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Four children enter a high-stakes lottery. If they win, they can attend one of the best schools in New York. A look at the crisis in public education, The Lottery makes the case than any child can succeed.


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Credited cast:
Candice Fryer ...
Gregory Goodwine Jr. ...
Himself - Student
Gregory Goodwine Sr. ...
Himself - Father
Laurie Goodwine ...
Herself - Mother
Betsy Gotbaum ...
Herself - NYC Elected Public Advocate
Meredith Gotlin ...
Herself - Principal
Ameenah Horne ...
Herself - Student
Nadiyah Horne ...
Herself - Mother
Joel Klein ...
Jim Manly ...
Supporting (as Wordsley)
Eva Moskowitz ...
Eric Roachford Jr. ...
Himself - Student


In a country where 58% of African American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, The Lottery uncovers the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to flee the system every year. The Lottery follows four of these families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in a charter school lottery. Out of thousands of hopefuls, only a small minority will win the chance of a better future. The Lottery uncovers a ferocious debate surrounding the education reform movement. Interviews with politicians and educators explain not only the crisis in public education, but also why it is fixable. A call to action to avert a catastrophe in the education of American children, The Lottery makes the case that any child can succeed. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You could win an education



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7 May 2010 (USA)  »

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$16,435 (USA) (11 June 2010)


$51,542 (USA) (23 July 2010)

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User Reviews

A heart-wrenching look at a flawed system
24 December 2010 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

As a child of middle-class suburbs, I was lucky enough to have access to a high-level public education that served me well and helped me successfully graduate on time and send me on my way to college. When I moved out of the suburbs and into the city, I began to realize just how fortunate I was. Every day, the newspapers would shoot statistics about failure rates, budget constraints, teacher strikes, etc. In a nation such as this, the failure of public schools not only affect how our children go through their youth. It affects what happens after, and this affects all of us.

'The Lottery,' a documentary by Madeleine Sackler, faces this problem head on by showing the story of four young children and their families as they attempt to gain access into one of the few successful public schools in Harlem, NY. The school, known as Harlem Success, is a public charter school that, due to insufficient funding, can only afford to accept small numbers of children at any given time. Therefore, entrance into the school is done through a 'lottery,' in which thousands of children are entered, but only a small portion are given enrollment.

Ms. Sackler, as the documentarian behind this story, does a fantastic job of handling both sides of the situation. She shows the struggle, the hardships, and the heartbreak that goes along with being a parent of a child forced to attend inferior school systems. She also shows the other side of the story, which (for some reason) would prefer there to be no public charter schools and only the degrading current schools. While the emotional look of the film does get rather heavy handed, it is appropriate due to the heart-wrenching subject matter. To know that only a small amount of this desperate children will be able to receive a high quality education is a truly depressing notion. It's a system that must be changed, must be fixed, and quickly. If not, it's going to just continue to get worse, sending our society further into a downward spiral.

Final Verdict: 8/10.


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