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“Won’t Back Down” Might Make Debate

Alexander Russo | October 1, 2012



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Reviews of the new release “Won’t Back Down” vary widely and tend to conform with pre-existing views on education reform issues.

Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal

Critics like The Nation’s Dana Goldstein describe it as a mean-spirited caricature of classroom teachers funded by a conservative millionaire who wants to destroy public schools — a 2012 version of  “Waiting For Superman.”

Supporters describe it as a heartwarming depiction of parents and teachers getting together to say, “We can do better.”  The Manhattan Institute’s Ben Boychuk gives it a glowing review here.

Pretty much everyone agrees that it’s not a great film dramatically, and that we don’t really know whether the parent trigger can literally make a bad school better. However, the issue is a powerful one and there’s an outside chance that Jim Lehrer will ask the presidential candidates about the movie at the debate on Wednesday. That is, if education gets a question at all.

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