Controversial film draws hundreds, initiates public dialogue. Photos by Travis Gauthier

The Jan. 12 screening of the acclaimed documentary Waiting for Superman — the first event in the 2010 Independent Weekly Lecture Series sponsored by IberiaBank — appears to have sparked an ongoing community dialogue about public education in Acadiana. United Way of Acadiana, which helped facilitate the event that drew about 600 people to The Grand Theatre on Kaliste Saloom, has launched a series of Community Conversations to forward that dialogue.

The Superman screening was also made possible with supporting sponsors Cox Business and Associated Travel. Demand for tickets to the free screening was so great that Independent Weekly Co-Publisher Cherry Fisher May arranged a second screening that followed a panel discussion devoted to the film and its topic area. Panelists for the discussion on Jan. 12 were retired educator Melinda Mangham, UL education researcher Dr. Billy Stokes, parent and Community Coalition member Sarah Walker and Gary McGoffin, a Lafayette attorney and longtime public education advocate. The panel discussion was moderated by Independent Managing Editor Walter Pierce. A video of the panel discussion can be viewed at (put “Superman” into the search box) and at Hubcideo.

Written and directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, Waiting for Superman takes a critical look at public education across the country by examining the power — often to the detriment of school systems and students — of teacher unions as well as innovations in public education via charter schools.

United Way hosted its first Community Conversation Monday, Jan. 24, at 5 p.m. at the South Regional Library; the next, Jan. 31, is at 5 p.m. at the North Regional Library in Carencro and the final conversation takes place at the same time at the South Regional Library on Feb. 7. Participants in these conversations are individuals who attended the Jan. 12 Waiting for Superman screening.

A sellout crowd attends the screening. Cox’s Julie Dronet and Vincente Boreros with Vermilion Parish Schools Superintendent Randy Schexnayder
Robbie Bush and Cat Terrebonne
of Associated Travel
United Way’s Margaret Trahan

UL President Joe Savoie

Sarah Walker discusses the state of education in
Lafayette Parish
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Elaine Abell, center, and Lafayette Parish Schools
Superintendent Burnell Lemoine (in glasses at right)

Panelists Mangham, Stokes, Beasley, Walker and McGoffin
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The Ind’s Walter Pierce Representatives from business, education, nonprofits and
government take in the documentary.




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