Director: Bob Bowdon
Running Time: 1:30
Release Date: 4/16/10 (limited); 4/30/10 (wider)
Review by Mark Dujsik | April 29, 2010
producer, reporter, and anchor Bob Bowdon joins the reactionary bandwagon of
criticizing government spending for the public good.
Unlike some of his higher-profile contemporaries, Bowdon avoids vitriol
and sound bites intent on riling up viewers and establishing easy-to-digest
actually uses facts from statistics and budgets in The Cartel. There are
numbers in the film (oh, so many numbers), and they point to a clear disconnect
between the reasoning for spending money on education and where those dollars
actually end up.
his home state of New Jersey as a template, Bowdon argues that funding for
education is excessive and only a fraction of it has a direct impact on
students. The suspects are the
usuals: corrupt politicians, teachers' unions, and the sacred cow status imposed
upon anything related to education.
of Bowdon's jumping off points is the contradiction in salaries between teachers
and the superintendents of school districts, the latter making more than double
a yearly income than the people entrusted with teaching kids.
Most of the state's education budget goes toward administrative costs,
ensuring that a lot of people have jobs that might not be that useful in the
Jersey, it seems, has some really big problems intrinsic in its education
infrastructure. Maryland has 24
school districts; New Jersey has 616. Even
taking into account that Maryland is smaller in population (by 3 million) and
density, the difference is discouraging.
insists that the problems within the educational system in the Garden State is a
microcosm of the rest of country, which is perhaps his weakest point of
contention simply because of the time spent on New Jersey's system, but yes, to
a degree, he has a point (The recent proposed budgetary cuts to education in the
state shows that some other people noticed, too).
The facts presented in this case are surely enough to encourage one to
investigate their own state's budget for administrators with low- or no-show
unions are not shown in a favorable light, but then again, the logic of the
union spokesperson makes no rational sense when presented with cases of
suspected abuse and a rhetorical disregard for teachers over the necessary
existence of the union. Good
teachers go unrewarded, are discouraged by making the same amount of money as
someone who doesn't do as much work, and sometimes even leave the profession.
Tenure status ensures that even the worst stick around, even one teacher
who revealed he was illiterate after teaching for 17 years (Ironically enough,
he taught English).
interviews and news clips are well chosen, and give Bowdon credit for using the
graphic of a chalkboard to much better and more honest effect than another
conservative mouthpiece uses real ones.
solutions are, like his targets, typical. A
voucher program would give parents the option to move their children into a
private school, and the loss of enrollment would force the public ones to
reevaluate and better themselves, which Bowdon displays using crude,
stick-figure drawings. Charter
schools are also important to his answer, and even though kids inconsolably cry
after not being selected from a lottery of potential students, New Jersey
refuses to open more based on, according to some who applied for the status,
minor mistakes or oversights on the application.
wants us to believe, and makes a good case for, the system and all its parts
working together to ensure the system and its parts continue on the set course
without any interruption. Agree with
his solutions or not, but the evidence for a major problem is there.
Just don't suggest to him that the problem might be a lack of a unified,
national education system.
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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