Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Don't Back Down From Protesting "Won't Back Down" Movie

If you haven't noticed this yet, tonight there is a gala billed as "Teachers Rock" to support the parent trigger movie "Won't Back Down." It will be broadcast on CBS on Aug. 18. (Don't tell me CBS is trying to out "education nation" NBC.) There is so much material coming in I can't include it all. So look at this as a data dump of web sites and some commentary (sorry for some redundancy). If you have more leave the link in the comment section and I'll update this post.

Leonie put up a superb FAQ re the movie “Won’t Back Down” and the Parent Trigger

Here are some more key ref's on Won't Back Down and its corporate backing:
Ravitch's twitter campaign:

Parent trigger laws are designed to allow parents at a school to vote to close it and reopen it as a charter. In reality the parents end up with less rights than they started with given that a public school is subject to more pressure than a charter. Go ask the people behind parent trigger laws if they will allow the parents to elect the charter board.

The charter chains are behind these moves and pour money into getting signatures through hook or crook and then drive the engine the rest of the way. Even when parents realize they have been fooled they are not allowed to withdraw their names one court ruled. An attempt to push through a parent trigger law failed recently in Florida. (Sorry I don't have time to include all the links).

This movie is a fictionalized version of PT laws in that a majority of the teachers also have to vote, which on the surface seems like a pro-teacher point of view which is what the movie is pushing. Of course they are voting to turn themselves into non-unionized teachers, I guess something a corps of Teach for America might do. (By the way, the concert tonight will raise funds for TFA amongst other orgs.)

Jose Vilson tackles the point about the so-called teacher voice in the movie:

Parent Trigger And Why We Need To Talk [Let's Be A Solution]

A call has been issued to parents and teachers here in NYC to hold protest event at the September 28 premiere of "Won't Back Down" similar to what was done at the premiere of "Waiting for Superman" two years ago. GEM, ICE, MORE, Change the Stakes and others have been notified and a committee to Stand Up to Won't Back Down (can we call it SUWD?) hopefully will be formed by the end of the month. Some of us envision rolling out those red Real Reform capes.
This caused some comment:
We can’t attack frustrated working class parents, nor teachers who want to fight for change. It would seem to me that we have to say that
1)      We need to fight for all students,
2)      Teachers, and their unions, are not the enemies,
3)      The system is at fault; it can’t and won’t educate all working class students.
4)      The same folks financing the movie are the same capitalists who’ve created the problem.

It’s a fine line, but….
It is a fine line, more than Waiting for Superman. But the backers of the film pretty much cinch the case for holding a protest. We'll see if something gets off the ground. I do admit that after fighting the old line pre-Bloomberg bureaucracy, the political ed machines and the UFT/Unity gang since 1970 sometimes movies like this or elements of the charter movement do appeal to me and taking a stand against them is a fine line. When the people running the unions are if not enemies, obstructions, exactly what approach do you take? We had the same problem in our movie -- while we defended teacher unions we also tried to make a point that they were not doing enough to defend public education though we didn't go into details. (We need a movie just to deal with that.)
Diane Ravitch posts today:

About that “Teachers Rock” Concert

Here's another thought.  You could also contact the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the American Federation of Musicians to express your opinion about this situation.  It does seem a little odd that professionals in these unions would take part in a production that is sponsored and promoted by private parties intent on disparaging professionals in a different union.  Just saying.

George Schmidt has a good take on "Won't Back Down."

Won't back down...' is latest Hollywood addition to the 'Waiting for Superman' propaganda trail. Teacher bashing. Union busting. Privatization agenda again on display thanks to Hollywood moguls and brain-dead stars

Recently, the preliminary propaganda for the upcoming Hollywood movie "Won't Back Down" has caught the eye of many of us and sadly misled some of us (including this reporter). A closer look at the pre-release propaganda for the movie and the agendas of the movie's creators and promoters gives everyone an idea of what we're facing. And what we will be facing is that latest iteration of the "Waiting for Superman" genre of pro-charter school attacks on public school teachers, unions, and the public schools themselves.

Union members across the country are beginning to ask why union actors and actresses like Maggie Gyllenhaal (above) are working like dogs to produce union-busting and teacher bashing propaganda like "Won't Back Down" for the right wing propagandists who have begun a new generation of anti-public school media work since "Waiting for Superman" two years agoThe best comprehensive analysis of what is looming came to us through Oakland and friends there. This was an email from Sharon Higgins (sharonrhiggins@yahoo.com) that arrived at Substance on August 9, 2012.

“Won’t Back Down” (WBD) is pure, unadulterated propaganda which was designed to stimulate intense emotional support for The Parent Trigger. WBD was produced by Walden Media, as was “Waiting for Superman,” its documentary predecessor. It is strongly believed that one major reason "Waiting for Superman" failed to even get nominated for an Oscar because the director had staged scenes.

Walden Media is owned by Philip Anschutz, an extremely conservative Colorado billionaire and major donor to right-wing causes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Anschutz
The Parent Trigger was originally conceived by a phony grassroots organization birthed from a charter chain in Southern California (Green Dot Public Schools). More about that here:

Union teachers and other union activists are expected to picket and protest at the opening of the latest union-busting Hollywood propaganda film, "Won't Back Down" when the film opens in September. Like the 2010 movie "Waiting for Superman," "Won't Back Down" is a slick propaganda piece promoting charter schools and bashing real public schools, real public school teachers, and teacher unions.Then the idea was picked up by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who then wrote model legislation for The Parent Trigger Act. The text was adopted by the Education Task Force at ALEC’s 2010 States & Nation Policy Summit in December 2010, then approved by the ALEC Board of Directors in January 2011.”

ALEC had the document posted on their website for a while, but then removed it at some point. The cached document can still be seen here: http://www.webcitation.org/5yGOUW6Ll

Scrubbing that document and revising parts of their website came about with the growing awareness of ALEC – and the accompanying outrage – which occurred in late 2011 and earlier this year, much of which resulted from the work of this group:

The corporate ed reformers who are pushing privatization are subjecting American citizens to a propaganda campaign to advance their agenda. Michelle Rhee is a big part of it, and that is why her organization, StudentsFirst, has collaborated with many of the Tea Party-type governors who are intent on crippling what remains of public education.

“Won’t Back Down” has now become a part of the long and extensive history of propaganda film making. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_film
The hype for WBD started to get underway last week in NYC w/a promotional screening, and it will be non-stop for the next few months. It has also been timed to coincide with other efforts.

Parents Across America has also done a critique of it: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2012/06/parents-give-wont-back-down-movie-trailer-a-thumbs-down/?utm_source=8-9-12&utm_campaign=8-9-12&utm_medium=email

 Diane Ravitch here.

Some satire at http://studentslast.blogspot.com/:

Stoning Teachers Raises Some Eyebrows - with Updates

More from Chicago:

Chicago Parents Urge Streep Avoid Parent Trigger Movie Event

As one Chicago parents group's blog (Parents United for Responsible Education: Building powerful public school parents and communities) notes, the education deform / privatization forces are in full propaganda war mode as they push the pro-parent trigger movie, "Won't Back Down." Parents United for Responsible Education publicized the letter it sent to acclaimed actress Meryl Streep, asking her to avoid a promo "Teachers Rock" subterfuge event for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) promoted film.

Blogger New York City Eye asks other progressive pro-student, pro-parent, pro-teachers to likewise petition Streep and other Hollywood media heavies to distance themselves from or renounce the mean undertoned "Won't Back Down."
Immediately after this letter I have posted contact information for personalities connected to the "Won't Back Down" film.

PURE's letter's text appears below:

Dear Meryl

August 10th, 2012

Ms. Meryl Streep

c/o Leslee Dart

Dart Group

sent by facsimile

212 277 7550

If you really appreciate teachers, please pull out of

phony “Teachers Rock” event promoting

the themes of the “Won’t Back Down” movie:

public school privatization and wholesale teacher firing

Dear Ms Streep:

I am writing to ask you to reconsider your participation in the “Teachers Rock” event next week. As parents, we are concerned that this event is part of a larger propaganda campaign to force privatization on public schools. The movie, “Won’t Back Down,” is just the latest and most intensive move in this effort.

While we have been unable to view the entire movie, we have seen the trailer and read promotional stories that are already being published. We also know that the producer, Walden Media and Philip Anschutz, were behind the “Waiting for Superman” documentary whose one-sided and often misleading content created a great deal of controversy among those of us who strongly support our nation’s teachers. Even Roger Ebert eventually rethought his positive “Superman” review.

“Won’t Back Down” is poised to be equally if not more controversial because it claims to be “based on real events” about the “parent trigger law” which allows parents to sign petitions to close their school and turn it into a charter school.

As an active and informed parent, I know that parent empowerment is not the real agenda behind this so-called parent trigger law. It was in fact written by the head of a charter management company which initiated the first parent trigger campaign. The law was taken up by ALEC and has been pushed in a number of other states with generous financial backing of the Walton Foundation (which is sponsoring “Teacher Rocks”) and other corporate school reform funders.

Our small Chicago organization and a larger network with which we are affiliated, Parents Across America, are working to get out the truth about “Won’t Back Down.” We can’t afford to put on a big show or produce a Hollywood movie to make our voices heard, but we do hope you will listen to us. You can find more information about this issue on our web sites, www.pureparents,org and www.parentsacrtossamerica.org.

Thank you so much for your attention.

Best wishes,

Julie Woestehoff

Executive Director

PURE's previous post:
Time to tweet some stars about the Won’t Back Down movie

August 10th, 2012
The propaganda campaign for the parent trigger law created by charter school operators and promoted by ALEC is in full swing.

The big kick-off event is a concert called “Teachers Rock.” Like the “parent tricker” itself, this concert pretends to honor teachers while promoting a movie, “Won’t Back Down,” that is designed to get a lot of them fired and replaced by Teach for America newbies.

The concert will take place this Tuesday, Aug, 14th, at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. CBS will air a one-hour special using footage from the concert and the WBD movie, tributes to teachers from stars, etc. on Friday, Aug. 17th, at 8 pm EDT.

We know that most of the performers, like the actors in the movie, don’t have a clue how they are being used to promote school privatization in the guise of parent empowerment, but this concert and WBD movie are going to put the issue front and center and we need to make sure that our voices are heard.

Here’s what you can do:

PAA and I have written about the Won’t Back Down movie before, but if you don’t remember details, take a few moments to read PAA’s review of the WBD movie trailer (which is all we have been able to see so far – we are requesting a screening) and fact sheet on the WBD movie.

Then reach out to everyone you can about this movie and concert. This movie is designed to be even more powerful than Waiting for Superman, and we need to counter it with every thing we have. How do you fight Hollywood? Make the movie controversial, not feel-good. Take it to the stars who mean well but need to open their eyes to what they are doing. Everyone needs to write to CBS, too.

Everyone wants to write to a star, right? A list of contact info for a few of those involved in the Teachers Rock concert follows (gleaned from posters on Diane Ravitch’s blog). The easiest thing to do is to facebook and tweet them, keeping on mind that they are not the enemy. Post your thoughts on their facebook pages, twitter feeds, use their e-mails, write to their publicist! This is the big one and we need all hands on board!

I’ll post my letter the Meryl Streep next.

Here are a few message points:

*The Won’t Back Down movie and the 8/17 Teacher Rocks concert are propaganda for the parent trigger law created by charter school operators and promoted by ALEC.
*Won”t Back Down is a “feel-bad” movie for parents and teachers who support public education.
*The controversial WBD movie promotes charter takeovers of schools, yet charter schools are no better than our regular schools.
*No real teachers were depicted in the filming of the WBD movie.
*Parents won’t be fooled by the “Parent Tricker” or the Won’t Back Down movie.

Teachers Rock performers:
1. Dave Grohl: Manager-Gabby at 323-856-8222
2. Adam Levine: Receptionist will take message at 310-776-7640
3. Jack Black: email to sjackson_asst@WMEentertainment.com
4. Meryl Streep: publicist’s voice mail at 212-277-7555
5. Viola Davis: email to ewolff@apanewyork.com
6. Morgan Freeman: email to stan@sra-pr.com

1. Dave Grohl – Foo Fighters – Agent: Don Muller – WME 1325 Avenue Of The Americas, New York, NY 10019 T.212.586.5100 F.212.246.3583
2. Adam Levine – Maroon 5 singer – Manger: Career Artist Management – 1100 Glendon Avenue, Suite 1100 | Los Angeles, CA 90024 | 310.776.7640 (p) | 310.776.7659 (f)
3. Jack Black – Agent: WME 1325 Avenue Of The Americas, New York, NY 10019 T.212.586.5100 F.212.246.3583
4. Meryl Streep – Publicist: Leslee Dart. Dart Group. 90 Park Avenue. 19th Floor. New York, NY 10016. Phone: 212-277-7555.
5. Viola Davis – Agent: Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) 45 West 45th St. 4th floor, New York, NY 10036 T. 212.687.0092 F. 212.245.5062
6. Morgan Freeman – Publicist: Stan Rosenfield & Associates, Inc., 2029 Century Park E., Suite 1190, Los Angeles, CA 90067, USA. Phone: (310) 286-7474, Fax: (310) 286-2255.
7. Josh Groban
8. Maggie Gyllenhaal (last, but not least)


The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.


Anonymous said...

I and many other public school teachers and parents have been banned from both "Won't Back Down" and "Official TeachersRock2012" Facebook pages for just linking articles are statements about The Parent Trigger Law. Interesting enough, there are some public school teachers being honored by Walmart at this concert. I have no idea how you get to be in their Hall of Fame, but I did ask one of the recipients who commented "change was needed". Not sure if she saw my reply because I was banned.

So please so to those FB sites and let them know this concert is not in any way about us.


Anonymous said...

There is also a FB page to Boycott Won't Back Down. Please try to get the number of LIKES in the thousands. I don't think it's a coincidence that the producers of "Waiting for Superman" are now using big name stars in this movie so they can promote their agenda to Main Street. We can't fight the money behind this movement, but we can fight it with our combined voices.