One of the areas of life that I’m most passionate about is education and, these days, education reform. If you read through the entries on this blog, you’ll see that I hate the very idea of a student going to a school that isn’t educating them properly or efficiently. One of the reasons why I’ve become so impassioned about education reform is because I spend most of my working on charter school financial products to help them do what the traditional public school bureaucracy can’t seem to accomplish – educate students.
I’m glad that there are more movies and, specifically, documentaries coming out about what’s going on in the inner cities with respect to education. One of the better movies to come out is The Cartel. And while I understand that there are two sides to every story, my gut reaction to the entire education reform and the school choice movement is that one option works and one option fails. Put all of the phony baloney math and statistics aside and look at the results – the overwhelmingly vast majority of charter schools in inner city school districts (and the suburbs for that matter) are tremendous successes while the traditional public schools are failures.
The Cartel tries to give us some reasons why this phenomenon occurs. Here is some information that director Bob Bowdon posted on The Huffington Post regarding his movie and education reform:
Education status quo defenders routinely call school choice “simplistic,” and they mean it in the bad way.
Their bullet points go like this:
The problems of American education are dizzyingly complex. There are issues of absentee parents, bad nutrition, and cultural breakdown. There’s an entertainment culture beckoning our kids to hours of videos games, television shows and gross out YouTube videos. Throw in a diminished economy where even some of the best students can’t find work after graduation, and you get a whiff of the enormous complexity. Why on earth do these reformers believe that (Insert: school choice, charter schools, vouchers, scholarships) would be some magic pill to cure this swirling array of ills? These fixes are simplistic.
Indeed, for many of these people, the very concept of “complexity” is comforting. They believe the best solutions to social problems strike ornate compromises between a wide variety of stakeholders, each of which need carefully designed provisions to preserve their interests.
If they hear news of a 2,000 page health care bill passed by the House (that most Representatives don’t read), they shrug and say, “What’s the problem?” If the 9,400 page federal tax code has obvious loopholes, they want to add more pages to plug them. If a 165-page teachers’ contract spells out the Monday through Thursday workday as six hours, 57 minutes, and 30 seconds, and the rest of us say, “are you kidding me?” — they say, “so?”
Running deep in their psyches: “Complexity is for smart people.”
What they forget is that all the great causes in American history were based on simple questions. Should slavery be legal, or not? Should women have the right to vote, or not? Should we remove our troops from Vietnam, or not? Of course entire libraries of scholarship can be collected about intricacies of these issues; yes, we’re aware of that. The point is that the decisions can all be boiled down to elegantly uncomplicated questions.
Parental school choice, in fact, is a simple concept, and just like movements for abolition, suffrage or withdrawal from Vietnam, its simplicity doesn’t make it a bad idea.
I encourage you to read through Bowdon’s entire post over at the other website. And if you have the inclination, I encourage you to buy or rent The Cartel to see what’s going on in the school choice movement today!