CHAPTER 20
Education Reform in the Movies
Sara Ravenel
Screenshot 20.3, Won’t Back Down (2012).
Education reform is one of the most controversial topics
dominating the political landscape in the United States. There are two
distinct sides of this debate: the reformers and the reform critics. The
debate over public school reform has morphed into a fierce battle,
which can be called the education wars. The growing contention
between the major education players and the polarity that categorizes
their disagreements has led journalist Jonathan Mahler to question
“whether the debate over school reform has reached a point where
debate is no longer possible.” It seems that there is such a divide between
the opposing sides, a “false dichotomy” perhaps, that productive debate
and conversation have fallen by the wayside. This leads one to wonder:
how can the complex problems surrounding public education be solved
if there is no open, honest debate?
Incredibly powerful teacher unions at both state and national
levels dominate among groups opposing proposed reforms. The two
largest teacher unions at the national level are the American Federation
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