Tuesday, February 21, 2012

School Choice and the Silver Screen

Here at School Choice Now!, we’re not usually in the business of movie reviews, but lately we’ve been seeing a lot of films about education reform.  This education film movement is led by breakout hit Waiting for Superman, but now has many documentaries and a few dramas to bolster this new “education refilm” genre.

So want to grab some popcorn and watch a few films on education reform?  Here’s a roundup of some of our favorites:

The Cartel (2009)—

“How has the richest and most innovative society on earth suddenly low the ability to teach its children at a level that other modern countries consider “basic”?”

Directed by Bob Bowden, a former producer, reporter, and news anchor, this film looks at how education reform, not education spending, can change our education system.  Looking at New Jersey, which in 2005 spent as high as $483,000 per classroom, the film looks at the cause of our underachievement and what can be done to ensure our children achieve, including charter schools and vouchers.

The Lottery (2010) —

“You could win an education”

A documentary that focuses on the lottery system—a system developed by charter schools that have more families that want to attend than spots available.  This film follows four families whose futures depend on this lottery system to escape the public school system.

The Experiment (2011)—

Ben Lemoine’s documentary focuses on New Orleans that was rocked by Hurricane Katrina, but opened a door to create educational opportunity out of a natural disaster.  Looking at the Recovery School District, this film follows five children as they navigate through a city with charter schools and a voucher program for students from low-income families attending failing schools.

Race to Nowhere (2009)—

This documentary that looks at how to reshape our education so that we create happy, creative, motivated adults that thrive in jobs.  Looking at the pressures on today’s students this film asks: Are the young people of today prepared to step fully and productively into their future?

            Waiting for Superman (2010) —

“The fate of our country won't be decided on a battlefield, it will be determined in a classroom”

This documentary by filmmaker David Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) follows five children (Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily) and their families navigate our education system. Watch the clip below:

Won’t Back Down (2012) —

Stepping out of the documentary genre into a drama film, Won’t Back Down tells the story of two mothers who use the parent trigger law to transform their neighborhood school.  Starring Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Holly Hunter (as the union representative), this film puts into practice what’s trendy in education reform: parent trigger laws, which have been passed in several states including California and Ohio, but have yet transformed a public school into a charter school.  We’ll be interested to see where Hollywood takes this one.  This movie is set to be released in September 2012.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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