By Francisco Gonzalez, JMI Development Director
A new movie is premiering in theaters across the country. Titled, “The Lottery,” this film isn’t about hitting the jackpot and winning millions of dollars. It is actually about much higher stakes: the future of millions of individual American children. The film takes a particular focus on low-income families and their attempts to have their children flee the public school system each year.
“The Lottery” follows four families from Harlem and the Bronx who register their children in a charter school lottery. As the film demonstrates, there is simply not enough room in charter schools for parents who want to take their children out of the failing public school system. So, as in many big cities, New York City has a lottery system to determine which students and families will have that choice. As most of the children coming from these families and attending public schools are functionally illiterate, being picked (or not picked) in this lottery could make a world of difference.One of their biggest obstacles to increasing charter schools and expanding other parental choice programs is teacher unions. As highlighted last month by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, teacher unions collect hundreds of millions of dollars each year from teachers and taxpayers, and they often go to all lengths to prevent any kind of parental choice. As Governor Christie said, children are “trapped by an educational bureaucracy” who care more about protecting their own interests than about the most vulnerable children in inner cities across the country.Disagree? I challenge you to watch “The Lottery.” It is playing in select movie theaters – or you can buy a copy on DVD. Renting a whole movie theater for a week would be much less than the teachers unions are going to spend to continue the monopoly public schools have on your children’s education.