Friday, July 31, 2009

The Cartel - watch it

Fridays need to be simplified – especially in the blogosphere. So I just wanted to provide some quick thoughts on The Cartel – the documentary that looks at education in New Jersey but could apply to any state. To me the most powerful point in the movie is the charter school lottery. The artificial caps on the number of charter schools in this country means that in many places you have to put your name into a lottery to see if you get to go to a great school.

In the movie two women get so overwhelmed by the fact that their daughters get in, they have to leave the classroom where the lottery is held and go outside to celebrate. When asked what this means to their daughters they simply say - this has saved her life, she now has a chance at success. The striking contrast is the next shot which shows a girl with tears just streaming down her face because she did not get in.

Imagine your life decided by a lottery. Imagine your safety and success are totally dependent on a random drawing. It is absolutely pathetic.

The second striking thing is the interview with the head of the NJEA teacher’s union who demonstrates a total lack of concern for students. In one case she is asked if it is OK that a teacher with massive anger management issues punched a student in the face and could not be fired. Her response is that of course it is OK as long as there is due process it is a good thing.

Finally, if you have not seen Derrell Bradford speak on how to save students, you have not seen passion in education. He was brilliant and you cannot help but get excited by the opportunity to do anything to save kids from hideous schools when he is done.

It is definitely worth seeing the film and if you are in education reform – you need to show it in your state. Thanks to Dan Lips and Heritage for the screening!