Two men who dropped out of high school but went on to graduate from the Greater Miami Service Corps were recently picked to attend a private screening of the documentary Waiting for Superman that deals with public education.
Victor Gaines and William White, who live in the Liberty City/Model City area of Miami, traveled to Chicago, accompanied by Corps supervisor Robert Clark to join a panel drawn from around the country to discuss the failure of public schools.
The film is directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim, known for the Al Gore documentary on the environment, An Inconvenient Truth.
The feature-length documentary explores the shortcomings of the public education system and the role of charter schools and education reformers.
Corps member and graduates said the reasons they dropped out of school included unqualified teachers and an inability of teachers to assist and counsel students during times of crisis.
White dropped out of high school at 16 to work and support his family after his single mother lost her job. He got involved with drugs and crime and was sent to prison but released to the drug rehabilitation program Better Way.
During his drug treatment, he was introduced to the Greater Miami Service Corps and reluctantly joined but realized it was an opportunity to go back to school and find a steady job. He is studying for his GED and has been hired by the Corps as a crew leader.
Gaines decided at 12, when his single mother couldn’t afford to buy him Christmas gifts that he would do something for himself. He started hustling at a gas station and then turned to selling drugs. At 17, he was convicted as a juvenile.
While in jail, he was very rebellious, landing several times in solitary confinement, when he asked for GED books from the library and began educating himself. After his release from the Juvenile Detention Center in 2008, he vowed never to go back to jail. He used money he made selling perfumes on bus fare in search of work but no one would hire him.
The Corps accepted him and he earned his GED and a construction credential from the National Center for Construction and Education Research. He is now enrolled at Miami Dade College, studying Business Administration.
• To view the trailer of Waiting for Superman, log on to waitingforsuperman.com/trailer.