New Film Shatters the Myth that “Good” Schools
Are Found in “Nice” Neighborhoods

Not as Good as You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School is a documentary that shatters the myth that “good” schools located in “nice” neighborhoods are shielded from the education crisis that pervades schools in poor, urban areas. Using available data on school performance and interviews with parents, students, principals, and school reformers, Not as Good as You Think confirms every parent’s silent fear: that their financial sacrifice and investment in an expensive home in a “good” school district is not yielding the achievement results needed to get their kids in good colleges and good jobs.

Based on the groundbreaking book Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice released by the Pacific Research Institute in 2007, the film features Lance Izumi, one of the nation’s foremost education scholars and reformers. Not as Good as You Think takes audiences on a tour of America’s best neighborhoods—from the posh areas of Orange County, California, to the hotbed of innovation, Silicon Valley, to the lush green hills of Tennessee—to reveal that schools in America’s middle class and affluent neighborhoods are not adequately preparing kids for higher education, or even operating under widespread corruption.  The documentary also explores freedom and choice in public schools by venturing to Sweden, a socially progressive country that has successfully established school choice for all children, no matter the family’s income. 

The Book

Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice was released in 2007 to wide acclaim.  Studies show that parents are willing to purchase houses well beyond their means for what they believe is an opportunity to send their children to "good" public schools. Not as Good as You Think shows that buying a home in an expensive neighborhood doesn’t necessarily buy a "good" public school.

The book found that in nearly 300 schools in middle class and affluent neighborhoods in California, more than half of the students in at least one grade level performed below proficiency on the California Standards Test (CST)—the statewide test that assesses student grade level knowledge. Moreover, in some school districts, investigations have found cases of widespread corruption and financial mismanagement.  Many of these schools are located in California’s most affluent areas including Orange County, Silicon Valley, and the Los Angeles beach and canyon communities.  

Not as Good as You Think was the first-ever study to evaluate student performance in schools located in California’s middle-class and affluent neighborhoods. While this study focused on California, its findings received national recognition. The book was the subject of an editorial by the Wall Street Journal, as well as the basis for Lance Izumi’s appearance on CNBC’s Kudlow & Company. The authors of Not as Good as You Think gave major addresses at the Heritage Foundation, briefed staffers in the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Department of Education. Op-eds on the book’s findings have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Sun, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, and other newspapers across the country.

In California, Lance Izumi and Vicki Murray briefed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s top advisors, state legislators, legislative staff, and key education policymakers.  As a result, for the first time in six years, five school choice bills were introduced in Sacramento. The historic number of bills included an opportunity scholarship, a disability voucher, and a safe schools voucher.


The Filmmakers

Pacific Research Institute

Executive Producers Sally Pipes, Lance Izumi, Rowena Itchon

Associate Producer John Campbell, Vicki Murray, Rachel Chaney,

Not as Good as You Think is produced by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a San Francisco-based free-market think tank whose mission is to champion freedom, opportunity, and individual responsibility through free-market policies. PRI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Executive producers: Sally Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, Lance Izumi, Koret Senior Fellow and PRI Senior Director in Education Studies, Rowena Itchon, Vice President of Marketing. Associate producers: John Campbell, PRI Director of Development; Vicki Murray, Associate Director of Education Studies; Rachel Chaney, Policy Fellow in Education Studies.

Abviscous Productions

Director Nick Tucker

Cinematographer Lucas Abel

Producer Erin Michelle Kruger

Abviscous Productions, based in San Francisco, produces documentaries, feature films, commercials, and industrial films. Nick Tucker, producer and director of Abviscous Productions, is an award winning filmmaker. Among his honors include 2004 DIY Film Festival winner for Best Director and Best Picture. A graduate of the Academy of Art University, he was the only member of his graduating class to successfully direct, sell, and distribute a feature film. Previous projects include Do as I Say, Not as I Do, based on the New York Times bestseller by Peter Schweizer. Cinematographer Lucas Abel has been editing film and video for over a decade. Tucker and Abel have also collaborated on the films Fandom and The Strange Case of Carl Weber.


The Koret Foundation Funds

The Gleason Foundation

Main Cast

Lance Izumi
Koret Senior Fellow and Senior Director of Education Studies, Pacific Research Institute

Nick Tucker

Per Unckel
Governor of Stockholm, Sweden

Eric Hanushek, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution; Member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education

Eugene Hickok
Former Deputy Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education

Jorge Lopez
Principal, Oakland Charter Academy, Oakland California

Lisa Snell
Director of Education and Child Welfare, The Reason Foundation

Parents of the Capistrano School District
Lynn Baydu * Jennifer and Tony Beall * Barbara Casserly * Donna Furnis *
Jim Reardon * Michelle and Tom Russell * Mike Winsten

* * * *

Guest Appearances

Steve Barr
Founder, Green Dot Charter Schools

The Carrs
Nashville, Tennessee

A.J. Duffy
President, United Teachers Los Angeles

Delaine Eastin
Former California State Superintendent for Public Instruction

James Lanich, Ph.D.
President, California Business for Education Excellence

Harris Luu
Principal, Oscar de la Hoya Charter High School

Vicki Murray, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow in Education Studies, Pacific Research Institute

John E. Stone
President, Education Consumers Foundation
Professor of Educational Psychology, East Tennessee State University

Herbert Walberg, Ph.D.
Distinguished visiting fellow of the Hoover Institution; member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education, and a University Scholar, University of Illinois at Chicago

In Sweden

Damien Brunkner
Academic Coordinator, Internationella Engelska Skolan

Peter John Fyles
CEO, Internationella Engelska Skolan

Britt-Marie Mellberg
Instructor, Via Emilia School

Maria Rankka
President, TIMBRO, Stockholm, Sweden

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