Stars of ‘Won’t Back Down’ Reap Unexpected Teachers Union/Leftist Backlash

Stars of ‘Won’t Back Down’ Reap Unexpected Teachers Union/Leftist Backlash
September 28, 2012

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)

It appears that the stars of “Won’t Back Down,” which enjoys wide theatrical release today, had no idea they were participating in a movie that celebrated an idea that greatly annoys the left and Democrats — school choice via the Parent Trigger.

That fact is ironic, considering protagonistMaggie Gyllenhaal is an active and vocalmember of the fashionable Hollywood left. Yet, to her credit, Gyllenhaal is sticking by her guns, and with the parent-empowerment message of her movie despite protests by teachers unions.

According to HotAir’s Mary Katherine Ham, clips of the film at the Democratic National Convention drew boos, and the president of the American Federation of Teachers wrote a letter of protest. But Gyllenhaal — who was “surprised” by the controversy of putting the needs of kids before the rules of bureaucrats and the demands of teachers unions — is not swayed (for now).She said the message of the movie is about kids, not teachers unions:

 If the adults in this situation are disagreeing to such a point that we are not making the changes that we need to make in order to serve our kids, then we are all failing.

And if the Tweet below is to be believed, Gyllenhaal was defending her position late into the night on Thursday:

Viola Davis, who plays a reform-minded teacher in the film, also stood up for the movie’s message:

I welcome protests. I welcome discourse. I think discourse is a good thing. I think it spearheads change…. And you know what, in this movie, the teacher at the end of the day is the hero. They save the day. And it’s a system that’s broken, that needs to be fixed.

Good for Ms. Davis! And even the movie’s producer, Mark Johnson, who rejects the lefty protestors and sticks up for the movie’s message:

I am surprised. Maybe I’ve been naive about this, but I think it’s a David and Goliath story: two women, two mothers from completely different backgrounds who get involved in trying to do something about the sorry state of this particular school.

Yeah, Mark. I think you’re being naive about this. What is the worth of “two women, two mothers from completely different backgrounds” against the teachers unions and the leviathan of theeducation bureaucracy? The parents are nothing. The bureaucracy is everything. I think, Mark, you’re going to find that making this movie was more trouble than it was worth.

I hope I’m wrong. I bet my wife that Gyllenhaal would recant her stance on this film and its message by the end of the weekend. Perhaps it will take longer. She may have to recant three times to satisfy the religion of the left. Perhaps it will merely take an Oprah appearance. We’ll see.

If you want to get the skinny on the policy behind this movie, no one does it better than The Heartland Institute. Check out our Parent Trigger website for starters. And there’s more information on Heartland’s “ideas” page on the Parent Trigger, as well — including many articles and several podcasts over the past two years.

And stay tuned for a new policy paper on the Parent Trigger, slated for release next week. When this whole revolutionary idea got started in 2010, we were all over it with a comprehensive study.

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)