Usa Today Analysis

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By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY At first blush, Brittany Brechbuhl and Neil Ahrendt seem American success stories: They attend Carmel High School, a gleaming glass-and-brick edifice in suburban Indianapolis, where taxpayer support buys a genetics lab, a swimming pool and a 91% graduation rate. Brittany is 28th in her class, with a nearly perfect GPA; Neil is a National Merit semifinalist and class president. OK, so they don't seem to study very hard, but they're squeaky-clean and college-bound. What could possibly be wrong with this picture? Plenty, says a new documentary making the rounds with teachers. Plenty, as in 1.1 billion people in India and 1.3 billion in China who want Brittany's and Neil's education, their prosperity and, someday,…show more content…
In another, an Indian science teacher explains an experiment to students, then snaps, "Why are you standing simply there?" But the scene that seems to get audiences worked up most shows Brittany and friends watching Grey's Anatomy as they study. "For most people, it is eye-opening," says Marc Lampkin, executive director of Strong American Schools, an advocacy group pushing to make education part of the 2008 presidential election. The group's Ed in '08 campaign has screened Two Million Minutes for educators and lawmakers, hoping to get them worked up about global competitiveness. Compton says the film is a surprise hit among high school teachers, who see in it a clear message for students: Work harder. After Sue Reynolds saw it in November, she ordered 210 copies. "The film's very compelling because you've got the data, you've got experts that are very compelling, and you also see with your own eyes what's happening in classrooms and homes in other countries," says Reynolds, executive director of the American Student Achievement Institute, a non-profit based in Columbus,

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