Many, Many Children Left Behind in Ed Doc, The Lottery


The ginger stepchild of President Obama’s election platform, it seems that this country’s broke-ass education system is finally stepping up for its media moment. On the heels of a recent 60 Minutes piece on Washington, D.C.’s SEED school and New York Times Magazine cover story focused on education reform comes The Lottery, a precise, impassioned look at the battle between zone and charter schools in Harlem. Director Madeleine Sackler interweaves the stories of four charter hopefuls and their families with an exploration of an issue whose politics have grown so complex that they squiggle even partisan lines. Sackler finds personal, persuasive points of entry for key factors in the debate: Statistics contrasting the annual amounts spent on a child’s education and a prisoner’s housing are followed by the account of a school lottery entrant’s incarcerated father, who laments his lack of choice as much as the choices he made. An electrifying community meeting finds Harlem Success president Eva Moskowitz both vilified and heralded as “our Obama” by local parents, as the unions depend on such poorly understood class and neighborhood tensions to maintain the status quo. Sackler reframes education reform as a moral issue, and it’s impossible to look at the fallen faces of kids turned away from a school—of all things—and disagree.