The Cartel might more appropriately have been titled, "Sollozzo and McClusky meet Michael" (taken from the scene in Godfather I at Louis' Italian American Restaurant in the Bronx). Sollozzo represents the union (NJEA), Captain McClusky represents non-working traditional public schools, and Michael represents school choice. These forces square off nicely, but the viewer, almost immediately, knows that the outcome of the conflict favors Michael because a gun (vouchers and charter schools) has been planted for him to kill the other two. If Michael does not kill the two, they will certainly kill his father, Don Vito (Milton Friedman).
Sollozzo and Michael speak a language that McClusky does not understand, and they use it to vie for power; however, Michael deep down knows he has to kill Sollozzo, and then McClusky because he was "a crooked cop who got mixed up in the rackets and got what was coming to him". Not all non-working traditional public schools are like McClusky, so, in a sense, it is easier to take on Sollozzo (NJEA) because it's easier to stereotype him (it) as a single bogey man. Michael fretfully stumbles upon the gun, and then shoots one bullet into Sollozzo and two bullets into McClusky, but in The Cartel it's the other way around: the union gets twice as much as the non-working traditional public schools (maybe Tom Hagen was right: "nobody has ever gunned down a New York police captain before. It would be disastrous. All the other families [parochial schools, private schools, magnet schools] would turn against you."). After killing Sollozzo and McClusky, Michael paces quickly out of the restaurant, glad that he took care of family business yet uncertain about his next move. The viewer leaves the theater feeling pretty much the same.
The missing struggle in The Cartel is how to deal with Don Barzini (New Jersey Department of Education). Don Vito didn't know until meeting with the heads of the other families that it was Barzini all along. The viewer of The Cartel does not know until the heads of twenty-two charter schools apply for a charter but only one is granted. What does this tell us about power and regulation? How does it inform us about the role and structure of effective schooling? Is there a way to avoid a baptism scene? Maybe a sequel is in order?