The Lottery — A Film on the Harlem Success Academy and Charter Schools

| April 2, 2010 | 1 Comment


The Lottery is a feature-length documentary that explores the struggles and dreams of four families from Harlem and the Bronx in the months leading up to the lottery for Harlem Success Academy, one of the most successful schools in New York City. The four families cast their lots in a high-stakes draw, where only a small minority of children emerges with a chance at a better future. The vast majority of hopefuls will be turned away.

Directed by Madeleine Sackler and shot by award-winning cinematographer Wolfgang Held (Brüno, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Children Underground), The Lottery delves into the 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.

The Lottery interlaces the families’ stories with the emotional and highly politicized battle over the future of American education. A call to action to avert a catastrophe in the education of American children, The Lottery makes the case that any child can succeed.


Geoffrey Canada is the President and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.” In 2005, he was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and World Report.

Cory Booker is the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He is a member of numerous boards and advisory committees that are committed to education including: Democrats for Education Reform, Columbia University Teachers’ College Board of Trustees, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

Candice Fryer is a teacher at Harlem Success Academy 2.

Betsy Gotbaum was New York City’s Public Advocate from 2001 to 2009.

Meredith Gotlin is the principal of PS29 in the Bronx.

Joel Klein has been the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education since 2002. As Chancellor, he oversees 1.1 million students, the largest public school system in the country.

Jim Manly is the principal of Harlem Success Academy 2.

Eva Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of Success Charter Network, which runs the Harlem Success Academies. She served as the Chair of the Education Committee for New York’s City Council from 2002 to 2005.

Jessica Reid is a teacher at Harlem Success Academy 2.

Susan Taylor was editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine from 1981 to 2000. Ms. Taylor was called “the most influential black woman in journalism today” by American Libraries in 1994. She founded the National CARES Mentoring Movement, whose goal is to recruit one million adult mentors.

Dacia Toll is the President and co-CEO of Achievement First, which runs seventeen charter schools in Connecticut and New York.

Paul Tough is an editor at the New York Times Magazine. He has written extensively on poverty, education, and the achievement gap. He is the author of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America.


Date and Time: April 10th at 1:00 pm

Location: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard at 135th Street

Price: Free


To view the movie trailer, click here.

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