LESLIE CRISS: Film touting strong schools worth price of ticket

By Leslie Criss

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
– W.B. Yeats

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela

“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”
– Peter F. Drucker
As a former teacher, I am passionate about the learning process. I also believe fervently that all children are entitled to an education. A good education. Not simply a seat in some classroom where a tired, but tenured teacher is biding time.
If you feel the same, you should spring for a ticket and some high-dollar popcorn and treat yourself to the movie “Won’t Back Down.”
Many critics have panned the film, calling it manipulative, melodramatic and more. But everyday movie-going folks like me seem to appreciate it.
It’s one of those movies that got me so excited I wanted to stand up and cheer as the credits rolled. Or, at the very least, quietly applaud.
Single mom Maggie Gyllenhaal works two jobs to support her young daughter who suffers from dyslexia. Viola Davis is an educator with personal problems – including a young son struggling with school – who clearly has lost her enthusiasm for teaching.
The two meet and the story becomes larger.
Davis teaches at the school attended by Gyllenhaal’s daughter. It’s a school that’s been failing for years and has become complacent in its failures.
The two women decide to – with the support of other parents and teachers – take over the school and make it what it should be for the sake of the students.
Of course, it’s not an easy journey. If it were, there’d be no movie – which claims to be based on truth.
Conflicts abound. Doubts develop. But the two fiercely motivated mothers won’t back down.
So inspired was I by the movie, I thought it might be great to change professions, step back into the classroom. But that thought lasted only a moment.
I’ll leave that massive responsibility to the teachers who’ve stuck with it through the years and still believe in the importance of education.
I’ll surrender it to the newer teachers who still have the excitement and energy and effervescence good educators should have.
And I’ll recommend to all teachers everywhere to check out “Won’t Back Down.” I think it will inspire you.

• • •

As the movie began, my friend leaned over and asked what the consistent rumbling was that was making it difficult to hear the dialogue.
I told her it was coming from the film being shown in the room next to ours. I also figured it would stop momentarily.
It did not.
My friend got up from her seat, walked to the concession area and complained about the sound that was detracting from our movie choice. I think there may have been a few others who complained as well, but nothing changed.
The theater folks might think about placing the louder action movies in screening rooms near each other and the more quiet films at the other end of the hall.
It’s something to consider.
It would certainly make us movie-goers happier.
leslie.criss@journalinc.com