By Ayana Smith, Guest Blogger
It’s me again. I had the opportunity to attend a screening of “Won’t Back Down,” starring Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Holly Hunter. The movie is said to be inspired by actual events in California and the even more recent takeover debate of a school in Adelanto, California shows that this is a debate that may be long overdue. Viola Davis portrays teacher, Nona Alberts, who is convinced by Gyllenhaal’s character, a single mother, to join her in “taking over” the school where her daughter attends. Her daughter, Mhalia, is dyslexic and in the 2nd grade and is unable to read. Mhalia’s teacher does not do anything to help her and is unwilling to stay after school to assist in any form of tutoring.
There are laws in force in some counties and states, called “Parent Trigger” laws. Although this form of education reform is radical at best, parents band together to sign petitions, along with teachers, to (mild put it) takeover a school. They can force a school to close, fire teachers and/or principals that are bringing it down, and reopen under an independent charter.
In the movie, TAP – the teacher’s union – is the biggest hurdle for Davis and Gyllenhaal. It is told to their characters that even if they got enough signatures on the petition, they would still need to complete a 400 page document and request a hearing date – all of which would take months. And even if they got a hearing, they would still be denied. This is a movie about education reform and policy debate. No matter your stance, I think this movie will open your eyes to some of the differences with education reform. But realize this is Hollywood – do your own research!!! See how you feel about it! The movie opens nationwide on September 28, 2012. Until next time!