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  • Is Hollywood Turning on Teachers Unions?

    Earlier this week Politico‘s Ben Smith reported on how tough economic times are leading politicians from both parties to start attacking government unions. Smith writes:

    They’re the whipping boys for a new generation of governors who, thanks to a tanking economy and an assist from editorial boards, feel freer than ever to make political targets out of what was once a protected liberal class of teachers, cops, and other public servants.

    But politicians are not the only ones questioning their old labor allies. Hollywood, who has long been ally of teachers unions (witness the 1998 Rob Reiner funded Proposition 10), is also beginning to notice. Over the past year, three new documentaries The Cartel, Waiting for Superman, and The Lottery have all taken critical looks at our nation’s public school system and produced damning indictments of teachers unions.

    Bob Bowden, who produced and narrated The Cartel says in the movie:

    Those good teachers deserve our respect. Wanting lousy teachers out of the classroom doesn’t mean you’re against all teachers. A point so obvious, I can hardly believe it needs to be made. This absurd idea that you have got to support every teacher, or else you hate all teachers, has been an effective myth put forward by the union for years.

    The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Madeleine Sackler, the director of The Lottery:

    Her initial aim was simple. “Going into the film I was excited just to tell a story,” she says. “A vérité film, a really beautiful, independent story about four families that you wouldn’t know otherwise” in the months leading up to the lottery for the Harlem Success Academy.

    But on the way to making the film she imagined, she “stumbled on this political mayhem—really like a turf war about the future of public education.” Or more accurately, she happened upon a raucous protest outside of a failing public school in which Harlem Success, already filled to capacity, had requested space.

    “We drove by that protest,” Ms. Sackler recalls. “We were on our way to another interview and we jumped out of the van and started filming.” There she discovered that the majority of those protesting the proliferation of charter schools were not even from the neighborhood. They’d come from the Bronx and Queens.

    “They all said ‘We’re not allowed to talk to you. We’re just here to support the parents.’” But there were only two parents there, says Ms. Sackler, and both were members of Acorn. And so, “after not a lot of digging,” she discovered that the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) had paid Acorn, the controversial community organizing group, “half a million dollars for the year.” (It cost less to make the film.)

    And in Waiting for Superman, Davis Guggenheim, who directed and produced An Inconvenient Truth is “is harsh on teachers’ unions, board of education bureaucrats and politicians who give lip service to change.”

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    26 Responses to Is Hollywood Turning on Teachers Unions?

    1. Dash says:

      Thank you for posting these. I've been following The Cartel for a while now and it's good to see there are more like it coming out. Surprised to see one from "Inconvenient Truth" folks… but I wont complain. This system is horrible and needs to be fixed. Here in New Jersey, hopefully Gov Christie can do something about it. We will see.

    2. Armstrong, Texas says:

      How can it be that people are required to pay union dues against their will? Has this ever been challenged in court?

    3. Austin, TX says:

      IIRC (and I'm going on memory), the federal Taft-Hartley Act allows for forced payment of union dues if a majority of the employees in the group vote to unionize, on the theory that since all employees benefit from the collective bargaining, all employees should pay the cost of the bargaining through the union. This has been upheld in federal court.

      Section 14(b) of the Act (the 'right-to-work' provision) allows states to opt out of this provision if the State Legislature elects. TX was one of the first States to do so, and has been a 'right-to-work' state for over 50 years. If you've always lived in TX, you may not be familiar with this.

    4. Bill says:

      It's sad that kids are at the mercy of a Lottery. The billions we spend on education should insure kids the appropriate level of education. The WSJ Had an excellent piece about this movie. My family has supported Corryville Catholic in Cincinnati. Every single one of their eighth grader is going to high school, includi…ng some who are going to college prep high schools. It can be done. We will need to weaken the Teacher's Union to get it done. Hopefully this movie will help grease the wheels of real change.

    5. Steve S. California says:

      Armstrong, the question you ask is as valid as ever. It IS unbelievable that unions get away with what they do. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unless you are of the progressive mindset, you understand that freedom of choice on such things is a fundamental part of liberty. Those that think that they know better are taking the ultimate excuse to rob you of your liberty so that they may amass more power. Plain and simple, their extremist (yes, I did use that word on purpose and I believe accurately) behavior proves that point beyond any reasonable doubt. I have dealt with Government Unions personally in the past, and can tell you that no good comes from people with power who answer to no one. Ever. Our founding fathers understood that principle implicitly and by design tried to protect the people and republic from the scourge of tyranny. Present day unions have all the hallmarks of, you guessed it, Tyranny, by definition.

    6. MJDZFUN, MD says:

      Hallelujah! I have been posting and posting for 2 years now that public education needs to be a high target on the front lines of the battle to right this country! I am so happy to read this article.

    7. Trudger, Los Angeles says:

      This should not come as a surprise. The Hollywood Elite do not send their children to public school… unless they get accepted to Berkeley.

    8. Drew Page, IL says:

      I'm glad to see that our liberal friends in Hollywood are starting to understand the problems with teacher's unions and their demands. The teachers' unions discovered long ago that in most homes, the economy dictates that both mothers and fathers need to work to support the family. This being the case, all the union has to do is threaten a strike and working parents go berserk. "Who is going to stay home with the kids if the teachers go on strike?"

      I've been to scoreas of school board meetings over the past 20 years. Most of the time, there is very little interest on the part of the general public, with only a few citizens showing up. When they do show up it's usually because of recognition of a student or group of students, or possibly to voice a complaint they may have over miscellaneous issues. But just let the union go on strike and you will see a hundred or more parents demanding action from the board. The longer the strike, the angrier the crowd. It's no secret that most school board members keep their phone numbers unlisted. Many times, frustrated and angry parents will tell their school board "I don't care what it takes, get those teachers and kids back in the classrooms". It's the "I DON'T CARE WHAT IT TAKES" part that gets the board to concede to teacher demands.

      People who don't have kids in school, are nearly never seen at a school board meeting. But when property taxes go up to pay for the union demands, these are the people who complain the loudest. Where were they when the angry parents were shouting "I DON'T CARE WHAT IT TAKES"? Because what it takes is money that comes from taxpayers. In Illinois its from property tax payers.

    9. Redman says:

      It’s hard to believe that the media has for so many years gotten away with concealing the relationship between the teachers' unions and the democrat political class. Despite the efforts of individual teachers (some, but by no means all), the unions and school administrators conspire to fatten their own nests at the expense of educating the kids. It is in the best interests of the democrat party for big city schools, which predominately educate minority kids, to provide a lousy, worthless education, so that the kids learn little or nothing, become unemployable when the graduate, if they do, and immediately become welfare recipients and totally dependent on the political class for survival through meager government handouts and programs.

    10. EdSki. NYS says:

      I have no problem with people who want to look out for their own future. I have no problem with people freely joining unions. But I have a real problem when future generations are sentenced to the current state of public education to pay for it.

      These aren't widgets on an assembly line we're talking about here. They are people. When we get old and pass on, they will be America. It's unconsciousable that financial games are being played by unions at their expense.

    11. Rachel says:

      These movies show the change in the wind, but in the long run it is up to parents to see that their kids are educated. Unfortunately, a lot of them see school as a babysitting service. Bad students can make good schools bad as well no matter whether they are public or private.

      This rise in interests in charter schools is good, but I see too many people as seeing it as The Great Solution. Recent studies have shown that, just like public schools, charter schools can vary in sucess.




    12. Bob T. says:

      After watching the clips and reading the article, I am so proud that my son, even with three jobs home schooled his childen. The parents/parent must get involved to save the children. It is a sacrifice, but what is gained is overwhelming. When the schools are not giving he kids what they need, it is up to the parents to help. Often just an hour or so a day helping a child with their studies could be all that is needed. And that help also encourages the child to do their best.

    13. Pingback: Instapundit » Blog Archive » IS HOLLYWOOD turning on the teachers’ unions?…

    14. Lynn Rosen, PA says:

      I'm sorry to be so synical, but when the maker of a bogus, liberal film like "An Inconvenient Truth" makes a film about urban schools, the red flag goes up. Why would Hollywood turn on the unions after being such avid supporters? Perhaps this is all part of the PR plan for federal takeover of all US schools? This administration has been anything but transparent or even interested in getting to the root causes of financial misconduct on the democratic side of the isle. These films all deal with educationally and financially bankrupt democratically run districts. Again, the democrats seem to cause more poverty and destruction to the people they promise in every election to save. I fear redistribution of school tax dollars on a national level.

    15. Freedom's Daugh says:

      About time, and so very long overdue!

      It is not Biblical for women to work outside the home, leaving their children for others to raise. Women need to leave the workforce to take care of their families, and stop being held captive by evil people who do not care for anyone but themselves.

      Look at what home education has achieved and proven; one does not even need a degree or even a high school diploma to home educate for highest success. It has been done.

      What we need is for women to love their families enough to trade their job for them; live on one salary, because the price to do otherwise is too costly. Look to Christian home educating Moms to show the way: they drive used cars, eat casseroles, and wear used clothing so that they can raise moral, hard-working, America-loving children, who are good citizens. And they home educate for very little money, using libraries, etc. to help them.

      Yes, our children ARE that important. My parents, grandparents, and many generations before them thought so, and we need to return to that value again. They are too precious to trade for any earthly treasure.

    16. Carrie, Michigan says:

      All three movies can be found on Netflix. They aren't currently available, but I saved them in my queue for when they come out on DVD. I highly suggest that you do the same if you have this service.

    17. Dave, Las Vegas says:

      So, if we get rid of the teacher's union the schools will suddenly be better? Good luck trying to convince me of that one. I believe they'll be slightly cheaper, and just as horrible, if not worse.

    18. Pingback: Teachers on the Big Screen | DeTocqueville's Daughter

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    20. mousiemarie says:

      It's about time Hollywood came out against teacher's unions. People who live in Los Angeles pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for private schools if they can afford them. If they can't, they send their kids to some of the worst, most union-oriented schools in the country. After a while, even a Hollywood leftist takes notice.

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    24. a fellow patriot says:

      On the other hand these teachers or doing a great job indoctrinating kids on the evils of capitalism and how a Marxist philosophy is by far the best government system and "totally" worthy of revolution in the streets.

      La Raza?

      What's missing in the lecture halls are the 100 million citizens murdered in these "forward looking" world views.

      a fellow patriot

    25. Mike G., Omaha NE says:

      Let's ask why unions are a problem. First, union contracts remove or vitiate accountability by preventing pay-for-performance and by protecting poor teachers. Second, the public context removes financial accountability, leading to unaffordable and unjustified increases in salaries and benefits. Third, union resources – money, publicity, manpower – drawn from a nationwide base can be marshalled to overwhelm state or local advocates of reform. Fourth, bloc voting by union members is a major threat to reform-minded incumbents. There are undoubtedly more. Given the difficulties of electing majorities of reformers to school boards and school committees, it behooves all of us the keep publicizing the problems and contract and pay reforms in our local communities. Does anyone have better ideas?

    26. George Bush says:

      Yes, fire them all

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