Reviews —

One of 2010’s most high-profile reform documentaries, “Waiting for Superman,” highlighted the plight of America’s public school system. It seemed heavy on pathos but light on real-world solutions. “The Cartel,” filmmaker Bob Bowdon’s look at American schools — particularly in New Jersey, where he worked as a TV news reporter — came out a year earlier. Yet it almost finishes the job… Read more here.

Joe Shearer

Indy Star

Bowdon helped “to set the stage for a year of reform, and a year of reform movies” with The Cartel... Read more here.

John Koppisch

Forbes Magazine

[The Cartel is] a brisk, incisive and mind-boggling – no other phrase will work – exposé… Read more here. Kevin Thomas

L.A. Times

What Bowdon has brought to light so vividly…applies across the land. Read more here.

Kevin Thomas

Chicago Tribune

I prefer the strong-voice narration that director Bowdon provides The Cartel to the more passive style of Waiting for Superman… Read more here.

Gene Epstein


Coherent, frequently clever and engaging… Read more here.

Howard Blume

L.A. Times

This is a movie you need to see… Watch it here.

Joe Scarborough

MSNBC's Morning Joe

An alarming portrait of a state that pours more money into its public schools than any of the other 49 and yet continues to turn out underperforming students with substandard educations…New Jersey taxpayers, and the state’s political leaders, need to see this documentary… Read more here.

Steven Rea

Philadelphia Inquirer

I prefer the strong-voice narration that director Bowdon provides The Cartel to the more passive style of Waiting for Superman… Read more here.

National School Choice Week Blog

The Cartel is a revelation… Read more here.

Kyle Smith

The New York Post

In “The Cartel,’’…the causes and consequences of the failings of public education are chronicled in extraordinary detail… Read more here.

Brian MacQuarrie

Boston Globe

One notable school absence in New Jersey caught Bob Bowdon’s attention: $1 billion in educational funding for construction. A sum of money that could fund a summer’s worth of action movies simply disappeared prompting Bowdon…to make The Cartel, an exposé about the failings of the education system in New Jersey as well as the rest of the country… Read more here.

Andrew Dansby

Houston Chronicle

Bowdon’s strength as a documentarist is… evident in the patience and logic with which he makes an argument for a state and a system in desperate need of reform… Read more here.

Michelle Orange

The Village Voice

…Bob Bowdon comes out swinging in The Cartel… Read more here.

Hugh Hart

San Francisco Chronicle

Balancing the fact-dispensing with emotional interview footage of unhappy teachers and students, The Cartel is a convincing exposé of a nationwide system designed to favor school officials over students… Read more here.

Peter Galvin

San Francisco Bay Guardian

This movie says it all, and is a must see for any American… Read more.

Philadelphia City Paper

Challenges New Jersey’s education establishment… Read more.

Kristen Alloway


The Cartel’s comprehensive assessment of the current American school system offers the public much-needed exposure to an industry that, if reformed appropriately, will actually educate American children and make better use of our money… Read more here.

Jenny Xie

The Tech (MIT)

The Cartel mentioned among 2010 education documentaries making reform a mainstream issue, by the Weekly Standard. Read more here.

Our country’s public education system…is a giant racket… Read more here.

Tricia Olszewski

Washington City Paper

[Bob Bowdon] has managed to produce an engaging, complete account of the arguments and relevant data in the fight over school choice… Read more here. Katherine Mangu-Ward

…a tough-talking exposé… Read more.

Kathleen Carroll

The Record

Thoroughly refreshing…chilling expose’… Read more.

Kam Williams

News Blaze

Factual and fair-minded…Read more here.

J.R. Jones

Chicago Reader

The audiences laughed, gasped and hissed along with the film… Read more here.

Patrick Sullivan

Westfield Patch

This movie is just one example…of how the New Jersey teachers are now running scared. This is an excellent thing for everyone not on their gravy train… Read more here.

James Bowman

The American Spectator

It gets to the heart and soul of this controversy… Watch it here.

Mika Brezinzki

MSNBC's Morning Joe

The Cartel is garnering praise from critics and film festivals alike… Read more here.

New Jersey Herald

Is your school sub-par? Are costs for education still high? Bob Bowdon can connect the dots… Read more.

Timothy J. Carroll

Hudson Reporter

The Cartel ‘should not be missed’… Read more here.

Mark Lerner

DC Charter Schools Examiner,

Powerful documentary… Read more here.

Courier Post Online

…one of the most revealing and interesting documentaries that I have ever watched… Read more here

Victoria Yuskaitis

The Sparta Independent

More Reviews —

“This is a film that everyone can learn from, and it is important for people to understand what is really going on in education.” Read more here.
-Kevin, Review St. Louis – gave the film an ‘A’ rating!

“‘The Cartel’ is a must-see exposé…” Read more here.
-Carol Hemphill, South County Times

“…it’s a documentary you’ll want to show to everyone you know with wide eyes and a newfound agenda for education reform.” Read more here.
-Martin Malloy, SF Station

“…anyone who is an educational policy dork should see “The Cartel,” a documentary about the almost hilariously corrupt and ineffective New Jersey educational system.” Read more here.
-Kristen Page-Kirby, Washington Post Express Night Out

Patrick McIlheran of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is interested in The Cartel buzz. Read more here.

“The film is a powerful indictment of how our schools are funded, and the politics of how those funds are allocated.” Read more here.
-Joshua Sharf,

“This factual and well-reasoned advocacy documentary presents a devastating conservative critique of public education in New Jersey and, by extension, the United States. … Bowdon makes a compelling argument against the defensive maneuvers of teachers’ unions and in favor of vouchers and charter schools, but his documentary is no exercise in free-market cant. It merely explodes the fiction that funneling more money into the same highly bureaucratized and politicized system will fix our deepening education crisis.” Read more here.
-J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader

“Bowdon started creating his film before Christie even announced he was running for governor, and he is pleased at his fortuitousness that the governor’s ongoing attempts to overhaul the state’s education system are putting issues like those covered in The Cartel in the news almost every day. Gov. Christie has also personally thanked Bowdon for making The Cartel.” Read more here.
-Bryan La Placa,

The Heritage Foundation features the film on their blog.

“Here in New Jersey, there’s probably no bigger “hot-button” issue than public education and its discontents (unions vs. politicians; public servant salaries; school choice, and the “T” word) — and there’s likely never been anything so poised to push that button than The Cartel.” Read more here.
-Tom Chesek, RedBankGreen

The Cartel is a must-see.” Read more.
-Bob Ingle,

Don’t miss this letter to the editor posted by the Daily Record, here.

“The Cartel busts at the seams with factoids…” Read more here.
-Michael Bergeron, Free Press Houston

“Bowdon combs the Garden State for stories of waste, fraud and abuse, and, as the anecdotes pile up and the statistics unfold, the schools’ gardens turn into weed patches tended by corrupt boards and self-interested union leaders.'” -Paul E. Peterson, EducationNext (Peterson appears in the film)

Teachers of Color reviewed the film here.

The AnnaZ blog features The Cartel.

Carpe Diem, Professor Mark J. Perry’s Blog for Economics and Finance, reviews the film here.

“Bowdon paints a picture of ‘rampant, pervasive, institutional’ corruption in a state that’s mired in the ‘school district business.'” Read more.
-Michael Slenske, GOOD Education

“See The Cartel, and take your kids, too.” Read more.
-Alex Adrianson, InsiderOnline

The Cartel surpasses all expectations.” Read more.
-Joe Bendel, j.b. spins

“Bowdon uses facts and data, not just emotion, to make his point.”
-Fred Snowflack,

The Cartel is a terrific documentary which vividly illuminates what school reformers already know—the ‘system’ is in trouble and teacher unions are the major problem.”
-Robert Enlow, President & CEO, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice