Waiting for the wrong superhero

Amidst the furor over the past few weeks–including the release of “Waiting for Superman”, Oprah’s teacher-bashing show, and Secretary Duncan’s insulting rhetoric–I think that a major point is being overlooked.  And, as an avid comic book collector, I aim to correct this injustice.

It began many moons ago, when I learned about “Waiting”.  The much-debated documentary film by Davis Guggenheim (director of An Inconvenient Truth) dumps blame for the sad state of American Public Education on educators and their unions.  Right away I knew that his choice of superheroes was all wrong.

Superman is arguably the oldest comic book superhero.  His powers come from the fact that he is an alien–his abilities were normal on his homeworld.  While he is easily the most well-known superhero, Superman represents a poorly-chosen metaphor for the film’s protagonists who promise salvation.

Superman usually works by himself.  He saves people because of an undying devotion to his adopted planet.  His powers come to him effortlessly.  This is not what America needs.  We need a cadre of coordinated leaders willing to do what is needed at all costs.

courtesy of Flickr user ChiBart

We’re waiting for the Green Lantern.

Well, technically, the Green Lantern Corps.  (I’ll forgive those of who with no knowledge of this, the greatest of all superheroes.  Next summer’s blockbuster movie starring Ryan Reynolds should fix that.  In the meantime, here’s a little background).

Green Lanterns are galactic police officers tasked with restoring order to their respective “sectors” using their Power Rings, which must be recharged in a green-colored, Coleman-reject, lantern once “each solar cycle”.  The magic of the Green Lantern comics have always come down to the individuality of each Green Lantern and how he (or, rarely, she) use his focus and imagination to create tools out of green energy using the Power Ring.  All Green Lanterns share a common goal, but they reach it in a myriad of ways limited only by their willpower.

Now, isn’t that what we need right now?  Not grand schemes or “pie in the sky” ideas from another planet.  Not simple solutions that work in tiny, unique situations.  Not swarms of good-hearted volunteers who teach because they want to make the world a better place.

No, right now we need a focused effort from a coordinated group of talented educators sharing a common goal, and armed with both will and power*.  We need a national effort to tap into the imagination and energy of our own Green Lantern Corps.

So, forget Kryptonian princes with curly bangs and blue tights.  I’m waiting for my Power Ring to arrive in the mail.  There’s work to do.

*Sounds like an oxymoron, right?  Ironically, the more will, the less power a teacher is likely to have.