Tuesday night, I attended an early screening of “Won’t Back Down,” a movie inspired by actual events. Although the movie doesn’t premier until 9/28, it is already generating a lot of buzz for its portrayal of the Teacher’s Union, inner city schools, our failing education system and precisely how difficult it is to fight through all of the red tape to change our schools for the better. But you know what? These are all issues that we need to think about – and I mean REALLY think about. The government, whether federal, state or local, has really been lowering the standards of our education system.
As a parent, I was really excited to be invited by StudentsFirst.org to attend the screening. I had watched the trailer for the film online and felt an instant connection to the film’s plot. The film focuses on two determined mothers that put everything on the line to transform Adams, their children’s failing inner city school.
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Fitzpatrick a single mother working two jobs to support herself and her dyslexic daughter, Mallia. Viola Davis, which many of you will recognize from “The Help,” plays the role of Nona Alberts, a mother and teacher at Adams. Holly Hunter plays the role of Evelyn Riske, a former teacher and (I believe) the Vice President of the Teacher’s Union.
Won’t Back Down – A Familiar Story with an Unfamiliar Outcome
Like many schools across our country today, Adams has been pushing through students that cannot read, add or understand much of what they have been taught. The result is graduates that cannot read or dropouts, which later have a hard time finding employment. We learn that the prisons are expanding because they anticipate a larger population due to the education system’s failure.
This realization was hard to swallow, but it’s exactly what many parents need to hear. When we, as parents, allow our children’s education to suffer, the results are scary. Poverty, crime and a lifetime of struggle – is that what we want for our kids? I know it’s not what I want for mine.
In Won’t Back Down, Jamie Fitzpatrick and Nona Alberts partner together to change the future of the students for the better – starting with the school. By changing the school and improving the education of these children, they would essentially be giving the children who attend Adams a brighter future and a fighting chance at something bigger and better than what they have today. These two women fight the good fight, yet continuously run into opposition from other parents, teachers, the school board and the Teacher’s Union. Throughout the movie, you witness the struggles of these two mothers, one a teacher, and how what they are doing effects their lives. Yet, the determination to create a better future for their children and other students keeps them pushing on, even when information is uncovered by the opposition that could potentially break apart one’s family.
As parents, I think it’s hard not to respect those who risk it all to make the lives of children better. Yet, I think that stories like this not only invoke respect, but also inspire action. In fact, I think the fear of that potential action is precisely why this film has generated so many heated discussions and so much opposition – and it hasn’t even opened yet! What our those opposed to this film so afraid of?
I think the fear is that parents across the nation will realize that they CAN make a difference in the education system. It’s not a lost cause. We CAN do something about our children’s futures and it starts with the school!
If you are a parent, I urge you to see Won’t Back Down. If you have been unhappy with the education system, feel like your child has been lost or overlooked by the system, or simply realize that your child is NOT getting the quality education that he or she deserves – you will appreciate this movie and what I sincerely hope it will inspire across our nation.