Oy. I may feel desperate about my children’s education from time to time. But I’ll be damned if I ever take my kids to one of these spectacles of cruelty to gain access to a better school.
I’m talking about school lotteries — now held around the country for high-performing charter schools — in which the names of chosen students are called out amidst much fanfare and tears.
These lotteries are gruesome theater. They symbolize all the unfairness about a public school system that delivers great educations for some kids, but not others. That’s probably why they serve as the climax for not one but two major education documentaries, The Lottery (to be released next week) and Waiting for Superman (to be released in September).
I’m not faulting the families that apply to these charter schools — far from it. But here’s my question: Are these public spectacles really necessary? And why are children allowed to go to them? I understand there may be laws governing how lotteries are carried out to keep them free of corruption. But these charter schools seem to be using them as political theater. Check out this clip from The Lottery, and tell me if you think these lotteries exhibit a twisted insensitivity to the majority of these kids who get dressed up, hoping to be chosen, only to go home brokenhearted.