When I was in high school, there was an incredible amount of buzz around a new documentary, Waiting for Superman. The documentary focused on the struggle some students faced to get a quality education in major U.S. cities, like Washington, D.C. For many the film was enlightening, but for some the idea of “lottery schools” were controversial.

My teacher encouraged our entire AP English class to watch this documentary, as we were all attending a nationally ranked “lottery school” just a few miles outside of Washington, D.C in Arlington, Virginia. She encouraged us to look for the similarities and differences in the two education systems that were separated by only a few miles. To set the stage, I lived in Arlington with my family, and our home was situated 3.5 miles from the Washington Monument. My neighborhood school was a nationally ranked Top 10 High School as calculated by the U.S. News and World Report, while the lottery school I was attending was a nationally ranked Top 3 High School as determined by the U.S. News and World Report. No matter which school I went to, I would have had a great education by any standard.

Before watching this film, I had never thought of the privilege that my zip code brought me. I never knew how vastly different the education system was 10 minutes from my home. It had never occurred to me that some students worry about whether their school is able to provide what they need to have the life they want for themselves. This film showed me that the education system was not “fair”, nor equal. I didn’t “earn” my zip code, I was simply born into it. Thus, I didn’t “earn” my education; I didn’t do anything special to obtain my education.

Every student is entitled to a quality education, no matter their zip code. After seeing this film, I was convinced that something needed to be changed in our education system. Every student deserves to have access to the same education that I was able to experience. It is a basic right for students to be safe, supported, and challenged to their greatest ability in school. All children should have access to a top tier educational experience. No child should have to worry about having access to a quality education. The lasting impact this film had on me, ultimately led me to choose a career in education as a teacher.

– Samantha (Teacher)