‘Won’t Back Down’ isn’t true — yet

Hollywood’s Won’t Back Down has “accomplished the impossible,” writes Glenn Garvin in the Miami Herald. It’s made “teachers’ unions demand strict accuracy” in a movie about schools.

For decades, Hollywood has been making movies that show teachers as superhuman caring machines without a peep from the unions. That math teacher played by Edward James Olmos in Stand And Deliver, the one who took over a classroom of kids who couldn’t do simple arithmetic and in nine months had them aceing calculus exams? History does not record a single union official complaining that, in real life, that process took several years.

Won’t Back Down stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as a single working-class mom with a dyslexic daughter and Viola Davis as a sympathetic teacher and parent. They join forces to take over a failing elementary school.

It’s “based on true stories,” the movie claims.

“That conveys the message that parents and teachers took over and ran a school somewhere,” wrote Rita Solnet, a founding member of the teacher-union front group Parents Across America, in a widely reprinted blog item. “That never happened.”

Not yet. But soon.

In southern California, Compton parents lost their parent trigger bid on a technicality. Some moved their kids from McKinley Elementary to Celerity Sirius, a new charter school in a nearby church. The new charter’s Academic Performance Index scores were significantly higher than McKinley’s scores after one year.

Mojave Desert parents are on track to take over Desert Trails Elementary in the fall. Friday, a Superior Court judge ordered the school board to comply with the court order authorizing the conversion. The parents union plans to choose a charter operator on Thursday. Two non-profits that run nearby charter schools are in the running, reports Ed Week.

“We wanted to keep it within the community, to keep it local,” said Doreen Diaz, who is helping lead parents seeking to convert the school to a charter. “They’re very different applicants and they speak to our community.”

At the same time, neither of the two finalists, LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy, in the nearby city of Hesperia, and the Lewis Center for Educational Research, a nonprofit group in neighboring Apple Valley, which oversees two charters, has experience turning around an academically low-performing school.

“Anybody who’s looked at this situation has said it will be very rough,” said Rick Piercy, the president of the Lewis Center.

Can the school be improved under new management? This time, we’ll see.

About Joanne


  1. One of the Lewis Centers schools Joanne is bragging about is 17% free or reduced lunch, compared to 52% for the state. In addition, they have 64% white compared to 28% for the state.

    But I’m suuuuure they aren’t creaming students off the top.

    One of their other schools truly seems to be taking in the hard to teach kids, with poverty levels way about the state’s. Their test schools are nothing to brag about.

    • Peace Corps says:

      GOOD GRIEF!! This is all that Joanne said about the Lewis Center: “At the same time, NEITHER of the two finalists, LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy, in the nearby city of Hesperia, and the Lewis Center for Educational Research, a nonprofit group in neighboring Apple Valley, which oversees two charters, has experience turning around an academically low-performing school.”

      This doesn’t sound like bragging to me. Did you not see the “neither”?

    • Oh Mike, you keep repeating the “selective charters” mantra and you have been for a long time. I’d say that by now you ought to have a smoking gun or two’s worth of evidence, don’t you?

      By the way Mike, what’s the lie you’re trying to foist off this time? Is it that the Lewis Center – Academy for Academic Excellence – is in an area in which there aren’t a lot of blacks or Hispanics? Or is it that Apple Valley’s a relatively well off area so there aren’t that many kids who would qualify for free/reduced lunch?

      In any case, you can put as many “u”s into “sure” as you want but it’s lie until you prove otherwise.

  2. Actually Allen, the data for the K-3 schools shows they enroll lots of Hispanics and blacks? Do you actually read anything before you start spouting nonsense?

    • The ball’s in your court Mike although I know you have no desire to defend your slander. So, how about some evidence that charters select their student body? You, and Caroline, have been making that charge just about forever and you’ve yet to provide a lick of proof.

      Caroline did try defend her similar slander, bless her shriveled soul, but filling out an admission’s form is pretty poor evidence of selectivity. But you’ve never even bothered to try preferring instead to try to substitute raised eyebrow archness for evidence.

      But it’s not evidence so crack loose with some.

  3. http://www.greatschools.org/cgi-bin/ca/other/12210#toc

    But I know you can’t handle facts. The first number is the school, the 2nd number is the state average:

    White 64% 28%
    Hispanic or Latino 20% 49%
    African American 8% 7%
    Multiple or No Response 3% 3%
    Filipino 2% 3%
    Asian 2% 8%
    American Indian or Alaska Native <1% <1%
    Pacific Islander <1% <1%

    Students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch program1 17% 52%
    English language learners2 1% 24%


    I hope your tiny little brain doesn't explode.

  4. Oh, and just for fun here are the numbers for several local charter schools. As before, the first number is the school and the 2nd the state average.

    White, not Hispanic 75% 34%
    Black, not Hispanic 12% 14%
    Hispanic 8% 48%
    Asian/Pacific Islander 5% 4%


    White, not Hispanic 53% 34%
    Black, not Hispanic 29% 14%
    Hispanic 16% 48%
    Asian/Pacific Islander <1% 4%
    American Indian/Alaskan Native <1% <1%

    THAT school seems to have found itself some African-American students, but hardly any Hispanics.


  5. And here are the demographics for the public school right next store to the first school I listed above:

    African American 33%
    White 32%
    Hispanic 29%
    Asian 6%
    Native American <1%

    So tell me Allen, how does the local charter school get 75% white while the school right next door has 32%? In addition, we can't compare the % of economically disadvantage students b/c the charter school doesn't provide that information.

    • Oh, that’s easy. The school right next door isn’t right next door.

      If it were you would have provided the greatschools link to that school just as easily as you provided the link to AAE. But you didn’t so it’s not.

      In any case, still no evidence that charter schools are selective.

      By the way, I thought I’d reveal your lie about AAE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Valley,_California#2010

      Turns out the racial demographics of Apple Valley, CA as of 2010 are white(69.1%), black(1.1%), Hispanic(29.2%). And *that* means that AAE’s white student population, at 64%, is slightly below the local demographic, Hispanics at 20% are also below local demographics but blacks, at 8% are substantially over-represented.

      Since local demographics are largely mirrored in the student population in AAE that means you are, once again, caught lying. Nothing new there but it does show the depths to which you are willing to go to try to protect the public education status quo.

      It really is gratifying to know, and to know that you know, that you’re failing.

      • Or you could have clicked the “compare school” link, looked at the map and seen the name of every school in the city’s district for yourself.

        But then again, you’re allergic to facts so its not like you’d go looking for them.

      • And seriously, you’re using Wikipedia for your facts??

        Since YOU couldn’t be bothered I looked up the demographics for the only other similar population school in Apple Valley.


        Hispanic or Latino 43% 49%
        African American 35% 7%
        White 16% 28%
        Multiple or No Response 4% 3%
        American Indian or Alaska Native <1% <1%
        Filipino <1% 3%
        Pacific Islander <1% <1%

        Please note the 16% white, you do remember which number is which don't you?

      • Oh, what’s the matter Mike? Did mean, old Allen take away your toy comparison of a charter’s school population demographics to the state as a whole? Bad Allen! Bad!

        Now, to get back to your latest lie.

        Desert Mountain Community Day School is a district school. That means the school’s demographic profile is determined by what’s convenient for the district administration. If the district feels it’s more convenient to segregate black kids in their own, little school there’s just not a lot parents can do about it.

        I’m sure everything else is equal though which is crucial. After all, the word to concentrate on in the phrase “separate but equal” is “equal”.

        Another item which I’m sure just slipped your mind and wasn’t a conscious effort at misrepresentation is that Desert Mountain is in the San Bernardino district which has a higher black and Hispanic population then Apple Valley.

        By the way Mike, where’s that evidence that charters are selective?

        I don’t think it’s too much to ask for some explicit evidence of selectivity at a single charter, is it? There are thousands of charters nationwide so somewhere one of them ought to slip up and reveal the dark secret.

        Wouldn’t prove anything about charters as a whole of course and the law’s clear in every state that has charters disallowing selectivity but it would be some real evidence as opposed to your metaphorically raised eye-brow following the sort of cherry-picked “evidence” you’re driven to try to pass off as evidence of selectivity.

        • Yawn, still allergic to facts I see. Sure Allen, a huge majority of white kids, both in Apple Valley and near my home, compared to the local schools where whites are in the majority, are not facts you can accept.

          • Yawn right back at you.

            Do you have a lick of evidence to support the lie you’ve been peddling that charters are selective? So far all you’ve provided are facts you’ve carefully select from which others are supposed to draw the conclusion you’d find oh so convenient. I’m pretty sure that’s not the same thing as evidence.

            By the way, there’s a new threat to the cozy status quo you’re so desperately but unsuccessfully defending – education savings accounts. Jay Greene’s got a link to a Forbes article at his site and the idea’s sweet. Kind of like vouchers but more flexible.

            Quick, start thinking of crude rationalizations to explain why the people you’ve failed should keep putting their faith in you!

  6. I don’t mind that you attribute an out of context quote to me but I do mind that you misrepresent Parents Across America.

    As for Parents Across America . It is a 501-C3 incorporated in Illinois. It is NOT a teacher-union front group. There is a board of directors that comprise parents from around the nation. Your remarks are inaccurate. Given that you don’t share the background of Desert Trails Parent Union, your remarks appear to be intentionally misleading. See Below

    Desert Trails Parents Union is backed and funded by Parent Revolution which was founded by the head of Green Dot Charters.

    Why isn’t that mentioned?


    …….The Desert Trails Parent Union sent out its eight-page letter to school officials countywide, describing their plight and giving recipients detailed guidelines for submitting proposals to help run the school. Although no changes will be made in time for the 2012-13 year, Ben Austin, executive director of the parent union’s nonprofit backer Parent Revolution, said that this is the first time in history that parents will be allowed to select their own school operator. …….

    • Yeah, it’s a teacher-union front group.

      Our very own CarolineSF is a founding member of PURE and relentlessly tries to spread the gospel of the perfection of the public education status quo including the various lies Mike in Texas likes to spread. She’s not much better at it then Mike but then her lies aren’t meant to convince anyone who’s looking for information but to encourage talking-point uniformity across the spectrum of ideologues who are trying to shore up the collapsing public education status quo.

      Oh, and take up your complaints about “out of context” quotes with the source – the Miami Herald to which this blog entry links. While you’re at it perhaps you could provide the context which you claim is absent? There’s a dear.