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 film explores the debate surrounding the education reform movement and highlights the opposition from the teachers' unions to charter schools, and the contest between charter and public schools for building space.
The Lottery, Madeleine's first documentary sparked a renewed debate on the future of public education and was shortlisted for the 2011 Academy Awards.
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