Putting Education Reform To The Test

Jeb Bush Will Attend RNC Screening Of Parent Trigger Movie

Kerry Hayes / 20th Century Fox

Viola Davis, left, is a teacher and Maggie Gyllenhaal is a parent in a fictionalized movie about school restructuring.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will attend a screening of a new movie dramatizing the national debate over so-called parent trigger legislation during the Republican National Convention.

The screening of “Won’t Back Down” is sponsored by StudentsFirst, a national advocacy group which has pushed states — including Florida — to adopt parent trigger laws.

The parent trigger would allow a majority of parents at a chronically failing school to choose how to restructure the school. The options include firing some or all of the staff and principal, converting to a charter school or closing the school.

The bill failed on a tie vote in the Senate on the legislative session’s final day. Bush expects the law will pass when lawmakers return next year.

“Won’t Back Down” star Maggie Gyllenhaal as a parent trying to invoke a parent trigger-like law in Pittsburgh. Holly Hunter and Viola Davis also star in the film, which is scheduled for a September 28th release.

“As a mother, I know that I’d be willing to do whatever it takes to make sure my daughters get a great education,” said StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee in a statement. “This movie speaks to the importance of great teachers and sends a touching, powerful and important message that transcends party divisions: every child deserves a great education.”

Florida activist Rita Solnet has seen the movie, and wrote a review for The Washington Post‘s Answer Sheet blog. She says the movie is compelling, but leaves out a lot of background.

Within the first few minutes, projected on the screen in large letters are the words, “Inspired By True Events.”   That conveys the message that parents and teachers took over and ran a school somewhere in our nation.  That never happened.  I suppose that sells better than opening the film with, “This is Fictitious.”

Read her full review here.

StudentsFirst will also screen the movie during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte the following week. If you’d like details on the screenings, get in touch with StudentsFirst.


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