The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Teacher movie ends up more uplifting than controversial

By Kelli Henderson/entertainment editor

Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal fight for the children they care about and what they believe in during Won’t Back Down. The film has been criticized for its portrayal of teachers as lazy.
Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox

The new film Won’t Back Down is inspiring and full of tears and laughter. But what some may see as a fight for change, others see as a controversial flick with anti-union views.

Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a frustrated single mom fed up with her dyslexic child’s failing school and the school’s lack of resources, including teachers. She wants something better for her daughter and decides to make a change.

With the help of Nona Alberts (Viola Davis), a depressed teacher at the failing school, Fitzpatrick beats the odds and the bureaucratic system trying to make her fail.

The film already has taken some heat from critics. The film shows a failing school with teachers who would rather text than help students read and who show up just to get a paycheck because of the teacher’s union.

Union workers and teachers have started protesting the film’s premieres, saying the film gives viewers, particularly parents, false hope about using the Parent Trigger law.

The law, which has been passed in several states, including Texas, states that a majority of parents can implement changes in a school. In California, they have the right to fire administrators, turn the failing school into a charter school or shut down the school completely. This is what Fitzpatrick uses in the film.

Of course, not every state has the law, including Pennsylvania, which is a problem because the movie was filmed in Pittsburgh. Now that is unrealistic.

Director Daniel Barnz said bashing the teacher’s union is not his intention or one of the messages he wants to prevail. But pinning the activists against the union, even picketing right next to each other is not a good way of showing it.

The film does have some good meanings. The women fight so hard for what they believe and have so much passion that it rubs off onto the audience, and one can leave the theater wanting to make a difference.

Won’t Back Down, believe the criticism or not, is a good movie. Although it has ruffled a few feathers, it has an all-star cast and an inspiring story.

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