Matt Damon and I are “in” the same film. I should be thrilled, but it’s a poorly contrived documentary with a storyline worlds apart from the reality of education for most Americans.
Entitled “Backpack Full of Cash” for a phrase I used in an interview with the filmmakers, it posits that the point of any form of education choice – charter schools, opportunity scholarship programs and other alternatives to traditional public schools – is to privatize American education, hence the use of my comments to frame the documentary. The full metaphor is actually focused on equity, and how choice can give power to the least powerful in society when their children are “worth” the same amount of money as everyone else. Then, schools must vie for the privilege of educating our children, versus forcing them into specific schools, chosen by political actors in school systems, and based on one’s ZIP code. Rather than educate the public about these artificial, adult-centered school assignments and their impact on student outcomes, the producers of the film depict those who believe in education choice as people who seek profit and the ruin of public schools, and those who run failing public schools and fight with millions in taxpayer dollars to protect their contracts, their zoning and their turf day after day as selfless characters. What?!
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