This Friday a movie opens nationwide about parents seeking to transform their school in Pittsburgh. It’s called “Won’t Back Down.” It negatively depicts teachers and their unions and is being used to push parent-trigger legislation. Here’s a link to one bit of coverage on the New York City premiere. Here’s a parent’s take on the premiere.
But since the film is more about parents,here’s what the group Parents Across America has to say. Here’s a link to their full statement. Here’s an excerpt:
The idea of “choice” has been manipulated by corporate reformers and spread by groups like (the American Legislative Exchange Council), who seek to use methods such as the Parent Trigger to turn public schools over to privately-managed charters. This is not real choice; nor is it parent empowerment. Most parents want to see their neighborhood public schools strengthened, with small classes and less emphasis on standardized testing. Even Ben Austin, head of the Parent Revolution, has admitted that most parents are not interested in turning their school into a charter, but would rather focus on improving their existing public schools.
Or you can read what parent Rita Solnet wrote after watching the film here.
I always like to know what education historian Diane Ravitch’s views are on an educational policy. You can read a full list of concerns with this kind of legislation here. Here’s an excerpt:
A parent trigger — a phrase that is inherently menacing — enables 51 percent of parents in any school to close the school or hand it over to private management. This is inherently a terrible idea. Why should 51 percent of people using a public service have the power to privatize it? Should 51 percent of the people in Central Park on any given day have the power to transfer it to private management? Should 51 percent of those riding a public bus have the power to privatize it?
Public schools don’t belong to the 51 percent of the parents whose children are enrolled this year. They don’t belong to the teachers or administrators. They belong to the public. They were built with public funds. The only legitimate reason to close a neighborhood public school is under-enrollment. If a school is struggling, it needs help from district leaders, not a closure notice.
Here’s a recap of what’s going on in California, one of the first states to pass a law like the one portrayed in the film.
Do you intend to see the film? Have you seen it already? What do you think?