The FeedEditionsJobsDonateJune Event
Philly Education News + Views Independent. Reader-Supported.
Menu
Menu
Philly Education News + Views
Independent. Reader-Supported

'Won't Back Down' screened in Philadelphia Wednesday night

  • wont 20back 20down 20 20copy
    Photo: Kait Privitera, for Mayor's Office

a

a

a

By Benjamin Herold
for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner

Mayor Nutter and Pennsylvania State Sen. Anthony WIlliams joined more than a hundred Philadelphians on Wednesday night for a special advance screening of Won’t Back Down, a new movie about education reform that is provoking sharp criticism from teachers' unions. 

In the film, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis play a pair of Pittsburgh moms who join forces to fix their children's failing school. Davis' character is also a teacher at the school.   

Won’t Back Down is both a major motion picture and a polished example of contemporary issue advocacy. Wednesday’s screening was hosted by StudentsFirst, a California-based nonprofit group that has been pushing states to adopt so-called “parent trigger” laws. The laws generally allow parents to petition for a total overhaul of their kids’ schools, if they can get a majority to sign on.

Director Daniel Barnz said his goal was to provoke discussion and action.

"What the film wants to focus on, and what I think many people in the education reform want to focus on, are the kids," Barnz said. 

But the movie’s harsh depiction of a teachers' union didn't sit well with some, including Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan. He was particularly put off by a scene in which teachers say they can’t put in extra hours because of union work rules.

“This is a work of fiction,” Jordan said. “Teachers in Philadelphia stay after school for hours.”

Mayor Nutter generally tried to strike a conciliatory tone, emphasizing the need for stakeholders from across the spectrum to work together.  

Sen. Williams moderated the discussion. He unsuccessfully tried to get the Pennsylvania legislature to enact a parent trigger law last year. He said another version of the bill is "teed up" for consideration later in the fall.   

“Won’t Back Down” opens in theaters on Sept. 28.

 

Get the Notebook in your inbox

Notes from the news
Weekly newsletter
Promotions

Recent Articles

Imani Education Circle Charter School will close next month Notes from the news - May 25 Soda tax up for first test in Council on Wednesday Notes from the news - May 24 Demand for Pre-K is high, but availability varies across neighborhoods