College - Author 1

College of Liberal Arts

Department - Author 1

Communication Studies Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BA in Communication Studies



Primary Advisor

Lauren Kolodziejski


This project analyzes the documentary Waiting for Superman in order to better understand the rhetoric surrounding public education in America. I perform a close textual analysis of the documentary and explore the rhetorical strategies the film uses to persuade its audience. Through my analysis I argue that Waiting for Superman employs rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos to successfully characterize the public school system as a failing institution. This failure is largely blamed on teachers unions who are vilified throughout the film and shown to be preventing progressive reforms from passing. Lastly, through the use of identification Waiting for Superman positions charter schools as the solution to overcome the failing public school system. While the film catapulted public education to the forefront of the public sphere, the documentary's narrow narrative left the public without concrete solutions to fix the educational system in America.