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  • The Lottery: Children’s Futures Left to Luck

    Tomorrow, a new documentary, The Lottery, will premier in Washington, DC.

    The film is based on the Harlem charter school lottery: a luck-of-the-draw process to determine who of thousands of vying New York City children will be offered 475 charter school slots. Specifically, it tells the stories of four New York families hoping to break free from New York City public schools to increase the likelihood of their children’s educational success. Madeleine Sackler, the film’s director tells the Wall Street Journal:

    These are parents who don’t have the means to move to a richer neighborhood with better public schools, so instead they have to rely on luck. When demand for a charter school exceeds supply, the random drawing is required by law. Some schools inform parents by mail, but Harlem Success holds a public lottery.

    The film not only takes the viewer through the emotional roller coaster of the lottery process, but illustrates the political opposition that curbs the growth of more charter schools to fill the demand of these families. Why such opposition to educational opportunity for NY children? Eva Moskowitz, founder of the Harlem Success Academy network and a key character in the film, identifies the “union-political-educational complex.”

    In one scene, viewers see the likes of Acorn, hired to protest a charter school on behalf of the teachers union. While the film was not originally meant to be political, Sackler comments:

    Finding out that the teachers union had hired a rent-a-mob to protest on its behalf was “the turn for us in the process.” That story—of self-interested adults trying to deny poor parents choice for their children—provided an answer to Ms. Sackler’s fundamental question: “If there are these high-performing schools that are closing the achievement gap, why aren’t there more of them?

    The film also seeks to dispel the myth that children are failing because parents don’t care. As The Lottery reveals, there are many parents who are willing to fight for their children’s education. However, a broken system provides little chance at accomplishing that. The Lottery’s message will hopefully bring families one step closer to achieving that goal.

    “The public education system is at a crossroads,” Ms. Sackler says. “Do we want to go back to the time when children are forced to attend their district school no matter how underperforming it is? Or do we want to let parents choose what’s best for their kids and provide a lot of options?”

    For more information on the film and screening dates, visit http://thelotteryfilm.com/.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to The Lottery: Children’s Futures Left to Luck

    1. Mike Heiser, Belling says:

      Isn't there any way money can be raised to send these kids to the schools they want to attend? Can't the lottery be circumvented like that? This is terrible.

    2. Billie says:

      Why Mr. President? Why do you continue to deprive proper and excellent education in the public schools system? THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEMS ENSURED THAT TO BE THE REASON FOR MORE MONEY THE LAST 10 PLUS YEARS. LIKE YOU, THERE IS PLENTY OF DECEPTION AND FAILURE TO GO AROUND.

      Why aren't public schools in conformity of the curriculum? (in my state the gpa is listed according to skin color, culture, creed, race. Asians are at the top. Why can't gpa's be applied to the population of CHILDREN without singling out ethnicity/? A little manipulation for a future crisis of ethnic discord?

      Choice should only pertain to extra curricular activities, parents should be able to trust that everyone teaching, in ANY public school is qualified with dignity and integrity! GET OUT OF OUR HOUSE, MR. PRESIDENT, YOU AND YOUR DECEPTION, DON'T BELONG! The children have a right to know they are individuals with their own potential. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, Mr. President! Why do you continue to deny the youth in the country you lead?

    3. Helen says:

      There is a way. Unfortunately, it would require drastic changes for how our education system is run and for how we parent. Changes which would require a strong leader to implement. Determine how much is to be spent per child on education. $3000/year? Mail a check to every parent with a child between the ages of 8 and 18. Parents will choose the school their child will attend. Schools will have to compete to get the dollars.

      Parents will have to be focused on their children and vested in their lives. Taxpayers will no longer fund free babysitting and "early childhood education". Parents will be responsible for teaching their children basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills. These are the easiest years to teach a child. It only requires a couple of hours a day and lots of fun with one's own child. There are numerous resources already available to parents who care to raise and educate their own children.

      Parents will also be responsible for getting their children to and from the chosen school. No more public funded school transportation. Private industry is sure to accomodate any parent who finds this a huge burden.

      It's time to put the responsibility back where it belongs – parents. Give them the power to see that they are quite capable of providing for their children's needs. Take the power away from the education monster that has sprouted up in this country.

      My children have never attended school. I have been teaching all four myself on one income. I know many families who have more children on less income that do the same. Stop using money as a reason why parents can't do what is necessary for their children.

    4. Bruno Behrend says:


      Here is the best way circumvent a lottery. Agitate for converting every inner-city public school to a charter simply by operation of parental vote.


      "The Cartel" and "The Lottery" are the first shots across the bow of the morally illegitimate teachers unions.

      Watching them block poor black kids from a shot at a better education is like watching southern segregationists point the fire hoses at civil rights marchers.

      Make sure your rich, white, suburban soccer mom hears that message.

    5. Drew Page, IL says:

      We need to get the federal government out of public education. Education should be left to the states. Let the people in their respective states decide how education will be provided and funded.

    6. Pingback: Harlem School Lottery

    7. Pingback: Over/Under III | In the Name of Mars

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