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The Cartel Examines New Jersey Schools
posted by: Alix | December 21, 2010, 02:27 PM   

Throughout the summer and fall, the whole country has been talking about education and education reform. Everyone from Oprah to AAE's own Gary Beckner have been talking about movies like Waiting for "Superman" as groundbreaking films that challenge our perceptions of education in America. One film about the state of education in New Jersey has been receiving critical acclaim, yet has not received the kind of national media attention of "Superman". The Cartel, out on DVD this week, is a chilling portrayal of education in the Garden State.

"The movie so succinctly, and so colorfully lays out what went on in the New Jersey education system that it's not only really informative and really has helped me, but it's also really entertaining on top of it," said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The film, an investigative report on the New Jersey school system, received critical acclaim when it was released in select U.S. cities in April. Among its many awards are the 2009 Audience Award at the Hoboken International Film Festival, the 2010 Audience Award at the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival, and the Visionary Award and Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2010 Washington D.C. Independent Film Festival.

The film examines the culture of corruption in the New Jersey school system by showcasing video clips of politicians and examining school budgets with abnormally high administrator salaries and unaccounted for dollars. The film is yet another critique of the adults involved in the process, particularly the New Jersey teacher's union.

Filmmaker Bob Bowden even managed to interview NJEA President Joyce Powell, who answered hot-topic questions relating to tenure and alternative education. "The beauty of it is they can never claim I took her comments out of context," said Bowdon. "I let her express her answers to questions about things like tenure and charter school lotteries. You don't have to manipulate the words of these people – they're actual beliefs."

Still, despite the back and forth between adults, truly emotional scenes with parents and children steal the show, much like in "Superman".

"I don't know where the money's going," said one parent in the film whose child attended an under-performing school. "The equipment is destroyed, there's graffiti everywhere."

At a time when education reform is taking center stage, movies like The Cartel will serve the public well in examining the crisis and continuing the conversation about what we can do to help schools.

Have you seen the movie or do you plan on seeing the movie?
Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Melanie_H, December 22, 2010

I am glad that films like this are available to get the point across to everyone. It does seem like a mystery. I mean, really, where is all the money going? Can they not budget like normal every-day families have to? I think that there may be some people who are more concerned with their high paychecks than they are educating the children. I am not talking about the teachers, they do not get paid enough, I am talking about their bosses poker sites

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