There are two ways to look at American Teacher, the recently released documentary by Dave Eggers and Ninive Clements Calegari:
1) If you don't know much about public education and school reform, then American Teacher is a well-made film which very poignantly and realistically portrays what it is to live the life of a teacher. Everyone agrees that teachers are under-paid and undervalued (well, almost everyone). After seeing this film, the public will be more aware of this.
2) If you are steeped in public education and school reform, then American Teacher is a well-made film which very poignantly and realistically portrays what it is to live the life of a teacher. Everyone agrees that teachers are under-paid and undervalued. However, it will drive you nuts that the film skips over the wild disagreements between various educators, education scholars, and education reformers on how to increase compensation for America's teachers. The film features the ideas of Linda Darling-Hammmond, Eric Hanushek, and Jason Kamras (of DCPS) as if they were all on the same page and as if the research on merit pay, VAM, and economic predictor models were uncontroversial in education reform debates.
While I still hope lots of people see it, I think it would have been better if the film makers had let the vignettes speak for themselves, alone, if they trusted the viewers to come away with their own thoughts about and reactions to education policy. The narratives and stories were so compelling and so complex, it was a shame to have them mixed in with such a confusing and shallow presentation of policy ideas.
If I am not making a clear case for what the film's flaws were, Dana Goldstein absolutely does in her review.
One personal upside to my watching American Teacher, poorly done aspects and all: Being so steeped in education and education reform topics, I was reminded to be much more skeptical of simplistic accounts from other policy topics of interest but about which I know considerably less than I do about education, even if it's coming from people and organizations I respect.