Next month, the film Won’t Back Down will hit theaters around America. It is the story of a mother who will not accept that her child will be subjected to an unsatisfactory education simply because she comes from a financially disadvantaged background. It is a look at school reform in America, and will put Parent Trigger Laws front and center ahead of the upcoming election season.
This week, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Former D.C. Schools Chairman Michelle Rhee (who many may remember from Waiting for Superman) attending a screening of the film at the Republican National Convention. They spoke at a panel after the film, giving the movie their bi-partisan seal of approval.
Bush praised the film for humanizing the issue, saying that “We need to take [education reform] out of a political context and take it to something where it’s a top priority of parents.” Randi Weingarten, president of teachers’ union American Federation of Teachers, was less than pleased with the portrayal of teachers and students in the film. Weingarten said “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 dramatic, disruptive action to shut a school down.”
Bush and Rhee, however, see Parent Trigger as a nonpartisan issue. In fact, the film will be shown at the Democratic National Convention next week. Bush said “We’re in this climate of negativity, and there may be more agreement here than people want to admit.” It is imperative that we put education before partisanship. As Rhee said “We have to fight really hard against that polarization.”
On the issue of school choice, Americans are much more unified than on many others. If we agree to work together, we can make the future better for American children. That’s something for which we can all agree to work.