Michael Moore he’s not, Lerone Wilson insists.
But the 23-year-old documentarian says his film about the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has elicited passions from many who have viewed the trailer on his Web site, boondogglefilms.net.
“Some people said, ‘I can’t believe you’re out there trashing NCLB,’ ” he said, while others believe he is defending the law.
In fact, the 56-minute film, “No Child Left Behind,” which includes scenes and interviews from schools in New York City and Michigan, explores both the pros and cons of the federal school accountability law signed by President Bush in January 2002, he said.
“There are a lot of problems teachers are having with regards to basing their results on a single standardized test, there are some funding issues, issues with poorer children, special needs children,” Mr. Wilson said in an interview last week.
Mr. Wilson, who has made several documentaries, said he was inspired to make “No Child Left Behind” by his experiences tutoring children in New York City’s PS 217, in a blue-collar community on Roosevelt Island, in the 2003-04 school year.
“I tried very hard not to have a definitive conclusion about [the federal law],” Mr. Wilson said. “I wanted it to stay as unbiased as possible, but the viewer should come away from it knowing that it has done some good things, but at the same time, there are a few problems.”
On the plus side, he said, “there is data saying that No Child Left Behind is closing some achievement gaps, raising some test scores, and the biggest thing is bringing the subject of education to the forefront.”
The film will have its theatrical premiere in New York on Sept. 25. It has also appeared on public television in Detroit.
The film’s message is, “we’re doing something good, but it can be so much better if …,” Mr. Wilson said, leaving viewers to complete the sentence for themselves.
A version of this article appeared in the September 14, 2005 edition of Education Week