One of the most upsetting movies of 2010 was a documentary about, of all things, education, according New Yorker movie critic David Denby. Waiting for Superman by Davis Guggenheim is the harrowing story of five low-income families fighting to get high-quality educations for their kids.
Among them was Nakia, a single mother in Harlem who just wants better for her 6-year-old daughter Bianca. “I don’t care what I have to do. I don’t care how many jobs I have to obtain. But she will go to college."
As Nakia and the other parents see it, if they want their kids to go to college, getting into a good charter school is the first step. But as Waiting for Superman shows, getting into a good charter school is hard. Demand outstrips supply by staggering ratios. Some kids get in, many don't. But then what?
The consequences of not getting an education are interwoven into the narratives of the five families. As the trailer to the film explains: "In America right now, a kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. These drop-outs are eight times more likely to go to prison, 50 percent less likely to vote, more likely to need social welfare assistance, not eligible for 90 percent of jobs, are being paid 40 cents to the dollar earned by a college graduate, and continuing the cycle of poverty."
Now, a new charter school in New York City has created a school lottery that favors needy children. The school, Children’s Aid College Prep, will open in late August. "The school is designed for children in particularly difficult circumstances, and will provide services like medical care, food, parent support and counseling," reports the New York Times.
"Like other charter schools with more applicants than seats, College Prep will determine its admissions by lottery. More than 500 applied for the 60 spots in kindergarten and 60 in first grade. But this lottery ... was slightly different, with extra weight given to children with high needs."