• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Why You Should Buy Into "The Lottery"

    The Lottery, a new documentary about charter schools in New York City, is changing the debate on parental choice in education.  Madeleine Sackler, a 27 year old graduate of Duke University and creator of the film, follows 4 students who have been entered into a lottery to be selected for one of the spots at Harlem Success Academy (a transformative system of charter schools that is catching the eyes of policymakers across the country.) The film will be screened today at 5:30 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Details below the jump.

    In addition to the four students and their families, the filmmaker interviews local council members, a writer for New York Magazine, Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker, and many others for their perspectives on why charter schools are an important part of the school choice landscape. Mayor Booker notes that he can’t even attend the lotteries anymore in his city because they break his heart watching the hundreds of applicants who aren’t selected.  Officials from the local chapter of the United Federation of Teachers as well as the National Education Association were invited to present their views. However, they declined.

    One scene in the film involves an exchange between a local public official and Eva Moskowitz, founder and principal of Harlem Success Academy.  The official claims that Moskowitz is lying about living in Harlem and demands she tell her and the entire council and residents in attendance her actual address.  This councilwoman is an ardent supporter of traditional public schools and the teachers’ unions.  She attempts to use threats and intimidation to scare Moskowitz away from championing reform with parental choice in education.  Moskowitz is taken aback by the accusation but agrees to swear an oath in private that she 1) went to school in Harlem as a child 2) lives in Harlem and 3) isn’t some outsider trying to wrest control of the schools from the local community.  The chairman of the council interrupts the exchange and personally verifies that Moskowitz does live in Harlem.  Distractions like this only serve the personal interests of the union-political-education complex and not children and parents.

    Despite all this, Harlem Success Academy has closed the achievement gap.

    • 95% of Harlem Success 3rd graders passed the New York State English Language Arts exam, with nearly a quarter achieving the top score of “4,” ranking the school #2 out of all public charters in the state.
    • 100% of Harlem Success 3rd graders passed the New York State math exam, with 71% achieving the top score of “4,” ranking the school #1 out of all public charters in the state.
    • Harlem Success Academy ranks #32 out of 3500 public schools in New York.
    • No public school in the state scored higher than Harlem Success on the math exam.

    However, the unions aren’t backing down.  During the annual meeting over the Independence Day weekend, the National Education Association offered resolutions, which ultimately failed, to produce a $25 million documentary against charter schools. The NEA did pass a resolution directing the NEA and its affiliates “to expose and educate the media and the public about allegedly grassroots, pro-charter ‘parent groups’ that are popping up with greater frequency on both the national and local level.”

    The best way to end the stranglehold the teachers’ unions have on the nation’s public schools is to allow for parental choice in education, be it vouchers, charters, tax credits, or scholarships.  When parents are empowered, children win.  When the status quo is strengthened, children lose.   This film demonstrates the power of school choice and will leave you in tears at the end.

    A free screening of The Lottery at the Pickford Theater inside the Madison Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., today at 5:30 PM. Following the film, there will be a panel discussion. Click here to RSVP.

    Michael Wille is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Why You Should Buy Into "The Lottery"

    1. Charles Donahue says:

      Great post Mr. Wille! This looks like one hell of a documentary, I'm looking forward to catching it wherever I can.

    2. Sen. Jesse Helms, He says:

      Mr. Wille, There's nothing I love more than to hear about new documentaries on education policy. I'd like to commend you for your mastery of bold font, links, and embedded video. My favorite part was when you turned the facts about the Harlem schools into bullet points about the Harlem schools. Well done; very well done. I look forward to big things from you in the future.

    3. Rosie, Los Angeles says:

      I am generally liberal on most issues but I never realized how bad teacher's unions were for public schools. After hearing about this documentary and seeing an interview of the filmmaker, I hope parents fight to get more charter schools in their neighborhoods so our education system will no longer be the laughing stock of the world. Even third world countries have better schools than America does. It's a disgrace!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×