Saturday, October 16, 2010

Secrets Regarding The Corrupt Public Schools

By Harry Herrera

The school system possibly could be made to be exceptionally profitable, says Bob Bowdon, although exclusively at the expense of things like teachers and students. In his education documentary "The Cartel," Bowdon, a TV news reporter in New Jersey, paints a reasonably ugly impression of the institutional putridness that has resulted in pretty much incredible wastes of taxpayer money. As $400,000 is spent per classroom, but reading proficiency is alone 39% (and math at 40%), the crisis is unmistakable, which doesn't indicate it's not controversial.

At hand are two major factions in Bowdon's movie -- the villains are pretty clearly the Jersey teachers union and school board who funnel 90 cents of every dollar away from teachers' salaries and towards incidentals, including six-figure salaries for school administrators. On the other side are the supporters of charter schools -- private schools that can work outside the influence of what Bowdon calls The Cartel. In those disordered public schools, Bowdon points out, it's virtually unimaginable to fire an instructor -- so even a shoddy one has a job for life.

"'The Cartel' examines lots of distinctive aspects of public education, tenure, backing, support drops, corruption --meaning theft -- vouchers and charter schools," says Bowdon. "The idiom education documentary can sound to some like dull squared, but in fact the film itself betrays an fervid passion for the predicament of particularly inner-city children."

"The Cartel" first appeared on the festival circuit in summer 2009, appearing in theaters countrywide a year later. The film has started a lot of talk, which ought no doubt continue with the more-recent release of "An Inconvenient Truth" director Davis Guggenheim's own education expose, "Waiting for Superman." Bowdon sees the two documentaries as taking dissimilar approaches to the similar predicament, "The Cartel" by examining public policy and "Superman" focusing on the human-interest aspects. "The two films make parallel conclusions," Bowdon says.

The left-brained tactic means arguments that observe the economics -- money misspent, opportunities wasted. Though he calls it left-brained, still "The Cartel" reaches some heartbreaking moments of emotion. The weeping face of a youthful girl who learns she was not selected for a place at a charter school makes its own strong controversy for the unsatisfactory failure of a state's education system.

It's difficult to watch a film about corruption in Jersey and not think of the mob, but it's also unambiguous that this is a national crisis seen through a tight lens. A viewer anyplace in the country will discern similar failings in their own school system, and may share Bowdon's frustration and eagerness for a resolution. The one he seems to be most behind is the charter schools, which take the reins from the unions and give them back to the taxpayer. Nevertheless he also knows it'll be an upward struggle to regain control from those who've worked so intense to make education very profitable for the very few.

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