The Cartel, The Lottery, Waiting for "Superman" available online

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Three recent documentaries critical of K-12 education in America are now available for online viewing. Each film dramatizes the failures of public education, the efforts by lower-income parents to secure a better education for their children, and the ways that bureaucracy and entrenched interest groups work to thwart those efforts. (Hat tip to Ace of Spades HQ.)

The Cartel (92 minutes) is available for free streaming on Hulu and is also available for instant streaming to Netflix subscribers.

Teachers punished for speaking out. Principals fired for trying to do the right thing. Union leaders defending the indefensible. Bureaucrats blocking new charter schools. These are just some of the people we meet in The Cartel. The film also introduces us to teens who can't read, parents desperate for change, and teachers struggling to launch stable alternative schools for inner city kids who want to learn. We witness the tears of a little girl denied a coveted charter school spot, and we share the triumph of a Camden homeschool's first graduating class.

Together, these people and their stories offer an unforgettable look at how a widespread national crisis manifests itself in the educational failures and frustrations of individual communities. They also underscore what happens when our schools don't do their job. "These are real children whose lives are being destroyed," director Bob Bowdon explains.

The Lottery (80 minutes) is also available for free streaming on Hulu and for instant streaming to Netflix subscribers.

In a country where 58% of African American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, The Lottery uncovers the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to flee the system every year. The Lottery follows four of these families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in a charter school lottery. Out of thousands of hopefuls, only a small minority will win the chance of a better future.

Directed by Madeleine Sackler and shot by award-winning cinematographer Wolfgang Held, The Lottery uncovers a ferocious debate surrounding the education reform movement. Interviews with politicians and educators explain not only the crisis in public education, but also why it is fixable. A call to action to avert a catastrophe in the education of American children, The Lottery makes the case that any child can succeed.

Waiting for "Superman" is not available on Hulu, but is available for instant streaming to Netflix subscribers. It's notable as a critique of the public school system from the left side of the political spectrum.

It was a morning like any other -- as Academy Award winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim was taking his young children to school -- that he was moved to act. Like many parents in America who are lucky enough to have the means, Guggenheim's children were headed that morning to an expensive private school, where he was assured they would find themselves in an invigorating environment with talented teachers devoted to bringing out the best in them.

But as he drove past the teeming, troubled, poorly performing public schools his family was able to bypass, Guggenheim was struck with questions he could not shake: What about the kids who had no other choice? What kind of education were they getting? Where were the assurances that they would have the chance to live out their dreams, to fulfill their vast potential? How heartsick and worried did their parents feel as they dropped their kids off this morning? And how could this be right in 21st Century America?

I would hope that anyone seeking a position on a school board will have seen these films and be prepared to talk about how they and the school system they seek to serve. Here in Tulsa County that should mean to encourage and facilitate the creation of new charter schools and to stop trying to use lawsuits to obstruct voucher programs like the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program.

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Bob said:

Having seen the original theatrical release of "Waiting for Superman", and the DVD of "The Cartel", I can speak to both as excellent sources of greater understanding of the dysfunction present in our public school system, and the major role that the militant teachers union plays in that continued dysfunction.

No amount of money can fix the problem. The union is the problem, because it introduces lack of accountability for the quality of instruction.

While the militant teachers union espouses a stated purpose of their militancy as its all "for the children", actually it is all for the union, first, last and forever.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 12, 2011 10:34 PM.

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