Over the weekend I saw this movie, which is currently in limited release, and has a companion book you can get at any bookstore (yes, I already have mine). And now I am totally obsessed. Written and directed by Davis Guggenheim (Oscar winning director of "An Inconvenient Truth"), this movie focuses on the current state of our public school system. Now before you tune me out because you have heard this before and don't know what you can to to help, please stick around for a few more minutes.
The film covers the terrible statistics and test scores, the dreadful "rubber room" in NY and the "lemon dance" (where tenured but terrible teachers are shuffled around their district each year), the tensions between reformers and union leaders and most importantly, it follows 5 students who are entering lotteries to get into a charter school where they have a better chance of graduating and going on to college. Yes, there are awesome, amazing, successful public schools out there that have 90+% graduation rates. Unfortunately there are limited spaces at these schools and the only fair way to let in new students is a lottery. And the term lottery was never so appropriate. The final minutes of this movie, showing you the results of the different lotteries, is positively gut wrenching.
The companion book, which I've started but haven't finished, adds a lot to the movie. So far I've gotten to hear more from people who were featured in the 2 hour film. And I am in awe with the information and ideas overflowing from the pages.
In summary, please go see the movie, read the book, and donate to DonorsChoose.org.