Sunday, September 26, 2010

GEM Heroes on TV and Broadway

Boy am I glad I passed on the appearance on Fox Friends early Sunday morning. There is no way I could have performed with such grace and sagacity as Julie Cavanagh and Mona Davids did. I would have blown my top over the narrow and short, tight format. Right after watching it I felt bad for being involved in dragging Julie home from out of town and causing her to lose half a night's sleep. But she called right after and was really upbeat. Boy, it's good to get some optimism thrown at you.

Julie responded on the "union protecting bad teachers" issue brilliantly, making the point she would not be sitting there if not for tenure which allows teachers to join parents in advocating for children. She slammed them by pointing out how anti-union right to work states have some of the worst outcomes in the nation while the much lauded Finland has a unionized teaching corps.

Julie did a more effective job in one minute than MulGarten have done in 15 years.

Mona said it all: "class size matters." Leonie must have been doing cartwheels.

What can you say about Mona Davids, who I met a little over a year ago when she was dubbed Moaning Mona for her take no prisoner approach to defending charters and attacking teachers. How quickly she has morphed into Magnificent Mona, becoming an ally of so many activists in NYC, always quick with info and assistance. And she did our movie web site.(

You can see Julie and Mona on Fox

I've been working with Julie on various projects for about a year - I only met her last summer - and she delivers every single time. Helping get rallies organized at Bloomberg's house or the opening of Waiting for Superman? A press advisory or press release? A leaflet? A policy statement? Making a film? Working with teachers and parents at her school to fight back against a charter invasion? Giving wise advice on almost anything? Bingo. I don't tie my shoelaces without asking her whether I should start with the right one of the left one.

Oh yeah, and she also teaches a class of special ed kids with severe difficulties.

One of the best things I have ever done is introducing Julie to Leonie Haimson - what a powerhouse that combo has proven to be.

One of the most laughable things about the WFS film is that Michelle Rhee is the hero and not Julie Cavanagh or Leonie Haimson or Julie's school parent pal, the awesome Lydia Bellachene.Or any number of people we've been meeting.

But then again that is the whole idea of the film - The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman - (oh yeah and Julie is also working on the screenplay - does that woman ever sleep?) - we are making in response. Pointing to the parents and educators in the trenches who are the real heroes.

Inconvenient Truth Behind Superman - The Trailer

And there were a hell of a lot of them out there on Friday, old, young, in between - including ICE stalwarts James Eterno and Ellen Fox. ICE, GEM, NYCORE, ISO, a TJCer. What a party!

Where was the UFT?
One of the first things I was asked by both the NY Post and a reporter from Fox was about the UFT. I didn't go into my 40 year history of being a critic but told them that this rally was not only independent of the UFT even if by mostly UFT members, but that many of the people rallying didn't view the UFT as fighting the Real Reformer battle and in fact saw them as making too many compromises with the ed deformers.

It is funny that ed deform slugs like Whitney Tilson are branding the rally as a UFT operation. Boy is this guy clueless. And he's not the only ed deform numb skull (What's in a Not? An Ed Deform Knothead.) 

And by the way, our trailer has 3000 hits in the 5 days it has been out. We're working on a follow-up based on Friday's "Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up?"

Here are some other reports on the rally at the GEM blog along with some pics:

GEM REAL REFORMERS: Smashing Broadway Success!

I spent a whole day Sunday editing footage from Friday. I went up to Williamsburg to work with another GEMer on the project and we almost finished before we both got wiped out. We had an exciting day piecing together the footage and trying for a coherent piece. (We included the footage of Michael Moore who they just happened to run into.) The creativity between us really flowed - you forget how creative video editing can be until you are immersed in it.

This stuff for us amateurs is complex - matching sound and video of the 5 or 6 performances we taped on 3 cameras. It is shaping up but won't be done as well as we would have liked since we are in a rush and using Imovie instead of Final Cut Pro, which I don't know and need my friend to do for me. But I'm saving him for work on the actual film. Some of this stuff makes my hair hurt.


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