Opening Friday, at a theater near you, is a movie about the American educational system that is “inspired by real events.”
Interesting phrase, “inspired by real events.” One might infer that it means, “This story happened but names and locations have been changed.”
But it didn’t happen. Won’t Back Down is a made-up Hollywood concoction, brought to you by the same people who presented Waiting For Superman as a documentary.
While the people in that film were real, much of what the film had to say was false and/or misleading.
This time around, the producers have made the whole thing up, building the story around California’s “parent trigger” law. The “parent trigger” allows parents to seize control of their public schools and fire the teachers and principal, or privatize the school. All you need to know to determine whether this is intended to make public schools better is that the law is promoted by the anti-union, anti-public education group The Heartland Institute.
Criticizing a film one hasn’t seen is silly, however you do have the option of not spending money or time on an “inspired by real events” story that isn’t true. Those who’ve seen the film say that, as with Superman, teachers and their unions are cast as villains. NEA has good information here.
You won’t need to be an IEA member or employee to know that demonizing teachers and their union, claiming they are impediments to a good education, is hooey.
For 29 years, my mother worked in Chicago public schools. Lacking political clout, she was assigned exclusively to schools in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Many children came to school from homes where there was no parental support. Too many kids arrived in her classrooms underfed and under clothed. As a teacher striving to make a difference, she had a lot to overcome.
She gave it her best. She couldn’t save every student from the damage that growing up in poverty, without parental support, causes.
But she helped many. She tried to help them all.
They don’t make movies that reflect the reality of what teachers like my mother face every day. It would be too depressing. There are no easy-to-identify villains, like the one in the new movie who, instead of teaching, spends her day texting.
UPDATE: Apparently, no one wants to waste time. As Box Office Mojo reports:
In eighth place, Won’t Back Down debuted to an atrocious $921,000 from 2,515 locations. It will earn around $3 million this weekend, which will be one of the worst debuts ever for a movie in 2,500 or more theaters.
So, dear reader, what movie that has teaching and/or the importance of education at its core would you recommend for this weekend?
What’s your favorite? Please comment below.