Two films many Illinois Republican state legislators should watch

The June copy of the Heartland Institute’s fantastic newspaper School Reform News finally was in my mail box the other day and a quick perusal of it reminded me of this terrible news from last month:

Illinois House Votes Down Voucher Bill

Bipartisan Effort Undercut by Republican Opposition

Heartland’s headline highlights the important aspect of the story – it would’ve passed if more Republican state house members had voted in line with their state party’s platform and in support of the kids.

As I wrote at the time, it was a true spectacle watching the floor debate as Democrats argued FOR school choice and Republicans argued AGAINST it.

State house sponsor of the bill, Democrat state Rep. Kevin Joyce, expressed his disappointment after the vote:

“I’ve lost bills before. That’s just part of life,” Joyce told the Chicago Sun-Times. “But these kids had a great opportunity with some really strong leadership. Today, those kids lost out because the people that are a part of that system are afraid of one little change: giving kids an opportunity to go to a better school.”

School Reform News included this important bit of information:

“Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville), a school superintendent downstate, led the opposition to the bill within the Republican caucus.”

Last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal had an article titled:

Storming the School Barricades

A new documentary by a 27-year-old filmmaker could change the national debate about public education.

Madeleine Sackler is the filmmaker, and her topic is about “New York’s biggest lottery,” – the “chance for 475 lucky kids to get into one of the city’s best charter schools.”

Sackler told the Wall Street Journal reporter:

“I was blown away by the number of parents that were there, I wanted to know why so many parents were entering their kids into the lottery and what it would mean for them.”

While making the film, she discovered that the teachers union hires “rent-a-mobs” to protest reforms, and that she had “stumbled on this political mayhem-really like a turf war about the future of public education.” Sackler told the WSJ:

“The public education system is at a crossroads. Do we want to go back to the time when children are forced to attend their district school no matter how underperforming it is? Or do we want to let parents choose what’s best for their kids and provide a lot of options? Sometimes those options might fail. But . . . I don’t see how you could choose to settle for what we’ve been doing for half a century when it’s been systemically screwing over the same kids-over and over and over.”

Visit thelotteryfilm.com to learn more about the film and to watch the trailer. Click here to read the Wall Street Journal article.

The other film is “The Cartel” directed by Bob Bowdon. The Heartland Institute recently reviewed it and described it this way:

“The Cartel is a powerful and provocative documentary about the sorry state of American education. The film … explores the many problems of the New Jersey public school system.

The film has caused quite a stir, prompting attacks from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) in particular. This highly organized and powerful group of rent-seekers called it “an orchestrated attack against public schools and the New Jersey Education Association.”

The film asks the pertinent question, “How has the richest and most innovative society on earth suddenly lost the ability to teach its children at a level that other modern countries consider ‘basic’?” It is unabashed in pointing to school choice-as opposed to endlessly increasing public school funding-as the solution.

Click here to read the Heartland Institute article.

Click here to learn more about the film: www.thecartelmovie.com.

©2010 John Francis Biver