This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Christian Yoanson dreams of a better education in THE LOTTERY

THE LOTTERY (Madeleine Sackler, 2010)

Thursday, April 29, SVA Theater, 209 East 23rd St., 7:00

The debate over charter schools reaches a fever pitch in Madeleine Sackler’s heart-wrenching documentary, THE LOTTERY. Sackler follows the hopes and dreams of four families who have entered their children in the annual lottery for placement in Harlem Success Academy, a free public elementary school founded by former city councilmember Eva Moskowitz. Some three thousand kids are vying for 475 coveted spots at the institution, which has an outstanding track record while doing things its own way, including not playing by the complex rules of the powerful teachers union. Sackler speaks with Moskowitz, Newark mayor Cory Booker, Harlem Children’s Zone president and CEO Geoffrey Canada, New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, and several Harlem Success Academy parents, principals, and teachers, who have only glowing things to say about the charter school, especially as it fights to open another location inside PS 194, leading to an angry battle with the community that is simply mind-blowing. Also mind-blowing are many of the statistics Sackler shares about the sorry state of public education in New York City and across the country, specifically in regard to blacks and Latinos. The final scene, in which the families sit inside the Fort Washington Armory, praying that their child’s name will be called as if their entire future is dependent upon it, is not only heartbreaking but also beyond frustrating, revealing how difficult it can be for parents to find quality schooling in certain parts of the city and offer their children opportunities that they never had.

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