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Fwd: I Am A Public School Parent and I Won⠀™t Back Down (Sorry Maggie!)

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  • Dr. Lapin
    For supporters of public schools, supporters of private schools, supporters of charter schools. Did I miss anyone? Oh, I suppose there s something in this
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 28, 2012
      For supporters of public schools, supporters of private schools, supporters of charter schools. Did I miss anyone? Oh, I suppose there's something in this review for home schoolers, too. Or maybe not. But it's not anti-home schooling. How's that?


      skype: dr.lapin

      As Canadian born intellectual Naomi Klein tweeted after the recent student victory in Quebec, “this is why radical movements are mercilessly mocked. They can win.”

      I Am A Public School Parent and I Won’t Back Down (Sorry

      By Robin Dutton-Cookston
      September 12, 2012

      Last night I went to a media screening of the new film
      Won’t Back Down, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola
      Davis with Holly Hunter.

      I’ll get right to the point, y’all.

      I love you anyway, Maggie!
      Here are some things that are good about this film:

      The protagonists are charming and believable. (With the
      exception of the obligatory love-interest male teacher
      who was allegedly from Texas yet had a NY accent. Not

      The story centers around two mothers who are both in
      challenging situations and who are willing to risk it
      all to help their children have a better life. I get
      that. I understood the characters’ motivations and I
      rooted for them to succeed.

      Maggie Gyllenhaal is her usual adorable, dimply-cheeked
      self as the working-class single mom with the heart of
      gold. She fights the good fight to help her dyslexic
      daughter. Maggie is scrappy and charming and the
      character is apparently so poor that she can’t afford
      shirts big enough to cover her cute little belly button.
      She also manages to keep her clothes on for the entire
      movie–which probably falls more into the category of
      things that are less good about this film now that I
      think about it.

      Viola Davis portrays a depressed public school teacher
      and a parent facing her own demons. She is terrific in
      this role, and I enjoyed seeing the grace and dignity
      that we have come to expect from this talented actor.
      She delivers an earnest scoop of hope to a bummer public
      school, and, yes, she also corners the market on the
      whole heart-of-gold thing.

      Holly Hunter is a jaded union leader. Did I mention that
      under her tough exterior she has a heart of gold?

      I love the actors. I love the acting. (Minus the dude
      who couldn’t fake a Texas accent to save his life.) This
      is your typical feel-good, uplifting story about a
      plucky band of misfits who work their asses off and make
      positive changes in the lives of children.

      Now, (deep breath), here are some things that are not
      good about this film:

      The plucky band of misfits inflict their positive change
      by invoking the “Parent Trigger Law,” which allows
      parents to take over failing public schools and turn
      them into charter schools. They essentially bust up the
      teachers union and corporatize a public institution. The
      film hits you in the face (and slaps you on the back of
      the head and punches you in the gut and kicks you in the
      ass really, really hard with a boot) with vehement anti-
      public school propaganda.

      As a public school advocate and self-avowed annoying PTA
      lady, I had to pause several times during the film to
      pick my jaw up off the ground in disbelief. I saw this
      film the evening before helping to launch a major
      fundraising campaign at my children’s PUBLIC school. I
      saw this film after spending a day emailing and tweeting
      around with other PUBLIC school volunteers about ways to
      get California parents to vote in favor of PUBLIC
      education this November.

      I saw this film with an open mind and what I saw shocked

      The political agenda of Won’t Back Down is as naked and
      laid-out as Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary: Public
      schools are terrible. The only way to make them better
      is to take them over and turn them into charter schools.
      Oh and teachers unions are evil, greedy, spawn-of-
      Voldemort’s-demon-seed bastards. The end.

      I watched scene after scene of tacky, cheating, cruel,
      lying, selfish teachers in the union. I watched a rally
      where the pro-charter school advocates wore green
      (representing growth and hope in case you went to public
      school and don’t get symbolism) and the pro-public
      school advocates wore red (the color of blood and Satan,
      of course).

      I watched the school go from drab to fab, as grey and
      brown clothing and classrooms magically transformed into
      double-rainbows drenched in sunshine and Skittles. This
      was only after the poor children were released from the
      throat-crushing death grip of the Darth Vader teachers

      My children’s PUBLIC school (which is awesome by the
      way) was on the district closure list a few years ago.
      And what did the parents do? Did they try to take over
      the school and turn it into a charter school and force
      out all the teachers who stayed with the union? No,

      They wrote a grant and built a new playground. They
      created a tutoring program. They started creative and
      aggressive fundraising programs like DogFest to help
      bridge the gap between public school funding and unmet
      public school needs. They volunteered in classrooms and
      on the playground and in the lunchroom. They went to PTA
      meetings and School Site Council meetings. They started
      a parent Coffee Klatch to create community. They were a
      plucky band of misfits, by golly!

      Some even went as far as forming legislative advocacy
      organizations to make a difference in the lives of
      children at the state and national level.

      I’m not anti-charter school. I’m not anti-private
      school. I’m not anti-anything. But this movie distilled
      a complicated issue into simplistic, manipulative
      platitudes to the point that the conspiracy theorist in
      me wondered who the hell bankrolled the entire thing.

      So….a friend of mine helped me do a little research and
      we came up with some nifty insights. Such as the fact
      that this film is funded by Walden Media, which is owned
      by  Philip Anschutz, a right wing leader whose
      foundation has campaigned against such things as same-
      sex marriage and single parents. He is also part of the
      conservative movement that promotes school “choice” and
      privatization and corporatization of public schools.
      This film is also produced by Rupert Murdoch of Fox News

      Ah hah! The plucky band of misfits has quite the
      corporate backer!

      I’m not saying don’t see this movie. Go right ahead. But
      be ready to have an informed conversation after the
      credits roll. And try to focus on Maggie’s dimples if
      you get too angry. They are just adorable!
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