"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Parent Trigger Gets Hollywood Treatment

A new movie is coming out this September from the same people who brought you Waiting for Superman. It's called, Won't Back Down.

NEAToday is predictably negative about it...
‘Won’t Back Down’: Parent Trigger Gets the Hollywood Treatment

This September, just as Oscar season is heating up, the film “Won’t Back Down” will hit the theaters, promising to tell the inspiring story of a teacher and a parent – Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal – who join forces to transform their kids’ struggling school.

According to 20th Century Fox, “Won’t Back Down” is “a powerful story – inspired by true events – of parenthood, friendship, hope and courage.” It is also a fictionalized account of a successful campaign to pass a so-called “parent trigger” law.
Simply put, parent trigger laws allow 51% of parents of a given public school the right to close a "failing school" or replace it with a privately managed charter. So you can guess who is in favor of the laws...Charter Management Organizations, Corporate Reformers and politicians who are pushing charter schools on America despite the lack of research showing that charters offer any advantage over regular
It’s no coincidence that “Won’t Back Down” is funded in large part by Walden Media, the same company that bankrolled “Waiting for Superman.” Walden Media is owned by Phillip Anschutz, a right-wing billionaire who has a long history of supporting conservative politicians and causes.
The source of evil in the movie is, of course, the teachers union.

The NEA article rightfully explains why unions are not the problem with "failing schools." No corporate reformer has yet been able to explain why, if unions are so bad, Massachusetts for example, where unions dominate public education, have successful schools based on the all important test scores and states that don't allow teachers unions like North Carolina and Texas rank so low in the test score contest.

Won't Back Down, like Waiting for Superman, describes another battle in the war against public education in America. Diane Ravitch explains why parent trigger laws are the wrong way to help struggling schools.
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.

Parents in Florida got it right earlier this month. By organizing, they stopped a parent trigger law. No Florida-based parent group supported it. By their actions, they recognized that collaboration — not hostile takeovers — is the most effective way to improve their public schools.
Ravitch asks, should "51 percent of people using a public service have the power to privatize it?" I understand that those same corporate reformers might answer yes to that question. However, the right thing to do is to improve public services -- not throw them away.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


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