Monday, August 20, 2012

So You Say You Like Parent Empowerment? Careful What You Wish For...

All the hype around the coming release of a heart-wrenching, pro-privatization film "Won't Back Down" has got me thinking.  I completely agree with all the bloggers and activists calling out the false premise of the film as well as exposing the true agendas (See Jersey Jazzman's here, Rita Solnet via Valerie Strauss here, and Diane Ravitch here among others.)

An activist friend of mine recently tweeted:
Recognize: When/if parents+teachers organize real progressive community control struggles Corp WBD folks-"not what we meant!" 

Ah-ha!  All this talk about parent empowerment is a fantastic chance to seize the moment away from the corporate reformers and speak to real reform efforts.  Afterall, parents' and teachers' motivations are very closely aligned: quality, equitable, learning conditions meeting all children's needs.  Let the reformers with their big glossy Hollywood films get the people riled up and then educate folks so that they push for true democratic reforms which give actual voice to parents and push for policies which actually help children.  

Perhaps we can set up discussion groups after showings of the movie giving parents, community members, and interested persons a chance to speak about their vision of great public education. Of course we would be sure to present the actual facts behind the movie as well but also open the door to true collaboration.  This terrible movie would certainly open the door to more conversations.

I also think we need to start a letter/twitter/facebook campaign petitioning Michael Moore to make a documentary exposing education reform.  Enough of these Hollywood blockbusters like Waiting for Superman and WBD, let's get some REAL info out there!

At the end of the day, any way we can twist this twisted tale back into true grassroots possibility seems like a good idea to me! Instead of demanding charter schools and turnarounds, what if parents stormed the Boards and statehouses demanding true equitable funding?  What if enough parents were riled up that they held sit-ins until a library was placed in every school (like the parents at Whittier did)? What if hundreds of thousands were so inspired they took to the streets alongside all the people already out there?  And what about students getting so mad they all held sit-ins (like the students at Social Justice High School recently did) and walk-outs until we force actual change.

Any other ideas on how we could turn this propaganda into momentum?

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