14 June 2011

The Lost and the Captor

With the political and social climate mostly centering around The Arab Spring, oil prices, nationwide tornadoes and other natural disasters, little is said or heard about the state of education in America. Thankfully Davis Guggenheim (who brought us such insightful documentaries as An Inconvenient Truth and It Might Get Loud) took a deeper look into the flawed system of public schools and the unions and how - for decades - this system has set children in public school systems up for ultimate failure.

The 2010 documentary narrated by Guggenheim was received with much praise as well as some criticism. Lauded openly as the voice for many parents with children in the public system, the film covers the history of the public school system and the teacher's unions to whom it is essentially bound. It's stated frequently that tenure protects teachers that ultimately don't care about students progress and reminding the viewer that teachers that consistently perform well are still only compensated poorly relative to their performance.

Most criticism, however, came in the form of jeers from within the system citing that the film neglected to point out the tremendous lack of funds that schools receive each year (whether federally or on the state level).

On the (terribly overlook and often discounted) upside, the film follows a few leaders who've created charter (aka lottery) schools in which they can actually say "No Child Left Behind," a term coined by George W. Bush and has ultimately failed in a major way. These schools pay the utmost attention to students and compensate teachers appropriately. The crux, however, is that these schools are always at capacity, leaving potential students at the hand of an annual lottery drawing to see if they get in (most lotteries can only accept 10-20% of applicants).

The film, is engaging, informed, pointed, and extremely well produced and is worth the 111 minute run time. Check it out. And if you have already, post your feedback.