Compton is a successful high-tech entrepreneur who made himself into an first-rate polemicist. His one-hour documentary film, “Two Million Minutes,” pushes our most sensitive cultural buttons. He argues that kids in India and China are studying much harder than U.S. students. In the film he chronicles two fun-loving teens in Carmel, Ind., an affluent Indianapolis suburb, and shows how little attention they pay to their homework compared to two students of similar age in China and two in India.
I interviewed Compton and responded to his film twice, in a Feb. 11 column and in a piece in the spring issue of the Wilson Quarterly. I confessed I, too, was distressed to see, in his film, Carmel High’s Brittany Brechbuhl watching “Grey’s Anatomy” on television with her friends while they were allegedly doing their math homework. I said I agreed we had to fix our high schools, not because of the threat of international competition but to end the shame of having millions of low-income students drop out and fail to get the education they deserve. I said I admired Compton’s consistency in insisting that his daughters spend more time on their studies just as he wants all American teens to do.