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Film about school reform is a story of hope

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: September 30, 2012

The transition from “Norma Rae” to “Won't Back Down” is the story of our times. It's a story of unions founded to bring balance to the workplace and protect the oppressed but then becoming the oppressors, using intimidation, threats and self-preservation strategies that rob children of their due.

“Won't Back Down” will be dismissed by some critics who haven't cleaned an eraser since the 1960s. It's surprisingly balanced, however. The union view isn't shut out or demonized. The failure rate of schools taken over is noted. Real-world Malias face an uncertain future in such places.

What they don't face is the intransigence, indifference and ineptitude of the status-quo schools. Parents who care enough to take over a school will likely care enough to keep the fires burning. Given the well-organized, well-funded, well-connected resistance to education reform, it's a miracle that any reform makes it through the kryptonite brandished by unions.

Among the bogus arguments proffered by reform opponents is that charter schools hurt conventional schools. Heartbreaking scenes in both “Waiting for ‘Superman'” and “Won't Back Down” feature lotteries to get a slot in coveted schools. It's also wrong to think all public schools should be run on the charter model or that no unionized teacher has a passion for teaching. Many do.

The ones who don't, however, are propped up by their union bosses and by pandering politicians. Who loses? Kids like Malia Fitzpatrick. So we will give her the last word, as does the movie:


by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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