Saturday, July 23, 2011


But as the title of the film's central theme song says "The Hero Is You". That is, there is no superman coming to save us. It's up to the people watching the film who care about the fate of  public education to get active, organize, and engage in one of the key struggles of our times.   

Russell Branca is organizing the event. The film's co-narrator Brian Jones will be representing the film.

Everyone loves this shot of Michael Fiorillo in the film

Here is a link to the webpage for the July 24th screening.


Real Reform Studios and A Grassroots Education Movement Production, produced, directed, filmed and edited by Julie Cavanagh (teacher), Darren Marelli (school social worker), Norm Scott (retired teacher), Mollie Bruhn (teacher), and Lisa Donlan (parent). narrated by Julie Cavanagh, Brian Jones, & Daren Marelli,
(2011,  66 min)

WHEN:  Sunday July 24, 2011  1:15 pm
WHERE:  Community Church NY Gallery Room 28 East 35th st. btwn Park and Madison Aves.
ADMISSION:  Free, donations appreciated
SPECIAL GUEST: There will be a post screening Q&A with the filmmakers


In 2010 writer and director Davis Guggenheim, the director of the influential "An Inconvenient Truth",  featuring Al Gore, turned his attention to the issue of public education in America and produced the film "Waiting For Superman". The film was widely acclaimed in the mainstream press, praised lavishly by the White House and Education Secretary Arne Duncan,  and, particularly with its sympathetic portrait of Charter schools, met with much enthusiasm from those in the corporate driven "education reform movement".

The response from many teachers, parents, and students was another matter. For them, it was a salvo against the public education system with the long view of eventually privatizing it, an attack on the Teacher's Union as a central obstacle blocking reform, and the inevitable acceptance of standardized testing as the essential measure of accountability.

In "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting For Superman" a group of New York City teachers and parents came together not only to counter claims made in the film that they have found inaccurate, but to offer a powerful rebuttal to the film's philosophy. Or as they say on the film's website :

"We reject "Waiting for Superman" and the privatization of PUBLIC Education by hedge fund millionaires and corporate interests.  PUBLIC Education is not for sale!"

TITBWFS begins intensely with an opening scene of NYC students angrily chanting against the Department Of Education (DOE).  While the intensity undergoes various permutations and variations throughout the film, it never really lets up.  This is an impassioned film that takes place in a city that has seen an intense struggle in the public education policy. When Mayor Michael Bloomberg took control of city schools in 2002 and appointed Joel Klein as Schools Chancellor the battles began but when he appointed Cathie Black, a highly successful corporate CEO in the publishing business but with no connection or experience in education as his replacement in 2010, the uproar and lines of resistance were ferocious. She lasted just 95 days as her problems with parents, teachers, and students seemed overwhelming and irresolvable.

This is the emotional cauldron in which the film takes place. While NYC teachers Brian Jones and Julie Cavanagh are the central protagonists, an ample platform is given to parents, students, and teachers, to address the top down corporate CEO model of organizing education verses a participatory approach integrating parents and community. They take on the issues surrounding Charter Schools, teachers and tenure, standardized high stake testing, the closing rather than improving of public schools that are doing poorly, the co-location of Charters with public schools creating competition for space between the two, and other consequences.

The film has its villains both local and national; Mayor Bloomberg, Joel Klein, Cathie Black, the head of Harlem Children's Zone Goeffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee the ex-head of public schools on Washington D.C.  who was eventually rejected by D.C. voters, President Obama and Arne Duncan who both enthusiastically embrace the charters, and the various billionaires who lobby Washington and have invested fortunes in bringing a far right ideological agenda into the education debate.

Diane Ravitch, the ex Under Secretary of Education who once supported the Charter school movement but who now is one of its most ardent critics, is heralded as one of the film's heroes, along with Karen Lewis of the Chicago UFT, Sam Anderson a NYC teacher and education activist, or parent Leonie Haimson. But as the title of the film's central theme song says "The Hero Is You". That is, there is no superman coming to save us. It's up to the people watching the film who care about the fate of  public education to get active, organize, and engage in one of the key struggles of our times.  

The hero is you
Since our mantra is Educate, Organize, Mobilize, I would say our film is accomplishing all of the above.Russell took the initiative on this on his own. I remember at the first production meeting last August, this "hero is you" theme was hammered out and Julie's husband Glenn wrote the perfect song.

We got a check for almost $300 from last week's Albuquerque (try spelling that on pain killers) screening from the awesome Francesca Blueher. See her wonderful emails from last week: Albuquerque screening of "The Inconvenient Truth B...

One aspect is that after people see screenings they want copies to set up their own events. We have nothing to do with these screenings. They are all happening spontaneously. So far the only disapppintment to me is that here at home base in NYC the percentage of teachers who even know about the film is small. By the end of next school year I would hope most NYC teachers will have seen the film. But that is up to people out there - like you guys who read this blog. You can even invite me as a guest for a lunchtime or after school film session. I promise to be off the pain killers - jeez, typing with my left hand only is so tedious.

We are trying to keep world-wide screenings updated on our film site: but it has been hard. Interesting how many colleges are requesting the film. One prof from England wants to put it up on their faculty network. Lots of union leaders and officials and even school board and Superintendents are asking.

By the way, feel free to donate to help us in this massive distribution effort - we are almost done with 4000 dvds and may need to order more. The mailing process is costing a bundle. We especially want to get the film shown to as many NYC teachers as possible. GEM doesn't have a bank account yet so I've donated the Ed Notes corporate account - yeah, I'm the CEO. Or is it OEC? Or EEEEIOO? I love this pain killer. Anyway, send us some love:

Make checks out to:

Ed Notes, Inc.
518 Beach 134 St.
Rockaway Park, NY 11694



Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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