Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gotta' plug a film... "The Lottery"

As y'all long time visitors to Andy's Place know, I do not watch films much.  I normally fall asleep, or find something better to do.

But, I am going to plug a film...even though I have not seen it yet.  Weird, huh?  The other night as I was dozing off, I decided to channel surf, and came across an interview being done on C-SPAN by Brian Lamb with a young lady who had made a documentary film called, "The Lottery."

A few things caught my attention, and caused me to watch the interview and to stay up later than normal doing so.  The term "charter school" was used, and a little film clip showing ACORN folks going bat guano crazy because some white gal dared to try to put one in Harlem caused me to perk up and watch.

The interview was quite fascinating.  It seems that this young lady, Madeleine Sackler (who is younger than my two oldest sons) had set out to document the phenomenon known as "The Lottery," where parents hope against hope, and pray with all their might that their child will be "lucky" enough to attend one of the newly formed "charter schools" in New York City...and not be left to the utter failure of the current public school system.

It is quite long, but many clips from the documentary are shown, and many quite eye-opening revelations were made about just how desperate the Teachers Union in New York, and the politicians that are beholden to them are to make certain that students continue to fail in real life. I just discovered I can embed the video. If you are interested, you can watch it.

It was quite sad to watch in a way.  And, it was enraging in another.  When you see a group of Teachers, and parents stand in the auditorium of a school where 70% of the children can not perform at their grade level, and scream, and holler, and become apoplectic over the very idea that they are doing something wrong...well, it made my blood burl!

And then when you see the right-thinking people of Harlem hoping with all their might that their child's name is drawn in The Lottery...well, it really tears you up.  What I found most interesting about this interview was that this young lady Documentress sounded quite liberal in many ways.  But, her experiences had truly opened her eyes to the stranglehold that the Teacher Unions have on the failed system in which they are employed.

Maybe I'm putting words in her mouth.  But, that's the impression I was left with.

The film is out this month in limited engagements, and it will be available on DVD soon.  You can see a short trailer at their website.

I think what enraged me most was a particular clip from the film where New York City Council members were grilling the lady that was proposing the school.  She had already been quite successful with 4 other projects in New York (I think it was 4).  And, she had herself served on this same panel at one time as a Councilwoman (I think that's right...but don't quote me).  She was an attractive middle-age white lady, and made mention that she had grown up in Harlem...lived in Harlem...and wanted to make it a better place.

At one point, a member of the Board damn near called her a liar.  Well, in fact she did as much, until another Council member stepped in to vouch for the fact that he did know for certain that this lady lives in Harlem, etc.  I'll swear, the lady setting up the school did take proper offense to being called a liar...and she held it together way better than I would have.  I mean, I'd have been across the room at that rotten bitch so fast that...well...

It made me mad.

This is not something that most of us do not already know.  It was just a fascinating interview to watch, and I'm looking forward to the DVD.


  1. I wrote a long response to some other of your blog posts some time ago now....

    Basically, my observation about why people act this way.

    It comes down to the fact that if you blame others for your failure (individual, group, race, country, etc.) then you don't have to change. If the cause of failure is external, it isn't your fault, and you don't need to do anything but rail against the environment for change.

    I pointed out that this is what the Islamic troubles are all about. If you blame the Great Satan, you don't have to examine your own situation and make changes.

    It is only when people take responsibility (individuals, groups, nations, etc.) that they are able to take the actions that result in development and success.

    Don't blame everyone else, look at what you need to do....

  2. Dude, these kinds of things make me hate Democrats more and more.

  3. I'm too down today to watch -- maybe later. Plus, I lived through a few years of school assignment "experiments" in Little Rock when my girls were young -- don't want to re-open old wounds right now!

  4. Andy, you know I'm a retired educator and worked in the higher ed (!) corner of that cesspool for years. The unions and the education lobby in league with the Democratic party have pretty much destroyed the American public education system. Harlem and other places like DC are the worst, but almost any city school system suffers from some of the same kinds of incompetence. I actually think many of the rural schools that don't have a lot of money are doing the best job.

  5. Dan: You forgot Detroit. The state of Michigan took over the Detroit school system about two weeks ago because of massive failure.

    Andy: I'll watch this once I get off the road. But let me say this about C-SPAN in general: it's a National Treasure. Brian Lamb is in my B-rank of heroes. The A-rank is reserved for Reagan and a couple of hockey players. And my ex-wives.

  6. Wow. Good catch. I wouldn't mind seeing that.

    Is it just me, or is the filmaker chick kinda sexy? Nice brown eyes.

  7. Unions, were initially organized to prevent labor of becoming prey to greedy business interests, or subjective employer preferences. Now they have become the devourers.
    Most teachers that I talk to are unaware of what their dues are being used for, in addition; they don't even know that there is a public ruckus or distrust of teacher's unions presently.
    When I tell them, they are embarrassed as I am about being painted with one broad brush.
    If one wants to get a snap shot of the bad teachers, then go to a school staff meeting or a district in-service. They will be the ones talking, texting, or inattentive during a presentation. A pattern of those with a poor work ethic, and is a behavior, btw, they would bitterly complain of if it were done by their students, and used as a reason for poor student performance.
    That part is true.
    A close friend of mine returned to Atlanta and got an eye opener. Miss Johnson took a job in a low SES school, 90% black. She was one of the only two white teachers there. She said the teacher's behavior was worse than the kids, and left for two reasons. One, she was ostracized by the other teachers, and two, she flat out didn't want to be counted with that group of un-professionals.

  8. Nancy, thank you for chiming in, and for the link to that site.

    I thought that you might be able to identify with some of this. As a side note, a couple of others that have left comments here are also educators, such as yourself.

    It is a sad state of affairs. It is a crying shame that Teachers (like you) pour their lives in to their profession, while so many are just so wrong...either motive, ability, etc.

    That is a truly sad about your friend that went to Atlanta...and I certainly understand how it can be embarrassing to be categorized as "one of them."

    Truthfully, we have been blessed here where we live with very fine teachers for our sons in the public schools. Oh, there have been two or three that I'd gripe about...but very few, really.

    It's just such a shame that schools (especially urban schools) consume so much money, perform so poorly, and their protective unions stain the good gals & guys like you all.

    I'm not one of those that EVER would be in the "blame it on the Teacher" crowd. I know that (especially) in urban areas the kids show up with almost ZERO hope of ever amounting to anything, due to their circumstances. And, I can even understand the complacency that teachers may fall into because of it.

    Regardless, for some reason this interview, and the clips of the documentary REALLY "got" me.

    Thanks, kiddo.


Don't cuss nobody out, okay?