Here is a compilation of the performances of Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up! at the Loews Lincoln Square movie theater at the Waiting for Superman premiere on Sept. 24, 2010. It includes a brief section of the Real Reformers running into Michael Moore on the street (It was opening night at the NY Film Festival.) See press release below.
Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Contact: Norm Scott: 917-992-3734
Parents and Teachers, the Real Reformers, Organize Response to “Waiting for Superman”
On Friday, September 24th, parents and teachers participated in a demonstration outside of the premier of “Waiting for Superman”. The film, which has garnered significant publicity in recent days, has taken the lead in framing the conversation regarding education reform. A grass roots group, The Real Reformers, reject this framework and offered an alternative voice to the conversation.
Explaining the impetus for Friday night’s actions and the development of a forthcoming grassroots documentary, Julie Cavanagh, a teacher in Red Hook, Brooklyn said, “We felt compelled to demonstrate a resistance to a film that can be described only as propaganda. The film continues to propagate myths about the so-called crisis in education and further espouses false claims about supposed reforms and reformers that are garnering much of the media’s attention right now. It is time for Real Reformers to stand up, and lead the conversation on what works in our public schools, and the policies needed to improve our public schools. There are no easy answers. Viewing charter schools as a silver bullet and blaming teachers, the vast majority of whom work tirelessly for students and families every day, is part of a larger movement to privatize public education. We must be vigilant in protecting, while improving, true public education, the pillar of our democracy.”
Lisa Donlan, a public school parent and President of Community Education Council One added, “For too long now our children have been the pawns of powerful politicians and their handpicked bureaucrats who paint themselves as reformers while they reinforce the status quo, depriving our neediest children of the quality education that is their birthright. No man, not even Superman can alter the sad reality: the achievement gap persists, our schools and communities are segregated and less money is spent on students despite tripled budgets. In the words of Frederick Douglass in 1857: “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Outside of the Loews Lincoln Square movie theater, the Real Reformers stood up and presented their vision for real education reform. The Grassroots Education Movement provided two pieces of literature including: “The Inconvenient Truth About Waiting for Superman” which outlined information regarding misleading and factually inaccurate claims in the movie and “The Truth About Charter Schools”, a brochure that outlines “myths” and “truths” about charter schools. The group also released the trailer for their upcoming documentary, “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman”, which will be shown in New York City neighborhoods, and across the country, this fall. The trailer for this film is posted at http://www.waitingforsupermantruth.org/.
Parents and Teachers also engaged in a flash mob performance of “Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up”. (The video of this performance and the movie trailer can be found at (see the trailer at: http://www.waitingforsupermantruth.org).
Various groups were represented at Friday night’s event. Attendees expressed a myriad of objections to the film, while joining in a shared mission to expose the narrow lens with which Guggenheim tells his story.
Mona Davids, President of the New York Charter Parents Association commented, “The so-called education reformers consisting of hedge fund millionaires and billionaires do not respect parents and the communities of color they serve. Charters in NYC have been denying parents their civil rights by vehemently opposing PA/PTA’s in charters. NYCPA in it’s one year of existence has brought about charter reform including charters serving special education and English Language Learners; PA/PTA’s in every charter in NYC; audits by the state comptroller; public lotteries; monthly board meetings, stronger conflict of interests requirements and the ban of for-profit charter schools, to name a few. These reforms should have been enacted 10 years ago. It’s hypocritical of the charter lobby and education reformers to say this is the civil rights issue of our time when they are refusing to comply with the revised charter law requiring PA/PTA’s in charters and violating the civil rights of charter parents. Apparently, their children attending private schools can have PA/PTA’s but not the children of color attending publicly funded privately run charter schools. Charter parents don’t matter. Just the per pupil funding does!”
Sam Coleman, a teacher in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and member of Grassroots Education Movement and NYCORE, had another take, “The insinuation that teachers and teacher unions are to blame for what ails public education is insulting to teachers and distracts from the real issues. Talk to students who are getting police records for school hallway scuffles about what is stopping them from graduating and getting a job. Talk to high school students who are also parents and are forced to drop out because there is no childcare in their schools. Talk to immigrant students who cannot go to college because of their immigration status, or to queer youth who are bullied and pushed out of school. Ask any of them; their stories reveal the complexity of what ails our educational system. Let’s stop blaming teachers and teacher unions. Let’s give control of education to communities and educators. Let’s fund communities equitably and let the corporate lawyers hold bake sales to buy their shredders.”
Lisa Donlan, Parent: 917-848-5873
Mona Davids, Parent: 917-340-8987
Sam Coleman, Teacher: 646-354-9362
Julie Cavanagh, Teacher: 917-836-6465