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Teacher and female student at the blackboard with clock drawing on it.
Mournfully, it seems that in this time of heated partisan rancor, there is something that both parties can agree on: teacher-bashing.

This week, courtesy of a decision by DNC political director Patrick Gaspard, some of the convention attendees at Charlotte's Democratic National Convention will be treated to the latest Hollywood attempt to demonize unionized public school teachers, in the form of a new movie called Won't Back Down.

The film, which is being marketed as an inspirational educational film (in the vein of classic past films like Stand and Deliver), features Maggie Gyllenhaal. According to the plot summary offered by HuffPo's Jon Ward, she plays a single mother whose efforts to improve her child's education are stymied at every turn by a conniving, intransigent teachers union.

Won't Back Down is hardly the trailblazer in Hollywood-endorsed demonization of teachers unions. Two years ago, the concept of unions as the enemy of education was already driven into the ground by the documentary Waiting for Superman, which education activist Diane Ravitch effectively skewered after its release.

The film's director, Daniel Barnz, is clearly quite sensitive to the early ripples of criticism about the film's choice of villians:

"I think that people are a bit tired of the finger-pointing and scapegoating within this world. I think they just want to see a way in which our schools can improve. That's the spirit of the film," said Barnz, who described himself as a "liberal Democrat" from a family of educators.

"I think this film is an absolute celebration of teaching. It is pro-teacher and celebrates all the incredible things that teachers do," Barnz said.

There is no mistaking who the villain of the piece is, however. It's the teachers' union, which fights the reformer parents, trying to buy off Gyllenhaal's character and then smearing Davis' character.

Barnz insisted that "the film is not anti-anything. It's pro-children."

"The film is not an anti-union movie," he said. "It is possible to support and criticize unions. And that, I have discovered, is not a very popular thing to say."

Are there two more tired defenses than the ones employed here by Barnz? He jabs with the "Hey, some of my best friends are ..." defense, and then offers a counterpunch with "I'm the real victim here."

On that score, Barnz is wrong. The real victim here, as they have been for the last several years in the public conversation, are the countless hard-working public school teachers who have been vilified in that public conversation because they demand a voice, however faint, in the circumstances in which they ply their craft.

It seems that, with the latest and ceaseless wave of enmity towards teachers unions, that people really love their teachers, but only as long as (a) they never ask for anything and (b) they exert no control over their own careers.

It is easy to understand why the Republican Convention would jump at the opportunity to marry itself to Hollywood-endorsed union bashing (someone really ought to remember to ask some of the film's leading actors, like Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, if they have voluntarily relinquished their SAG cards).

It is far more difficult to understand why the Democratic National Committee, which must know that its only hope of attaining its political goals this year is with the assistance of organized labor, would so eagerly sign up. In fact, it is damned near impossible to understand.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I find that whenever anyone takes this this tack: (11+ / 0-)
    "I think that people are a bit tired of the finger-pointing and scapegoating within this world..."
    It usually means they're trying to evade or gloss over  the truth.
    •  I don't think people ever get tired of pointing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dartagnan, nextstep, lonespark

      fingers or goat scaping.


      by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:39:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It Also Means (4+ / 0-)

      that they are finger-pointing and scapegoating.

      "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

      by Reino on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:50:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Who can we bitch to? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dartagnan, houyhnhnm, Mostel26, lonespark

      This aggravates me beyond belief.  Every dedicated teacher I know is demoralized. The last thing they need is so snot-nosed, smug little filmmaker beating up on them in a wildly slanted film to get headpats from the rich and powerful. The entire from of caring, fighting activist parents against hard-hearted, roadblocking teachers is a damned lie. Find me that situation in real life that's as black and white as this guy makes it out to be. Instead, I hear from teachers in high-poverty schools that it's a struggle to engage the parents at all, and teachers in the middle class schools that all they want is for little Jason or Jenny to be treated with kid gloves. Most teachers would LOVE to work with parents, and any film that drives a wedge into this relationship is destructive and a menace to education.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

      by anastasia p on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:33:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Hope There's a Reaction There nt (4+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:23:33 AM PDT

  •  "Morons. I got morons on my team." n/t (5+ / 0-)
  •  When Arne Duncan is Secretary of Education (30+ / 0-)

    this shouldn't be a surprise.

    There are plenty of corporatist Democrats who see charter schools and dismantling of the teachers unions as their own chance to jump on a lucrative gravy train.

    This is the kind of crap that really makes me want a Labor Party.

    Very very bad choice on the part of convention planners.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:30:20 AM PDT

    •  Boy, wasn't that a disappointing appointment. (5+ / 0-)

      Hard for me to believe the MSM swallowed the "divisive" argument about Obama when half of his appointments were Republicans and some were even holdovers from Bush.


      by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:47:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Was Arne Duncan ever in the classroom? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You know, Rick Perry wasn't that far off by suggesting the Dept of Ed. needs to go. What function does it ultimately serve that can't be done via a different agency.

      Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

      by rreabold on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:01:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He Wasn't (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OnlyWords, houyhnhnm, lonespark

        All of its purposes could be served via a different agency. The main argument in favor of keeping it a separate department is that you can include somebody with expertise on education issues in the cabinet, which is useful if the president wants to make education a priority. Looking at the history of the position, it has not been filled with people knowledgeable about education, and it has not caused presidents to focus on education, so it would be difficult to judge it a success.

        "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

        by Reino on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:03:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Just part of the effort to destroy... (16+ / 0-)

    public employee's unions. I'll bet they go after tenure again as it is something that gives teachers free rides for life which is BS, when all it does is give teachers due process after a period of "at will" employment.

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:31:03 AM PDT

    •  I have a hard time with this one. (5+ / 0-)

      Until my kids got into high school I felt we always the best teachers ever. Now? Not so much.

      Because of the focus on standardized testing, I believe that principals have started sticking their "lemons" in honors and AP classes because those kids will test well no matter who their teacher is. My son was in a 9th grade honors English class that wrote two essays all year. No rough drafts, no revisions. Two essays. He was in an AP History class that wrote one essay all year and the teacher never even graded it.  Students pay to take AP tests and part of that test is 3 essays that this teacher did not prepare them for. It is hard for a parent to watch students who are used to working hard and who plan on taking and passing an AP test worry that they aren't prepared and choose not to take the test. This teacher also intentionally deflated the students' grades because if they come back this year with a score of "Advanced" on their STAR test she will bump them up. This means they worked extra hard on doing well on her test. After the testing was over the kids were given a bunch of nonsense work to turn in that was worth tons of points so they all ended up with an A.

      These teachers are both tenured and have no business in a classroom.

      Do my kids have outstanding teachers in high school? Yes they do. But it is hard for me to defend a system that allows teachers who refuse to grade or even assign essays to keep their jobs, when there are a lot of people out there with higher standards who could do a better job.


      by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:39:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Talk to Teachers and Administrators (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mikejay611, lonespark

        Tenure is being weakened across the country, so you will increasingly get your wish over time.

        Depending on your state, those teachers taught for 2-4 years at that school before receiving tenure, and the administration decided to give it to them. You now believe that the same administration that willingly gave those teachers tenure is competent enough to figure out that those teachers don't belong in the classroom and find better replacements.

        If the administration is convinced that those teachers are doing a poor job, they can begin remediation. Before that happens, somebody has to convince the administration that those teachers need remediation. Talk to the teachers first. If that doesn't help, talk to an administrator. If that doesn't help, understand that the administration is a bigger problem than tenure laws, which are written and passed by your state legislature and not your union.

        "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

        by Reino on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:02:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We have a large group of parents who (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Reino, daddybunny, lonespark

          started refusing to let their kids take the standardized tests in elementary school. These kids were all in the gifted program. Now these kids are in high school and administration is doing everything they can to pressure these kids into taking the STAR test. They are told they will have to take a special test instead, they are told they will lose privileges and if they don't do well they might not be allowed to take accelerated classes.

          I object to the pyschological head games schools are playing with these kids. When kids are told they will get their grades increased if they do well on the STAR test, and those kids are all getting "Cs" and they are used to being straight-A students then education becomes about games and not learning about history.

          I believe every parent should opt their kids out of standardized testing but the schools put so much pressure on the kids they are afraid their grades will suffer.

          Thanks NCLB

          AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

          by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:15:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's the problem with weakening tenure (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            houyhnhnm, lonespark

            When you weaken tenure, it makes it easier for administrators to walk all over teachers. It would be one thing if the administrators were intelligent educators with your kids' best interests at heart, but instead they are school administrators.

            "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

            by Reino on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:56:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree that a lot of administrators are terrible (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              but in this instance I don't really see what other option they have. They are not in the business of educating kids, they are in the business of getting good test scores. This  means that they have to play the game in a way that will get them the highest test scores.

              The most ridiculous thing about NCLB is the fact that the junior high in our town (we have 3) with the highest test scores is an underperforming school.


              AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

              by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:13:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  What you are complaining about (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            has absolutely nothing to do with teachers, teachers' unions, or even building or district administrators.  It's the result of the educational policies of two administrations.

            Why do you want to pile on teachers?  Because it's easier to kick someone who's already down?  Are you just a bully?

            Light is seen through a small hole.

            by houyhnhnm on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:26:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  How am I a bully because I don't like paying (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gramofsam1, lonespark

              $87 for my son to take a test his teacher didn't even try to prepare her class for? This teacher has been teaching for 20+ years and tells her students that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. She disparages unions which is unbelievable since she would be unemployed without hers. I hope.

              Someone is to blame for employing teachers who do not teach. Right now my 9th grader is in an honors English class and the teacher is reading Tom Sawyer out loud to them. In class. They are not allowed to read it at home.

              The students had to pass a competency test to get into this class.

              When my other child had this teacher and I asked her how kids are supposed to have grammar skills when the lower grades aren't teaching them, she told me that she has grammar books and the kids can check them out and teach themselves.

              I am sick and tired of hearing how standardized testing is a good teacher assessment tool. It isn't.

              AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

              by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:50:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  What will happen if tenure is abolished? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        houyhnhnm, lonespark

        Historically there has been an implicit tradeoff.  Teachers pay has not been good but there has been relative job stability and a decent retirement system.  Take that away and the teaching profession will be significantly less attractive.  To attract teachers, school systems will have to pay more or accept less qualified individuals.  Of course, there are some very bad teachers in systems that do not have tenure, so your linkage of poor teaching and tenure is tenuous.  If tenure were abolished, it might be a bit easier to remove these miss-assigned teachers, but the good teachers that your children had in elementary and junior high schools might leave and there is no certainty that the replacements for the miss-assigned high school teachers would be any better.

        I'm truly sorry Man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union--Robert Burns

        by Eric Blair on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:10:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I support tenure. I even support academic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          freedom. My son's history teacher is a right wing nutcase who cited right wing radio host Lars Larsen as a source for information. Her world history timeline starts with Adam and Eve. I never complained until she told the kids that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.

          Do I think she is an idiot for railing against unions when the only thing keeping her employed is her tenure? Yes.

          But I hate the fact that more and more these lazy teachers who refuse to teach are rewarded when some of the best teachers my kids have ever had are getting laid off because of cutbacks.

          Administrators are overwhelmed right now and just trying to educate kids in a system that doesn't want them to learn well but instead wants them to test well.

          AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

          by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:12:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  look v, if you think no one is teaching (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            you have the right to go sit in the classroom and observe....i say this as a 24 year school employee, teacher and social worker, public and private schools.....butbefore you go hurling accusations you need to see for yourself. I always tell parents, and even teachers, follow me around for a day before you make should definitely ask to to do so. Ten mins at back to school night doesn't g ive you a clear enough picture.

            •  I can see for myself without going to class. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I see that returning a worksheet handout is worth 150 points (after STAR testing) but quizzes and tests are worth 30.

              I see from the online gradebook that only 1 essay was assigned all year and the kids graded that themselves.

              My son passed the AP test. He believes this is because his 7th grade history teacher was so amazing.

              In my experience there are very few awful teachers. But it is frustrating as a parent to have kids in high school where there is tons of pressure to over achieve and they end up wasting a year in a class not teaching them anything unless they read it for themselves in a book.

              And back to school night? This teacher didn't bother to show up for back to school night.

              But I have also seen administrators use politics to run off good teachers and even other administrators. I believe in tenure. But I have seen firsthand some of its failures.

              AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

              by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:55:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  How do you know the teachers are "lemons" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        houyhnhnm, lonespark

        if they are doing what the system requires of them. if schools don't get judged on essays, and teachers have more demands put on them all the time, why should they spend time grading essays?

        Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

        by anastasia p on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:37:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Because the state standards include essay (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          writing as part of the curriculum. No one is admitting they only teach to the standardized test (which tests for writing in 4th and 7th grades only in California).

          If teachers are supposed to teach the standards, then an Honors English class should include a writing component. And an AP History class should include essay writing because that is part of the AP test that kids pay for, the results of which go on their transcripts.

          AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

          by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:58:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Talk to the College Board (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        AP teachers have to submit a syllabus and get it approved to be authorized to teach an AP course.  If teachers at your son's school are not following the syllabus they submitted that needs to be reported.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 02:23:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The College Board is worthless. So is the AP (0+ / 0-)

          program. As far as I'm concerned I don't want my kids to waste another second in an AP class. The College Board cares about collecting $87 and testing integrity. They do not care at all about who teaches the classes.

          The AP program is a huge scam on kids to pay big money to get "college credit" that some schools don't even grant, and the kids feel they have to take the classes because those who do have higher grade point averages.

          It is just one more education scam that has NOTHING to do with producing more educated students.

          AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

          by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:01:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The whole world's against you (0+ / 0-)

            I get it.  Did you even check with the teacher to see what he'd assigned or did you just take your son's word for it?

            Light is seen through a small hole.

            by houyhnhnm on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 05:08:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You can see online what teachers assign (0+ / 0-)

              Parents are urged to check on their students grades regularly. When you log in and look at a class and see quizzes and tests and assignments and the note cards are worth 100 points but the tests are worth 30 it seems a little weird. It is all there in black and white and there are no essays or meaningful assignments.

              That is fine. Did I ask the teacher if she really told the class there was no time for her to lecture because they had too much to cover? Yes I did. She explained that they do group work instead of lectures because she doesn't have time.

              I am very familiar with the AP program and I have taught AP classes myself. I still believe the program is garbage. Even the best teachers are expected to cover so much material there is no way the kids will even be able to remember it all. Done correctly, those classes are 5 times more work than a college class. I have urged both of my kids to take the classes at the local community college and guarantee themselves the credit and the class plus the book will cost slighly more than taking the test. But they still want to take the class because of the extra point on their GPA.

              The world is not against me. My son has an outstanding AP history teacher this year. He is magnificent.

              AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

              by voracious on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 05:45:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  What other job puts you on probation (0+ / 0-)

      for five years? Five years that they can let you go without even having to give a reason!  Any administrator who can't tell whether someone is doing a good job or not after observing them for five years is unbelievably stupid and lazy.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 05:15:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  houy - in nearly all states unless you are (0+ / 0-)

        a member of a union you are an "at will" employee who can be terminated at any time without any reason even if you have worked for a company for 20 years. How different is that than being on "probation"?

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 05:07:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This movie is tied to Michelle Rhee's group (18+ / 0-)

    Yep any time you see Freedom Works or Rhee in the woodwork be sure you are witnessing advocacy for the demolition of public schools to be replaced by quasi-public schools, schools run as if they are private on the public's dime

  •  And the DNC (14+ / 0-)

    wonders why so many folks delete or throw out their fundraising requests.  I wouldn't give them a plug nickle.  

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:34:26 AM PDT

    •  I hang up on them when they call. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      loblolly, gchaucer2, pgm 01

      I don't even take the time to explain that I only give to individual candidates now. Obviously they weren't listening when I did.

      Purging predominantly minority voters and requiring them to present IDs to vote in the face of VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTENT VOTER FRAUD is RACISM! I hereby declare all consenting Republicans RACISTS until they stand up and object to these practices!

      by Words In Action on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:57:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "anti-union" seems to be a recurring DNC theme (10+ / 0-)

    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:34:29 AM PDT

  •  given obama's choice in former chief of staff (12+ / 0-)

    and secretary of education, it's utterly unsurprising that the DNC is attacking teacher unions.

  •  this convention is at 'Wall Street of the South' (3+ / 0-)

    so this is no surprise.

    without the ants the rainforest dies

    by aliasalias on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:40:58 AM PDT

  •  How politically tone-deaf can this administration (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TJ, aliasalias, Eric Blair, greenbell, Mostel26

    be? I mean, the screening was vetted by the DNC!



    (Forget about the fact that the message is just BAD for universal education and Democracy.)

    This goes in that long list of razor-fisted facepalms that began with the selection of Rahm Emmanuel as the Chief of Staff.

    Purging predominantly minority voters and requiring them to present IDs to vote in the face of VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTENT VOTER FRAUD is RACISM! I hereby declare all consenting Republicans RACISTS until they stand up and object to these practices!

    by Words In Action on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 10:54:21 AM PDT

  •  how do they expect AFT or NEA support with this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aliasalias, greenbell, Mostel26, lonespark

    kind of crap

    Don't roof rack me bro', Now the brown's comin' down; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:25:25 AM PDT

  •  Mixed feelings. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was picked on by "Old Batso" and "Miss Prissy" stereotypes in real life in a school district that was in its early death throes that lead to dissolution. So it's hard for me to have much sympathy.

    OTOH, I'm an odd bedfellow, because I know if the teachers go under the bus, that us APWU guys aren't far behind. I gave lots of bucks to the Wisconsin recall and will probably lend a hand to the CTU if they go on strike.

    Still, I wish that Batso and Prissy would have got called onto the carpet (especially after the Chinon meltdown) and told to quit being so weird and punitive and quit trying to bully the creativity and individuality out of a poor kid.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:26:00 AM PDT

    •  batso and prissy retired (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the teachers working now are much like battered tape them in class, pu tthem on youtube, every kids' test score is scrutinized, teachers are held to blame for everything. I would NEVER tell any young kid to go into teaching unless it was at a swank private school that offered housing or something.

  •  why fake it? Leave the Bank of America sign up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, houyhnhnm

    I would object to the characterization of Michelle Rhee as a Democrat, but she might have better standing to reject my credentials at this point. Showing “Won’t Back Down” at the convention, with what I’ve heard is a real caricature of how teacher’s unions operate, is really kind of a last straw. “Won’t Back Down” is financed by conservative billionaire Phillip Anschutz, and promotes a parent-trigger law that almost always puts schools in the hands of for-profit corporations. It’s big money that’s usually behind these education “reforms,” the chance for a corporation to bleed the state in the name of overhauling a failing school. The idea that students come first is a pipe dream. Lest you think that it was just a coincidental screening in Charlotte, it was vetted among DNC and White House officials, according to the Huffington Post.
    As I said, the platform dances around this tension in education policy – Race to the Top, the competitive grant program which forced multiple right-wing education changes in the states by dangling federal stimulus dollars, isn’t even mentioned directly. But unless teacher’s unions use some of their leverage and make real moves against the Democrats, you’ll continue to see this policy drift.
    (emphasis mine)

    Don't forget, in true Shock Doctrine mentality Arne Duncan said Hurricane Katrina was "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans."
    My praises go out to the Teachers in Chicago who are standing up to the Shock Doctrine policies of Mayor Emanuel , Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee (to name just a few people behind privatizing education), and this administration.

    without the ants the rainforest dies

    by aliasalias on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:32:24 AM PDT

  •  Is this going to be shown at the convention? (0+ / 0-)

    Brand new favorite RSS feed of Daily Kos Radio Podcasts
    Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

    by We Won on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:35:31 AM PDT

  •  I don't want to believe that Obama would (0+ / 0-)

    knowingly allow such a movie to be shown at the convention.  It's a great way to lose all union votes.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:55:02 AM PDT

  •  I'm on the fence as well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have relatives who are teachers and have seen first hand how much damage bad tenured teachers can do. For example, one of my relatives - who has used to teach in an inner city school on the west coast - saw an instance where teacher didn't show up for months at a time and still kept their jobs. Another bad tenured teacher wouldn't assign homework and just show movies to pass the time. There are horrible teachers being protected by teacher's unions. That's a fact.

    There are more wonderful tenured teachers than bad ones. And many school districts who are way too big and asking teachers to take on too much. For example, class sizes in bigger cities have been raised by fifty percent in some cases. However, teacher's unions need to be willing to have a reasonable discussion on eliminating bad teachers and retaining them with the many good ones who had to be let go because they were on the low end of the tenured scale when the last round of budget cuts happened.

    I don't think it's unreasonable for parents to be frustrated with all involved in education because of their collective continued failure to educate children properly. It's not all the teachers fault but they do play a significant part of the problem.

    Finally, although it's only a movie, it does hit at the heart of where many parents think education should go. The current system isn't working and there needs to be huge changes.

    •  It's Also An Exaggeration.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OnlyWords, Mostel26, houyhnhnm, lonespark

      At the same time LAUSD was saying it was sooooo hard to get rid of bad teachers, and that they had endless avenues to stay on the job, an LA Times study revealed that the district, in just the previous two years, had canned over 900 teachers. And that only two of them had successfully appealed. They also discovered, for what it is worth, that almost none of them even bothered to appeal.

      "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
      Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

      by Steve Singiser on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 12:28:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think there's some mythologizing there (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, houyhnhnm, lonespark

      Principals in virtually every school district have the tool they need to fire a tenured teacher for just not showing up for no reason. (Do you really know why the teacher didn't show up?)

      And if you agree there are more wonderful tenured teachers than bad ones, why do you want to take away one of their few remaining protections and help drive them out of the profession? Makes no sense to me.

      Every teachers union I have seen has been more than willing to have a "reasonable discussion" about "eliminating bad teachers." But too often, the discussion is driven, as it was here, by right-wing corporate business  interests, that ASSUME a teacher is "bad" until proven otherwise.  And if the union balks, they are blamed for "not caring about the kids" like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does.

      In fact, the parents involved enough to be "frustrated" are usually in very successful districts, and the failing districts are desperate to get parents involved enough to be "frustrated." That is why this movie HAS no heart, and why it's a lie. Most teachers in failing districts would give their right arms for parents who cared this much.

      The current system is working  in 90% of cases and in the remaining 10% there needs to be huge changes — in helping alleviating the poverty that stands in the way of those kids' learning. THAT is the "huge change" that needs to take place, not making teachers' jobs more demeaning, frustrating and difficult.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

      by anastasia p on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:49:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are bad teachers? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Well fan my brow!  Guess what?  There are bad people in this world.  There are bad people in every walk of life. There always have been and there always will be.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 05:24:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Since we live in the real world (0+ / 0-)

      and not in a fairy tale, this is what those "huge changes" are going to bring about:  Kids sitting in for-profit mcschools doing seat work and copying notes off the board.  Many kids getting no education at all.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 05:41:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some home truths about education. (4+ / 0-)

    Let me say up front that I am pro teacher and pro union. And we have got the debate on education all wrong. If you have a child your child's education is primarily your responsibility. Not the teacher, not the government. The parent is the primary educator in the life of the child. Yet many parents give up entirely on their responsibility as parents. It is easy to blame teachers for the fact that Junior can not read. But the real responsibility lies with Junior's parents.

    I am not a teacher but I am the parent of a college student. A college student who earned a full academic scholarship to go to a prestigious college. We are very proud but we also acknowledge that we, and our kid's teachers worked very hard as did my child. My kid was in classes where other kids parents demanded that teachers dumb down the work even though these were gifted, or honors, or AP or IB classes. My kid graduated with an IB diploma. Less than 20% of the kids who started in IB with my kid graduated with IB diploma. And yet even at the end parents were complaining about grades and that the work was too difficult.

    A high school in Texas spent 60 million on a new football field. Too many kids think the way to college is on the basketball court or the football field. Our society denigrates those with an intellectual bent. And we worship celebrity over accomplishment.

    Teachers and teacher unions are easy targets for the failure of our entire culture to address the fact that we are falling behind the world in education and respect for education and the educated. In many ways denouncing teachers and unions is similar to climate denial and creationism. Learning is hard and many people feel intimidated by it. But instead of providing support and help to help parents do a better job of teaching their kids wee demonize teachers. And we will live to regret it.

    •  completely agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, lonespark

      imo, issue of teachers' unions is mostly a side issue.

      main problems of education in US are poverty and the relatively low value americans put on education.

      •  Especially the low value of education (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lonespark, condorcet

        If we could give parents in poverty the tools to help teach their children. But we must aggressively address poverty and restore dignity to every person and every family and provide help and assistance. Jobs are the best answer but jobs must be supported by daycare and healthcare and training. And we must add dignity and honor to jobs that are critical to our society. Jobs like healthcare and elder-care and childcare. And pay a living wage. Because a job is more than a paycheck. It is a part of who we are and what we are. And use wage fairness to pay for this. We pay most people too little and a few are paid too much. This is dangerous to our society.

    •  What's an IB diploma? (0+ / 0-)

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 05:12:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The International Baccalerauate program (0+ / 0-)

        was set up in Switzerland in 1968 to make sure than students going to highly prestigious universities in Europe from the developing world would have an education to prepare them for Oxford or Cambridge. IB then grew into a world wide high school honors program used around the world. It focus's on international awareness and high academic standards. My kid went to an IB school in suburban Orlando, FL. Right wingers hate it because it provides an international education. Each student must do 120 hours of community service, write a 3500 word long paper on a specific topic, take a year long class in critical thinking skills. Also 4 years of a foreign language, 4 years of math, 4 years of lab science, 4 years of history. IB kids have very little social life. But they get great scholarship offers for college. My kid basically got a free ride. Also to graduate you have to take 6 tests over a two week period like kids in British grammar schools take.

        •  Thanks kmackle - I don't think we have them in CA (0+ / 0-)

          We have a lot of AP courses in our high schools, but I haven't heard of any IB programs here in the SF area.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 05:22:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The programs are similar and count for the same (0+ / 0-)

            college credit but the IB program is more of a unified system. Florida uses it extensively as does England. It is used in Chicago, but not the suburbs. And righties hate it. They see it as anti-American internationalist brainwashing. But in the end AP courses are just as good.

  •  And the Democrats wonder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    why they're struggling to seal the deal against such a poor opponent as Romney. Sure, his super PAC money makes a difference, but it doesn't hurt Romney that the Democrats can't seem to make up their minds what they believe it....

    •  I disagree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      houyhnhnm, Australian2, lonespark

      As frustrating as this is, I don't know a teacher or a teachers union that doesn't realize Romney would spell death for them.  Plenty of teachers and their union were marching in our labor day parade yesterday carrying pro-Obama signs. They know that as much as they may dislike, at least the door is open a crack. With Romney it would be padlocked. And teachers are generally very pragmatic. Not too many purity progressives there.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

      by anastasia p on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 01:51:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, but it's *got* to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, lonespark

        make a difference in enthusiasm. And that matters.

        I really wish the Democrats would stop playing to the GOP tune re: Australia, we love to bash unions, but that's because our current bunch of union leaders really are that bad.

        You won't find one Australian in twenty who says we shouldn't have unions, or the right to unionise.

  •  The movie is not anti-teacher, (0+ / 0-)

    it speaks critically of the union, but does that mean if you oppose the teacher's union, then by default you oppose teachers.

    That's demagogic and dishonest. Furthermore, education needs reform. More times than not the unions have stood in the way of common-sense reforms like paying for performance and getting rid of poor teachers.

    Obama and Emmanuel among others see themselves as reform Democrats, not reactionary Democrats.
    I am not a reactionary, are you?

    •  teachers unions are the teachers. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, houyhnhnm

      unions have not stood in opposition to any common sense reforms; they oppose untested, unresearched bullshit propagated by corporatists who spout all kinds of nonsense until it becomes " conventional wisdom". These are not common sense reforms, these are the destruction of public schools and middle class jobs along with it. The hard research does not support your statements. Try Linda Darling-Hamond, Diane Ravitch, or David Berliner. Or read diaries by Teacherken if you want to converse intelligently, without sounding like a troll...

      •  Typical anti-education dupe or troll (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Our friend "freedomalliance" might be either a dupe who doesn't know much about schools or a libertarian troll that gets some level of satisfaction for insulting the work of teachers. Time will tell.

        We've had a few of these types of creatures here over the years. I haven't seen a few of them in a while.

      •  You're going to have a hard time (0+ / 0-)

        convincing me or the significant majority of American people that juding teachers by their performace is corporatist or destroying public school.

        Give me a break.

    •  pay for performance doesn't work (0+ / 0-)

      Study after study finds merit pay to be an ineffective method of compensating teachers.

      Nice try though.

      Merit pay take down

      •  This actually proves (0+ / 0-)

        merit pay is the right thing, since the best argument you could find against it was written

        by a member of the Shanker Institute, an hack think tank funded by the national teacher's union


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