Count me as one of the people excited to see "Won't Back Down," a much-anticipated film which tells the story of a parent and a teacher who work together to turn around a failing neighborhood school. Take a look:
The film stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis who were on hand in New York over the weekend for the big premiere. Also on hand for the film's debut? Teachers unions. Angry union protesters marched and carried signs chanting slogans such as, "Move on over, corporate takeover?" and "Won't back down, get outta town!"
A local NBC affiliate was on the ground and reported on the demonstration and the reactions from the movie's cast & crew.
My favorite interview of the bunch was the teacher (?) who derided the film for "sending false hope to parents." The same protester also complained that America's public schools shouldn't be "corporized," or run by corporations -- an argument which seems a) pretty darn illiterate for a teacher to make, and b) out of place at a film highlighting the work of a strong mother and a dedicated teacher.
Further, the news report notes how the film shows how the teachers union obstructs potential progress in schools "every step of the way." Predictably, unions have a problem with this message -- not because it isn't true, but because they don't want it to be public knowledge. Take, for instance, the state of Detroit's public school system. With the city's graduation rate hovering around 32%, you'd think the city would take all the help it could get -- that is, unless the help you're talking about comes in the form of non-unionized charter schools.
Bob Thompson, a retired entrepreneur, invested some of his fortune to create a successful charter school in Detroit that graduated more than 90% of its students. When he offered the city of Detroit a gift of $500 million to build 15 more like it, teachers unions and Democratic lawmakers turned him away. Why? Because Thompson's proposed plan was based on measuring student performance -- a policy teachers unions complain is unfair. So instead of graduating 90% of students and building new schools for the bargain price of just $1 per year, Detroit's school system crawls onward, dragging down countless students and their hopes for a better future, a better city.
It's not the first time the state of Michigan failed to accept a generous offer for better education. Another billionaire entrepreneur, Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, offered up $200 million of his own money to build a new campus for Ave Maria University, a Catholic school he founded. But red tape from county and local officials prevented the necessary zoning changes so Monaghan and his $200 million went to Florida.
In the state of Michigan, the public overwhelmingly supports the development of charter schools and African Americans are among their biggest supporters (75%+). But public opinion is of little consequence to unions and their Democratic supporters who are entrenched with an unyielding monopoly on public education.