I also have to say that the picture of unions and their role in education is not a black-and-white one. I've gotten to know union leaders who I think understand that the reforms we need will mean some serious adjustments on the part of their members, and that we need to rethink the rigid systems that we've gotten locked in to since the New Deal era. At the same time, these progressive union leaders can't get too far ahead of their members. And they understandably don't want to give aid and comfort to some politicians who are in fact anti-worker and are at least as interested in undermining the power of labor as they are in improving our schools.

So these union leaders are walking a political tightrope. I hope that more and more of them will find the courage to do the right things in support of true reform, and that they'll be able to bring the vast majority of union members along with them.

As far as the film is concerned, I hope the fairness and honesty I've tried to bring to this issue will be obvious to audiences, and I hope people will try to take what I'm offering and use it to help illuminate ways to improve our schools for the benefit of kids, rather than to bash teachers or unions or anyone else. But in the end that depends on the good will of people I have no control over. All I can do is try to serve the truth as I've found it, and that's what I've tried to do in Waiting For "Superman."

At the same time, I hope the overriding impression that people take away from the movie is a hopeful one. I didn't want to make a second film about education unless I could direct it in such a way that it would have a powerful impact and hold out some promise that it is possible to fix our schools.

Excerpted from Waiting For "Superman": How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools by Davis Guggenheim, edited by Karl Weber. Copyright © 2010 by Participant Media. Reprinted by permission of PublicAffairs New York, a member of the Perseus Books Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Next Story