GO PUBLIC: ‘Antidote’ to War on Public Schools

truthout-logoIn an Op/Ed piece published on Truthout.com, Dr. Peter Dreier, chair of the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College, brings to light the big money behind many well-publicized attacks on public education and offers GO PUBLIC: A Day in the Life of an American School District as “a welcome antidote to the bleak and misleading message of Waiting for Superman and Won’t Back Down.”

The piece, titled “The Billionaires’ War Against Public Education,” details the efforts of conservative billionaires to use their influence on mass media to blame he struggles of public education on teachers and unions and funnel huge amounts of funding to privatization of one of our most essential institutions. Dreier writes:

Not surprisingly, in both films, teachers are portrayed, with a few exceptions, as uncaring, unqualified, or simply burned out and their unions as too powerful and resistant to change, primarily a protection racket for uninspiring educators. The films’ mantra is that salvation is only possible by enlightened teachers and parents abandoning the desert of public education for the promised land of private charter schools.

Dreier devotes much of his essay to celebrating GO PUBLIC and our approach to evenhandedly examining both the good that is happening every day in our schools as well as the challenges of providing quality education and services in the current environment:

The result of the O’Keeffes’ effort is a remarkable 90-minute film that examines the daily realities of an urban public school system – the Pasadena (California) Unified School District (PUSD), where two-thirds of the 18,000 students come from low-income families, where many parents are jobless, where many students live in homes where Spanish is the first (and in some cases only) language, and in a state where per-student funding ranks 47th in the country.

There is no narrator to offer hints about what we’re seeing and what we should think about it. The O’Keeffes have no axe to grind other than to present a balanced exploration into the lives of these families and educators.

His conclusion: “In this way, Go Public challenges the growing chorus of hostility to public schools reflected in Waiting for Superman and Won’t Back Down and pushed by the corporate-funded advocates of school privatization.”

Dr. Dreier’s essay continues by addressing “the achievement gap” and the solutions to many of the challenges facing public schools, as well as the slanted criticism proponents of privatization have promoted.

Read the enlightening essay in its entirety here: