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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Aug 16th 2010, 01:42 PM
There are at least four documentaries that espouse charter schools and make public school teachers look like fools.

Teachers can not do much about it, they don't have the resources. They don't have the money of the huge corporations backing the privatization of public schools. They are hindered in speaking out much because they can be given poor evaluations for not respecting authority.

Of course the major one getting the superbig, super glitzy attention with now is Waiting for Superman. It was introduced at Sundance by Bill Gates. It is the kind of propaganda that teachers have to sit and take because they can not fight back against Guggenheim and Gates.

This review is from the NYC Public School Parents' blog. There are other bloggers who denounced its propaganda as well, but none count very much or get much attention. With Bill Gates signature on the documentary, it is as good as sold.

Coming Soon: The "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH" of Ed Reform?

Arguably the single most important spur to public acceptance and concern over global climate change as an issue came from Davis Guggenheim's 2006 documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." With that video, global warming moved from being a topic of scientific conferences, technical journals, and environmental activists to being a household term familiar to parents and children alike.

What "An Inconvenient Truth" and Al Gore did for climate change, Guggenheim's "Waiting for Superman" and Bill Gates may soon be doing for American education reform. Judging from reports emanating from this year's Sundance Film Festival, a popular-media tidal wave is taking shape, and it could well make all previous efforts to sell the Bush/Spellings/Obama/Duncan education reforms look like ripples in a backyard wading pool.

And make no is correct to refer to it as the Bush/Spelling/Obama/Duncan education agenda. This administration is bringing it to fruition.

Here's part of one Sundance attendee's review (Matt Belloni, from the Hollywood Reporter):

"In fact, for all its focus on underprivileged, inner-city kids, sections of SUPERMAN feel like they could have been cut together by Bill O'Reilly. Slo-mo footage of union leader speeches opposing reform that could help problem schools. Hidden-cam video of a teacher reading newspapers and checking his watch as his class goofs around. New York educators being paid millions to not teach. A major subject of the film, reform-minded DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, runs into a crippling teachers-union road block in her effort to shift pay structures to reward good teachers."

..."And who are the stars of Guggenheim's film? None other than NYC's own Geoffrey Canada, supported by Michelle Rhee and KIPP founders David Levin and Mike Feinberg, backed by a song written and performed just for this movie by John Legend.

So where is the Superman who can save our little blond children from these incompetent teachers and their devil's-spawn unions? Where's Clark Kent when we need him? Never fear, that bespectacled, geeky guy is here, only this Superman's street-clothes identity is Bill Gates. Numerous reports from Sundance indicate that billion-dollar Bill has shown more than a passing interest in this film. In fact, he was a highly visible participant at the Sundance Festival's "Waiting for Superman" screening, actually sharing the stage at the Q&A afterward with Guggenheim and Canada. He even twittered gushingly from the screening that there was "not a dry eye in the house." (Sniff, sniff).

Someone today told me I was wrong to criticize the film, that it was worthy of seeing. I am quite sure with all the power and money behind it that is truly a work of art. But it is damning of public education, which is its goal.

Speaking of education by chance, one of the first ones was called The Lottery.

"Education by Chance" Review of "The Lottery." NYT review points out one-sided view.

With a little tweaking “The Lottery” would fit nicely into the marketing materials for the Harlem Success Academy, a public charter school founded by Eva Moskowitz, a former New York City councilwoman. On one level, this heart-tugging documentary recounts the experiences of four children competing in the academy’s annual intake lottery. On another, it’s a passionate positioning of charter schools as the saviors of public education.

Though infinitely classier — and easier on the eyes — than “Cartel,” the recent documentary exploring public education, this latest charter-school commercial is no less one-sided. Virtually relinquishing the floor to Ms. Moskowitz (who delights in vilifying the “thuggish” tactics of the United Federation of Teachers) and her supporters, the director, Madeleine Sackler, captures a smidgen of naysayers in mostly unflattering lights. Ignoring critical issues like financial transparency, Ms. Sackler sells her viewpoint with four admirable, striving families, each of whose tots could charm the fleas off a junkyard dog.

..."But as an avowed marketing tool for a product that depends on public money and good will, the lottery itself, with its publicly dashed dreams, may have backfired. As we see during a vitriolic public hearing on Ms. Moskowitz’s bid to open a second facility in an unused public school, pitting neighbor against neighbor for the future of their children can be a dangerous strategy.

“I don’t even go to lotteries anymore, because they break my heart,” says Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark.

There is also The Cartel. Here is a review that was given by the NYT and posted at the blog of the NYC Public School Parents.

"The Cartel" Documentary Earns an "F" from the NY Times

Clearly, the latest wave in the "education reform" movement (anti-union, pro-voucher, pro-charter, anti-tenure, pro-teacher accountability via standardized tests) is manifesting itself in high-end documentaries supported by the likes of Bill Gates. Sundance saw the release of "Waiting for Superman," with Gates at hand and even on stage for the post-showing Q&A. Then there's Bob Compton's upcoming "A Right Denied," featuring Harvard MBA, Wall Street investment manager, and KIPP Academy Charter Schools of NYC Vice-Chairman Whitney Tilson.

And just this week, "The Cartel" (about NJ public schools, particularly Camden's) hit the big screens and was reviewed on Friday for the NY Times by Jeannette Catsoulis. Actually, "reviewed" is hardly the word for what she wrote; better to say trashed, skewered, shredded, ripped, and thoroughly humiliated in every possible sense for its argumentation, presentation, and even film-making values. As a film project, she obviously rates it a total F. There's a vast (and, too often, intentional) gulf between reasoned advocacy and flat-out propaganda, although few seem really to care any more.

Catsoulis's review is so devastatingly harsh, it would be positively hilarious if it were not for the knowledge that so many of the converted will just see this as further support of their "ed reform" positions. Regardless, for those who might, like me, take some comfort in having the "emperor's clothes" publicly called out for what they really are (or should I say, aren't) by an objective reviewer with no particular stake in the issue, I have included the full text of her review below. Those wishing to try a second (and critically similar) review source, as opposed to Kyle Smith's slavish, slobbering write-up in the NY Post, try Stephen Whitty's review from the (NJ) Star-Ledger.

Here's a portion of the NYT review:

Children Left Behind
Published: April 16, 2010

A mind-numbing barrage of random television clips and trash-talking heads, “The Cartel” purports to be a documentary about the American public school system. In reality, however, it’s a bludgeoning rant against a single state — New Jersey — which it presents as a closed loop of Mercedes-owning administrators, obstructive teachers’ unions and corrupt school boards.

Blithely extrapolating nationally, the writer and director, Bob Bowdon, concludes that increased financing for public schools is unlikely to raise reading scores but is almost certain to raise the luxury-car quotient in administrator parking lots. To illustrate, Mr. Bowdon rattles off a laundry list of outrages — like a missing $1 billion from a school construction budget — and provides a clumsy montage of newspaper headlines detailing administrative graft.

There's even a film called Teached. I know nothing about it, but here is a trailer with Michelle Rhee's face showing first. She's a common factor in many of these documentaries.

Teached: The Video trailer

Public schools and public school teachers are the victims here, have no doubt. This is truly a case of big money having its way with education.

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