Thursday, April 29, 2010

'The Lottery' documentary shows education is a sure bet

The article goes on to recognize that studies show not all charter schools perform better than public schools, however, the private schools escape from the public regimentation and create experimentation that can discover better learning environments.

Moskowitz's schools may have found something.

"The Lottery" will create and energize charter supporters by the thousands. It conveys the desperation and urgency of urban public education better than the anti-charter forces can defend a status quo that is shockingly unfair and wholly unacceptable.

What people in well-off communities take for granted - the simple process of enrolling a child in kindergarten - takes on huge stakes in the film, which follows four Harlem families as they hope and pray (sometimes literally) for one of the scarce kindergarten slots in one of Moskowitz's schools, allocated by lottery.

Some charters - privately managed public schools with the power to alter their hours, work rules, budgets and curriculum - are scoring significantly better on standardized tests than the regular public schools around them.

Beyond scores, there's the look and feel of learning. You know it when you see it.

I (Errol Louis) have spent most of my life in one school or another. As a student, I've attended Catholic school in Harlem, public school in Westchester and earned degrees from Harvard, Yale and Brooklyn Law. As a college professor, I've spent at least one semester a year for the past decade teaching graduate and/or undergraduate students at Pace, Pratt, NYU, Long Island University and Hunter College.

I've visited Moskowitz's schools, sat in on classes and talked with her students. Anybody familiar with high-performing learning environments can tell within a few minutes that she's on to something that other educators should study and try to copy.

That's easier said than done. In Harlem and other communities, outstanding performance by charters has provoked envy, resentment and an organized backlash by teachers unions.
Read Daily News article here.

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