In Won’t Back Down, the latest misleading film about school reform, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a hot, slutty, single-mom bartender, who gets guys drunk, then, after getting off work, has sex with them. That’s how she ends up with a disheveled-looking daughter in elementary school, who is dyslexic.
And mom is hopping mad at her daughter’s teacher, who is a union member, for not curing her daughter’s learning disability. So, empowered by “parent trigger” laws sweeping the nation under the school-reform agenda, Maggie/mom decides to take over her daughter’s school and vengefully fire all the teachers she does not like.
In one early scene, however, Maggie/mom does meet a teacher at the school that she actually approves of. He is a young Teach For America teacher (actor Oscar Isaac), with his own nice ass in tight jeans.
“Your (ass) isn’t so bad,” says Maggie/mom to Oscar/Mr. Teach For America, while visiting his classroom for the first time.
That same night, mom and Mr. TFA get drunk and have sex. The very next night, this stranger with the hot ass, whom mom has only recently met, is babysitting her daughter, as mom goes out to convince the people of Pittsburgh she should be allowed to take control of her daughter’s school.
Here, the movie’s simplistic message becomes clear: Union teachers in struggling public schools need to be replaced by the dysfunctional parents of children in those schools — because union teachers are bad and stupid whereas the dysfunctional parents are really good and smart.
Notably, the hormonally challenged Teach For America guy has no qualm about having sex with parents of students at his school. No surprise there.
Teach For America is a group of youthful, wanna-be teachers whose main model in life is Michelle Rhee, former short-term chancellor of Washington D.C.’s schools when that district was reportedly engaged in a cheating scandal. Before that failed gig, when she was simply a Teach For America teacher, Rhee would duct-tape shut her second-grade students’ mouths, for talking, until their little lips bled. Apparently, ethics has never been a big theme during Teach For America’s brief five-week teacher-training program.
The politically active producer of Won’t Back Down is billionaire Philip Anschutz. He also produced the anti-public education documentary Waiting For “Superman,” which made Teach For America alumna Rhee famous. Even further, the ultraconservative Anschutz, like those guys from Chick-fil-A, has reportedly donated money to anti-gay groups. And, as with the fictionalized Maggie/mom in Won’t Back Down, he hopes to take over public education in America with his views. You know, to get rid of that which he doesn’t like very much.
In a bizarre plot twist to the film, a teacher (Viola Davis) has a son that school officials think should be in “remedial” classes. But the mom/teacher does not. So she unites with Maggie/mom to take over the school and fire those teachers and officials she doesn’t like. Near the film’s end, though, we learn that mom/teacher was drinking and driving years earlier, crashing and causing brain damage to her son, who, it turns out, really does need “remedial” education. When she confesses this surprising story to him, the prepubescent boy invites his weeping mom into his bed and starts fondling and kissing her in ways creepily unnatural. One can almost hear pedophiles in the back rows of theaters urging this kid to tap that momma’s ass.
Sadly, this is a sick-ass movie created by some seriously sick-ass adults, otherwise known as “reformers.” Let the ticket-buyer beware.
CHIP MOSHER is a simple classroom teacher.