We’re currently fundraising for our documentary on the privatization of public education.
It’s a story that’s never been told, but we need your help telling it…
Public education is the heart of our Democracy.
A school is the last place where people from different classes and different walks of life come together to learn, to share ideas and to be afforded a fair opportunity to reach for the American dream. It is because of public education that America was able to develop a vibrant middle class that defined our Democracy and powered our post-War booming economy.
But today, an unholy alliance of wealthy conservatives and hedge fund managers have declared war on public education. Their goal is to dismantle public schools, and ultimately to destroy the middle class and the opportunity of upward mobility that defines the can-do American spirit.
For years, this alliance has been thwarted in its effort to use tax dollars to pay for private school tuitions and to privatize schools into for-profit, money-making enterprises. But now they have created a powerful new myth in order to break the public schools once and for all: the Myth of the Charter School.
In fact, this myth is so powerful – and their propaganda so effective – that many wealthy progressives have now joined their cause, despite the fact that 34% of charter schools perform worse than the public schools and only 14% perform better.
The truth is, public schools in America are alive and well. Many are doing great and innovative things, and continue to be among the best in the world. Only 2% are failing and the cause is clear: the cycle of poverty. The only real threat to our quality schools comes from those who seek to dismantle them or extract wealth out of them for themselves, while the solutions lie with those who want to build them up rather than tear them down.
This documentary will expose this unholy alliance, examining their motives and how they are manufacturing a myth about the public schools in order to destroy them – and how this is part of a larger strategy to weaken the middle class and consolidate their wealth and power.
- We’ll ask these wealthy conservatives and hedge fund managers how they justify the way charter schools leave public schools in even worse shape by diverting badly needed resources away from them.
- We’ll show that many of the successful charter schools have extraordinary levels of funding – one school frequently used as an example of a successful charter school has $194 million in funding, invested by those who think they can profit by diverting tax dollars from the public schools into their charter school, and another has a marketing budget alone of $1.3 million. Then, we’ll ask students, teachers and administrators to dream and envision what a school system with this kind of nearly unlimited funding could accomplish.
- We’ll examine the motives for this unlikely consortium who want to siphon funds away from public schools. This includes the conservatives who have long wanted tax dollars to pay private school tuitions, the hedge fund managers who see the opportunity for big profits in privatized education and the wealthy progressives who, rather than trying to fix the 2% of the schools in trouble, have joined in the effort to undermine the other 98%.
- We’ll show innovative public school teachers at work, and examine how they are creating inventive models that inspire kids and excite their parents. We’ll let students speak for themselves about the role that teachers play in their lives.
- We’ll spend time in Cincinnati, Ohio, showing that when businesses, educators, and politicians work together, student achievement soars at public schools. We’ll examine why these leaders chose to build up the public schools rather than tear them down, in contrast to the leaders of the alliance who have chosen to undermine public schools.
- We’ll look at the role of poverty in the 2% of schools that are failing, and show how the schools are not the reason that there are crack vials on the streets, abandoned houses, and high unemployment.
- We’ll examine the two models of public schools that are competing right now. In one, public schools follow a cooperative model, where all schools work together under the theory that a rising tide lifts all boats. This is the model that our public schools were founded on, and it helped our Democracy and our middle class thrive. In the other model, schools follow a competitive model, designed to serve those at the top of the economic food chain, while ensuring that the vast majority of Americans never learn the critical thinking skills necessary to break out of the bottom of the economy.
- We’ll also look at how the recent war on teachers is meant to undermine the middle class and further weaken public education. Teachers are the last huge middle class group left in this country, so it’s no surprise that the anti-public education groups sought recently to demonize them, to cut their middle class wages and take away the freedom to do their job without political interference.
Eventually we must choose between two visions of the world. In one, most Americans will see declining wages, high unemployment, and few opportunities, while the wealthy will consolidate and expand their wealth and power. In the other, we have a thriving democracy and a growing middle class, with safe, clean neighborhoods, and where the American Dream continues to pass from generation to generation. This war on public schools seems to be the last big battle, because schools are the last great institution of the middle class and of American democracy.
To find out how you can get involved, send us a note.