When I dropped my daughter off at an inner city Philadelphia School for kindergarten, I tried to keep my emotions in check. It was the first time in five years I’d been separated from my daughter, but I didn’t want to cry in front of the other latte-sipping parents. After all, the school looked welcoming enough, and the teachers were kind. But I really got a lump in my throat when they divided up the kids by class, and I counted the little heads in my daughter’s first kindergarten class.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of helplessness a mom feels when sending a child into a less than ideal situation. But mothers all across the nation feel that trepidation every single day, because American public schools are failing in almost every measurable way. This was dramatically demonstrated when Chicago teachers — who make on average $74,839 per year — demanded more pay, refused to lengthen their already short school day, and didn’t want evaluations tied to performance. And this when 80 percent of Chicago eighth graders don’t meet reading or math grade level requirement and 40 percent drop out before graduating.Some parents have given up on public school for the greener (and more expensive) grass of private schools. Others have opted for homeschooling.
But a new movie called “Won’t Back Down,” explores what parents and teachers at public schools can do to help change the public schools from within. The film, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, definitely makes moviegoers feel –- in the gut –- what we know in our heads: far too many schools aren’t teaching subjects, delivering reasonable results, or prioritizing students.