A Hollywood film hitting theaters today is based on an education policy being considered across the country, including Florida.
The film “Won’t Back Down,” starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal, is about a group of parents and teachers who take over a low-performing school.
Florida Rep. Michael Bileca (R-Miami) proposed this idea, which became known as the “parent-trigger” legislation, during the last legislative session.
But the Parent Empowerment bill failed in a dramatic way on a 20-to-20 tie vote after hours of public testimony at the last budget committee meeting.
State Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) was at a screening of the film in Miami. The film is fictional. But Flores says it helps highlight why parents and students in low economic areas need more school choices.
“Its easier for us to make choices because we have economic possibilities and other things to be able to send our children to different schools,” she said.
Opponents called the bill an excuse to hand over public schools to private companies. And some school board members said a parent petition should not override decisions made by elected school board members.
But Flores says the bill is about giving parents in low-income communities more options.
“We can get up and move and send our children to different school districts. Not everyone has that same opportunity,” Flores said.
“When still we live in a country where your ZIP code primarily determines where you’re going to go to school, we have to try to make every parent to have that opportunity.”
Flores says parents who opposed the bill last session were not low-income parents.
“All of the parents that came forward and said that they were against this bill, when we asked them, ‘where does your child go to school?’ Their children went to school at top performing schools,” Flores said. “And so many of us asked, why not give that same choice that you had to other parents?”
Flores says the bill will be back again next session.