September 2012 Issue
September 06, 2012

Film ignores reality in favor of stereotypes

Author: NYSUT United staff
Source: NYSUT United

The movie "Won't Back Down," which opens Sept. 28 in theaters nationwide, tries to tell a real story — how to best provide a quality education for America's childen. Yet, instead of depicting the true and meaningful ways parents and educators are working together, the filmmaker resorts to falsehoods and stereotypes that cast teachers and their unions as villians.

"I don't recognize the teachers portrayed in this movie, and I don't recognize that union," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who has seen the film. "The teachers I know are women and men who have devoted their lives to helping children learn and grow and reach their full potential."

The movie is produced by 20th Century Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch, and Walden Media, owned by Philip Anschutz, which also produced "Waiting for Superman." Both men are steeped in right-wing politics, anti-unionism and efforts to privatize education.

Here are some talking points to counter the backlash:

  • Teachers and their solution-driven unions are not the problem. A recent survey by Education Sector, an independent think tank, shows that states with the highest density of unionized teachers lead the nation in student achievement.
  • Real parent engagement means establishing meaningful ways for parents to be partners in their children's public education from the beginning — not just when a school is failing.
  • There are no silver bullets. Real improvements to public schools take inclusion, trust and collaboration among all stakeholders — parents, teachers, students and administrators.