( 4UMF NEWS ) Won’t Back Down Movie Review:
What would you do if your dyslexic child attended a failing school and you couldn’t afford to move or pay for private school?
Set in Pittsburgh, Won’t Back Down is inspired by true events of parents taking control of a public schoolthrough a recently passed law. The Parent Trigger law, which was passed in California and other states in 2010, permits parents to petition to enforce administrative overhaul and overrule administrators in failing public schools. If successful, petitions allow for parents to direct changes like the curriculum or dismissal of staff and it allows the potential conversion of a school to a charter school.
Jamie Fitzpatrick, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, goes on a quest to turn around the failing school that her dyslexic daughter attends. She recruits teacher Nona Alberts, who’s own son is struggling in his studies, after their children fail to win a spot at a charter school through a lottery. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy and corruption within the teacher’s union president and the school’s principal, Roberts and Fitzpatrick risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children and the children in the community.
Confronted with the reality that one out of four children will grow up in this country not knowing how to read properly, Fitzpatrick is determined not to let her daughter, Malia, become a statistic. With a wide-eyed unabashed enthusiasm she protects Malia from falling through the scholastic cracks like a mama bear protects her cubs.
Academy-award winning Viola Davis plays Alberts, the teacher turned reluctant hero that’s nearly given up on all of her students except her own son. As Alberts goes through a separation from her husband, her passion for educating is reborn and we see the fire grow inside of her. Davis is a master of her craft; the Julliard-trained actress gives another powerful performance worthy of a nomination.
Won’t Back Down should inspire us all to not take ‘No’ for an answer, to not wait for change but be the change especially when something as important as our children’s education is at stake.