WHAT KIND OF DAMN FOOLS make movies about education? And what kind of damn fools review them?
Those were my thoughts when I picked up the New York Times recently and saw Frank Bruni’s column, “Teachers on the Defensive.”
Bruni has no children and normally writes about food. Now he had decided to go all “two thumbs up” and review the forthcoming movie, “Won’t Back Down” (in theaters starting September 28). He calls it a David and Goliath story about a mother fighting to save her daughter from being required to attend a failing public elementary school. Randi Weingarten, “powerful president of the American Federation of Teachers,” gets a brief mention in his column. But no practicing teacher (Weingarten last spent a day in a classroom in 1997) appears in the story.
Bruni admits the people backing the film are sworn enemies of teachers’ unions. He brushes that aside. As he sees it, teachers unions have lost their way and represent the great impediment to needed change. He’s surprised to discover teachers and their unions are less than pleased with U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (who, if Bruni interviewed me, I might label an “insufferable ass”). He mentions “Race to the Top,” Duncan’s bold initiative to save America’s schools. He mentions unanimous agreement, cutting across party lines, at a recent conference of mayors, endorsing “parent trigger legislation.”