The Cartel (2010) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Cartel (2010)

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Critic Consensus: Director Bob Bowdon may make some strong points in The Cartel, but they're drowned out by his grating screen presence and amateurish filmmaking.

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About The Cartel | Teachers punished for speaking out. Principals fired for trying to do the right thing. Union leaders defending the indefensible. Bureaucrats blocking new charter schools. These are just some of the people we meet in The Cartel. The film also introduces us to teens who can't read, parents desperate for change, and teachers struggling to launch stable alternative schools for inner city kids who want to learn. We witness the tears of a little girl denied a coveted charter school spot, and we share the triumph of a Camden homeschool's first graduating class.Together, these people and their stories offer an unforgettable look at how a widespread national crisis manifests itself in the educational failures and frustrations of individual communities. They also underscore what happens when our schools don't do their job. "These are real children whose lives are being destroyed," director Bob Bowdon explains.The Cartel shows us our educational system like we've never seen it before. Behind every dropout factory, we discover, lurks a powerful, entrenched, and self-serving cartel. But The Cartel doesn't just describe the problem. Balancing local storylines against interviews with education experts such as Clint Bolick (former president of Alliance for School Choice), Gerard Robinson (president of Black Alliance for Educational Options), and Chester Finn (president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute), The Cartel explores what dedicated parents, committed teachers, clear-eyed officials, and tireless reformers are doing to make our schools better for our kids.This movie will force the scales to fall from the eyes of policymakers, education officials, reformers, intellectuals, teachers, and taxpayers. Putting a human face on the harm done by the educational cartel, The Cartel takes us beyond the statistics, generalizations, and abstractions that typically frame our debates about education-and draws an unequivocal bottom line: If we care about our children's futures, we must insist upon far-reaching and immediate reform. And we must do it now. --© Official Site

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Critic Reviews for The Cartel

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (15)

With its clunky chalkboard chapters and a parade of static talking heads too often repeating the filmmaker's underlying theme of political corruption and union myopia, it's a C theatrical experience. Maybe a C+ for right intentions.

April 30, 2010 | Rating: 2/4

The film -- for which Bowdon directed, wrote, narrated, produced, operated a camera, composed music and sang -- spends a little too much time on static shots of flickering computer screens filled with gray text, and it has the look of cheap video.

April 30, 2010 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

There are plenty of legitimate grievances here, but like Michael Moore at his pushiest, Bowdon often undermines his own argument with obvious factual cherry-picking.

April 29, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Bowdon makes an insufferable first impression, and his movie often looks as if it were shot with a camera-phone (for good measure, he includes actual camera-phone footage, which admittedly looks worse than his).

April 29, 2010 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Bowdon makes a compelling argument against the defensive maneuvers of teachers' unions and in favor of vouchers and charter schools, but his documentary is no exercise in free-market cant.

April 29, 2010 | Full Review…

Watching this film, you'd think that most public schools were Mafia-run slaughterhouses and most charter schools were urban academies with high success rates. Bowdon barely mentions the religiosity and profit motive behind some charter schools.

April 29, 2010

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