Education policy and political players came to the Newseum for the DC premiere of Washington’s own Oscar-winning filmmaker David Guggenheim’s new documentary “Waiting for Superman.” But it was DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee who locals were talking about as they were exiting the Newseum auditorium.
Rhee, featured in the documentary and on the Newseum panel discussion last night, has made headlines for her radical education reforms in the District. When asked whether it was her fault Mayor Adrian Fenty, seeking re-election, lost the Democratic primary on Tuesday, she blasted the results as being “devastating to DC public school students.”
“Yesterday’s election results were devastating – devastating. Not for me, I will be fine. Not for Fenty, he will be fine too. It was devastating for the children of Washington, DC,” said Rhee. Her comments drew applause by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Guggenheim and the audience.
Rhee continued, “The biggest tragedy is the lesson we should take from this is to pull back. We cannot retreat now in anything….Now is the time to lean forward and be more aggressive and more adamant.”
Rhee was surrounded by fans who lined up for photos and hugs after the session.
New York magazine writer John Heilemann moderated the panel which also included Guggenheim; Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers; and Geoffrey Canada, the Harlem educator who is the bright star of the film.
The top dogs at Paramount including Brad Grey and Phillipe Dauman were on hand to introduce the film after a hilarious video intro by Stephen Colbert. Attendees included David and Susan Axelrod, Bill and Elaine Bennett, Bill and Laura Burton, Julianna Smoot and Lon Johnson, George Stevens, Hilary Rosen, Mike Feldman, and Ebs Burnough. Top news reporters and pundits in the crowd included Jake Tapper, Ed Henry, Michele Martin, Jamal Simmons, and Roland Martin.
“Waiting for Superman” will be in select theaters on September 24.