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The Cartel

The Cartel
Red apple on top of stack of money on desk in front of a classroom blackboard.  Blackboard reads "education + politics = $"
Official poster
Directed by Bob Bowdon
Produced by Jen Wekelo
Written by Bob Bowdon
Edited by Morgan Beatty
Vinny Randazzo
Dave Wittlin
Sam Wolfson
Bowdon Media with the Moving Picture Institute
Release date
  • October 9, 2009 (2009-10-09) (USA)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Cartel is a 2009 American documentary film by New Jersey-based television producer, reporter and news anchor Bob Bowdon, that covers the failures of public education in the United States by focusing on New Jersey, which has the highest level of per-student education spending in the U.S. According to The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), the film asks: "How has the richest and most innovative society on earth suddenly lost the ability to teach its children at a level that other modern countries consider 'basic'?" The film regards teachers' unions as the cause of the problems (they are "the cartel" of the title), due to, among other things, the obstacles they put in place to firing bad teachers, through tenure. It also makes the case for school vouchers and charter schools, suggesting that the increased competition will revitalize the school system, leading to improved efficiency and performance in all schools, both district and charter.

The film debuted at the Hoboken International Film Festival on May 30, 2009 and was awarded "Best of the Festival (Audience Award)". It opened in New York City and Los Angeles on April 16, 2010, Houston on April 23 and in Denver, Minneapolis, Boston, Washington D.C., St. Louis, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago on April 30.

The Cartel is Bowdon's first film; he left Bloomberg Television to focus on the project, and spent two years on it. The film's post production was aided by the Moving Picture Institute.

Bowdon interviewed "school administrators, teachers, parents, students and education advocates" for the film. Among the interviews are State Education Commissioner Lucille Davy, 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).



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