April 9, 2010 —
Teachers punished for speaking out. Principals fired for trying to do what’s right. Union leaders defending the indefensible. Bureaucrats blocking new charter schools. These are just some of the people we meet in “The Cartel.” The film also introduces us to teens who can’t read, parents desperate for change, and teachers struggling to launch stable alternative schools for inner-city kids who want to learn. We witness the tears of a little girl denied a coveted charter school spot, and we share the triumph of a Camden homeschool’s first graduating class.
Together, these people and their stories offer an unforgettable look at how a widespread national crisis manifests itself in the educational failures and frustrations of individual communities. They also underscore what happens when our schools don’t do their job. “These are real children whose lives are being destroyed,” director Bob Bowdon explains.
“The Cartel” shows us our educational system like we’ve never seen it before. Behind every dropout factory–as we discover–lurks a powerful, entrenched, and self-serving cartel. But “The Cartel” doesn’t just describe the problem. Balancing local storylines against interviews with education experts such as Clint Bolick (former president of Alliance for School Choice), Gerard Robinson (president of Black Alliance for Educational Options), and Chester Finn (president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute), “The Cartel” explores what dedicated parents, committed teachers, clear-eyed officials, and tireless reformers are doing to make our schools better for our kids.
This movie will force the scales to fall from the eyes of policymakers, education officials, reformers, intellectuals, teachers, and taxpayers. Putting a human face on the harm done by the educational cartel, “The Cartel” takes us beyond the statistics, generalizations, and abstractions that typically frame our debates about education-and draws an unequivocal bottom line: If we care about our children’s futures, we must insist upon far-reaching and immediate reform. And we must do it now.
Opens April 16, 2010 at the Quad in New York City.