Movie Reviews: The Lottery




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     Variance Films (1 hr. 21 min.)
     Four children enter a high-stakes charter school lottery.
     Cory Booker, Geoffrey Canada, Joel Klein , Eva Moskowitz
Bottom Line:

Laurence Washington

Last month I was stunned to hear that the elementary school I attended was becoming a charter school.

What happened?

It was a good school when I attended there decades ago. The reports were that the school failed to meet current school board standards. My immediate questions were, “Are charter schools a good idea or bad idea?” 

Enter “The Lottery,” a film about charter schools that really doesn’t address those questions. I guess I was expecting ready canned answers.

In the film, many parents and school officials who are for or against charter schools, seemed more concerned with their own agendas than making sure that students receive a quality education.

I kind of get the same feeling in my hometown where 52 percent of the students graduate and go on to college. So in the midst of ferocious debates about education reform, “The Lottery” focuses on the four families from Harlem and the Bronx who join thousands of hopeful students and their families to win the chance of for a better future by attending the Harlem Success Academy – a renown NYC charter school.

As in most documentaries “The Lottery” has Interviews with the usual suspects – politicians, educators and even the President Obama explaining the crisis in public education, and how it can be fixed. They blame the teacher’s union, city bureaucracy and poverty of families as the culprits. None of which burden charter schools, which receives public dollars. The film reaches its emotion peak on lottery day, when 3,000 applicants fill and auditorium waiting to hear their names called. The rub, there’s only for 475 seats to fill the seats at the Harlem Success Academy



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