Over at the Education Sector, there's a movie review about school choice.
Analysis and Perspectives » What We're Watching » Tough Luck
A review of the film 'The Lottery'
June 8, 2010
"The Lottery" (2010), directed by Madeleine Sackler. The film opens to a wider audience on June 8. For theater listings, visit: http://www.screenvision.com/s/showing/TheLottery/.
"Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker supports charter schools. But he might hesitate before encouraging everyone to see the new documentary "The Lottery," which follows four young children and their families as they vie for a spot at Harlem Success Academy, a coveted charter school across the river in New York City. In the film, Booker says he no longer attends the lotteries that over-subscribed charter schools like Harlem Success Academy use to select students because they break his heart, and because "a child's destiny should not be determined on the pull of a draw."
"Many who see "The Lottery" will likely share Booker's conflicted feelings. The film does an excellent job of showing both the promise and the limits of charter schools and public school choice. When Booker uses the word "destiny," he's not exaggerating; the families feel that winning or losing this lottery will go a long way to determine their child's future. As one prospective Harlem Success parent says in the film, "They instill in those kids from the beginning that 'my goal is to become a college graduate.' I think that if I had had that type of setting ... I think that would have made a big difference in my life."
"And yet, it's no spoiler to alert audience members that some of the families profiled will lose the lottery; more than 3,000 families apply for 475 seats. Those who stay to attend a neighborhood school will be assigned to one of 23 elementary schools. At 19 of these schools, fewer than half of the students are reading on grade level. In contrast, at Harlem Success Academy, 95 percent of third-graders read at grade level, and 100 percent score proficient on the state math exam. Thus, the stakes for these four particular families are high.
""The Lottery's" strength is in showing the audience the school choice process through the eyes of these families..."