Toward the end of The Cartel, a new documentary about school choice, a Newark mother runs out of the room to shout "God is an awesome God!" She leaves the room because she doesn't want to rub her good fortune in the faces of dozens of weeping children and stoic parents around her. Her child has just won, by lottery, a slot at North Star Academy Charter School and thus escaped the state's expensive, execrable public school system.
Focusing on New Jersey, which spends more per pupil than any other state, The Cartel has some striking moments: a tally of luxury cars in the board of education parking lot, the union president justifying her defense of a teacher who hit a kid in anger by saying that "everyone deserves a second chance." But the litany of corruption and defeat is mostly just a depressing reminder of how rare salvation for students still is, even after decades of toil by would-be reformers.