great teachers or mediocre teachers, but I do care about tenures for lousy teachers. It’s like working in a factory when the bell blows, your job is done. We don’t want factory workers. It’s about the kids and it takes a lot of courage to be a teacher.”

Arne Duncan elaborated on the way the Unions have been handling the education system in this country. “Unions are either going to be a part of the solution, or part of the problem,” said Duncan, according to “Right now, they are a part of the problem far too often. It’s not only a sense of urgency; it’s an outrage in the lack of quality of educational opportunities that are here in our country.”

Randi Weingarten, spoke about matters of tenure and the development of teachers. “We have a contract with Michelle Rhee,” said Weingarten, according to “The contract consists of how we can develop, train, and support our teachers, and that’s what we are trying to do. What is wrong with tenure? It should be a fairness process and it shouldn’t be an evaluation process, or a job for life.”

Michelle Rhee, spoke about charter schools and public schools and fighting continuously to make sure kids are put first in the matter of education. “This drives me crazy. Charters schools are public schools,” according to “We should be talking about excellent schools. We cannot retreat now. It’s time to lean forward, be aggressive, and be amending about it.”

Davis Guggenheim enlightened the panel with his take not only on the film, but education in general. “Regular people, mothers and fathers, neighbors, want great schools for our kids,” said Guggenheim according “The challenge was how to get the people to care again? Lets’ bring everybody to the table to fix our schools.”

Will these $15 gift cards be enough for children to receive a better education? What are the unions, super intendants, teachers, Department of Education going to do to change this matter more to make sure that every child receives an education? Is Waiting for Superman the savor of restoring the education in public schools to get more people to take this matter seriously and fix this catastrophic problem? We shall wait and see.