Dear Editor: Thank you for featuring the recent opinion piece by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten (“Right-wing agenda drives movie on education”). This new attack on teachers is yet another attempt to demonize those of us in the trenches, while missing an important opportunity to tell remarkable stories about real-life problems and solutions in education.
In an Aug. 31 interview with Deseret News, Maggie Gyllenhall (star of the movie “Won’t Back Down”) said: “I guess for me the movie is a little bit like a fairy tale. It’s not ultra realistic in style or even in terms of the story that it tells.” This is true. And just as we should not use fairy tale movies like “Aladdin” to guide our thinking on the advisability of stepping onto hovering carpets, we should not trust blindingly absurd fairy tales about wicked teachers to guide our education policy.
So-called “parent trigger” laws may seem like a good idea, especially given the many problems that exist in the public schools of our country. But as former Bush administration Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch points out, a school does not belong to 51 percent of the parents who happen to have students attending it at one specific point in time.
Schools belong to all of us, and we must take care not to turn over democratic control of those schools to private organizations. It’s sad to see people in Hollywood — especially Gyllenhall, whose talents as a performer are superb indeed — using their gifts to demonize hardworking educators and the professional organizations that support us.
Eric S. Piotrowski