Won’t Back Down does not hit movie theaters until September 28, but the film about the lackluster condition of a fictional public school system is already generating controversy. The American Federations of Teachers (AFT) has taken exception to the flick, which focuses on a concerned mother and dedicated teacher’s efforts to take over a troubled school.
Ben Austin, a former Clinton White House adviser, devised the so-called parent trigger law which gives parents the power to replace teachers and take over the facility if 50 percent of them sign a petition, according to Newsmax. Austin spearheaded the movement to change Locke High School from the worst high school in Los Angeles into a model for educational reform, with a successful college preparatory learning program.
AFT President Randi Weingarten slammed Won’t Back Down for using what he terms blatant stereotypes and caricatures while placing the blame on the teachers unions, which he feels is the wrong culprit, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Weingarten had this to say about the PG-rated movie:
“Instead of focusing on real parent empowerment and how communities can come together to help all children succeed, Won’t Back Down offers parents a false choice, you’re either for students or for teachers, you can either live with a low-performing school or take a dramatic, disruptive action to shut a school down. Let’s be clear, this teacher or a teacher who engages in such deplorable actions against children should be fired for this outrageous behavior.”
During a Fox News interview with education expert Bob Bowdon, Megyn Kelly noted the similarities between the Chicago teacher’s strike and the premise of the Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis movie. Anger over the way educator performance evaluations would be administered is reportedly a major concern for the educators carrying picket signs in Chicago.
Won’t Back Down received applause when screened at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Bowdon is also the director of The Cartel, which focuses on the parent trigger law and the need to improve the academic abilities of American public school students.