Courtesy of Kerry Haye
Half of all new teachers will quit within the first five years of their career.
While some teachers simply find another career for which they have more passion, others are unable to truly do the job they envisioned due to poor school funding and student performance. Not only does this leave schools short-staffed, it puts the children in a sticky situation, one where failure becomes an all-too-real possibility.
These facts are beautifully told in the film “Won’t Back Down,” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Dark Knight”) as Jamie Fitzpatrick, a mother concerned about her daughter Malia’s education at her failing elementary school in Pittsburgh.
Fitzpatrick is a single mother living in low-income housing and working two jobs simply to get by. She becomes unable to afford the private school that Malia attended, which gave her a better education and assistance with her dyslexia. Jamie is forced to send her to Adams Elementary, a local public school.
Adams had been state-recognized as a failing school for almost two decades, and many of the teachers had become lazy after they received tenure. Fed up and hell-bent on changing the course of action at Adams, Fitzpatrick and teacher Nona Alberts (Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis, “The Help”) teamed up to go through the lengthy legal process of changing the school system.
“Won’t Back Down” is both funny and intelligent, effectively teaching the audience about the complicated issues involved with teachers unions and charter schools. Even though the subject matter was complex and deep, it was laid out in such a way that even a naïve audience member would understand the plight of people on both sides of the debate.
Additionally, the superior acting by Gyllenhaal, Davis and Holly Hunter (“Jackie”), who played a prominent member of the Teacher’s Association of Pennsylvania, made the story much more relatable and inspirational.
The film is great for all audiences. Even if changing the way a school operates isn’t exactly a movie-goer’s life goal, everyone has dreams. “Won’t Back Down” is a movie that can inspire the average guy to pursue what is right in life.