Let me preface this by saying that I’m a product of the public school system. I am a huge fan of the teachers that taught my daughters in kindergarten, first grade, and third grade. Last year, we discovered that the system fails when bad teachers, power-trip driven teachers, and administrators are enabled by a tenured, political system. When the system is broken, it’s all about protecting their own positions and bullying parents to be silent. It’s a system so blatantly anti-child and anti-parent that it neglects the entire purpose of education: the children.
When I was offered the chance to screen Won’t Back Down, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, I jumped at it.
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis play two determined mothers, one a teacher, who will stop at nothing to transform their children’s failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children.
I was moved. I was inspired. I left believing that every parent, every good teacher, who teaches for the kids, needs to see this movie. There’s a very stark moment from the union boss when Holly Hunter asks him, “what about the kids?” He tells her that the union will care about the kids when they start paying dues.
A teacher who hits, belittles, and spends his time on his phone and computer, not teaching, merely gets a slap on the hand, because he pays union dues. The kids that were hit, pushed, belittled, and wasted a whole year, were told by the principal that the teacher did no such thing, that they were mistaken, and instead of a sincere apology, they tried to Jedi mind-trick the kids. It kills me that everyone knows who the bad teachers are, yet, they are granted job security and tenure.
We are our kids’ only advocates. Being known as the “nice mom” who rolls over, or will kow-tow to the whims of the school system, is not a compliment. It just means the system has identified who they can walk all over.
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As parents, we can’t afford to be silent. We can’t afford to play nice when something is not right. We can’t afford to be selfish and keep silent in hopes our kid, our family, doesn’t get black-listed for standing up for truth. We are in this together. When one child is maligned, when corrupt administrative politicians choose to misuse their power, when parents are afraid to speak up, that is when the system must be overturned and repaired.
Won’t Back Down ought to be the match that lights a fire in all of us. We can no longer afford the toll that corrupt unions, administrative politicians, and plain horrible but tenured teachers place on our already strained education system.
The great teachers of the world, and parents who care, need to band together and stand up, and stand against the status quo that only continues to weaken our children. We must rise together, and shout that we won’t back down.
Won’t Back Down opens in theaters, September 28th.
The film is inspired by the work of dedicated parents, teachers and advocates across the country.
I was given two tickets to the screening of Won’t Back Down. All opinions, and inspired activism are my own.