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Won't Back Down: School Reform Movie Or Sappy Polemic?

This new film show how parents use a "trigger law" to improve a school run by uninspired teachers and administrators. Is it a blueprint for positive change or Hollywood propaganda?


Every 20 years or so Hollywood takes note of public education and produces a film of merit.

" To Sir, with Love" is an example of the genre set abroad.

" Stand and Deliver" brings us into the classroom in Los Angeles.

Now a film called " Won't Back Down" dramatizes how two moms and one idealistic teacher battle a bevy of uninspired administrators and teachers in an effort to transform their childrens' school.

The theatrical reviews are mixed.

One critic called it "a profoundly surprising and powerful film, one that’s certain to provoke strong reactions from audiences."

Another described it as "a pseudo-controversial education drama that will only open the eyes of the truly ignorant or utterly misinformed."

The politics are important because the drama revolved around the concept of a "trigger law."

Such laws, now on the books in seven states, California included, allow a majority of the parents in a school to take a no-confidence vote and demand some sort of remedial transformation, according to U.S. News & World Reports.

With 20 other states thinking about giving parents a chance to pull the trigger, the movie is causing some concern among people in the education world.

"There are many reasons to be concerned about the images of educators portrayed in the movie and the fanfare surrounding this type of law — which so far has only been used in one instance but has piqued the interest of legislatures in several states," writes Anne L. Bryant, Executive Director of the  National School Boards Association (NSBA).

What do you think? Do you want to see the film? Would you like to pull the trigger at your school? And, if so, what would you be aiming at?


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