"Won't Back Down" & Latino Parents
"Won't Back Down" & Latino Parents Who Did Just That
Major Motion Picture on Education Reform Inspired by Real Events
“Won’t Back Down” Tells The Story of Parents Uniting to Fix Their Children’s Failing School;
And Now Meet the Latino Parents Who Did Just That…Their Story May be Even More Alarming and Compelling than the Movie
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – A new motion picture released nationwide on Friday, September 28th tells the dramatic story of a parent, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, and a teacher, played by Viola Davis, who join forces to fix their children’s failing school. Produced by Walden Media, “Won’t Back Down” is “inspired by real events.”
Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif., in the bottom 10 percent of schools statewide, is by all standards a failing school. Last year, two-thirds of the children failed the state reading exam. Nearly 80 percent failed the math exam. The school has not met state standards for six years.
Using a “Parent Trigger law” (depicted in the movie as the Fail-Safe law) that was passed in California in 2010, thanks to the efforts of Parent Revolution, the parents of Desert Trails Elementary School secured petition signatures from more than 70 percent of the schools parents and formed a Parents’ Union to bring reform to their children’s failing school.
In the movie, the fictional parent and teacher played by Viola Davis is subjected to personal attacks. But what happened to the parents of Desert Trails is even more alarming. For more than a year, teachers unions and their allies have used bureaucratic games and intimidation to fight the "parent-trigger" school reform. A large immigrant community, the Desert Trails parents were threatened with deportation and their kids with expulsion. They were lied to and harassed. And, there’s evidence that documents may have been falsified in the effort to force parents to rescind their petition signatures.
According to an editorial last March in the Wall Street Journal, “In the Desert Trails parking lot and at front doors across Adelanto, strangers confronted parents and spread untruths about the trigger drive: that it would force the immediate closure of Desert Trails, for example, or result in the firing of all teachers, or cause certain children to be expelled. Some parents heard the trigger drive was an embezzlement scheme. Others had their immigration status questioned.
At least three Adelanto parents have also signed affidavits swearing that the rescission documents bearing their signatures were doctored before being delivered (in photocopied form) to the district. "I am absolutely sure," reads the affidavit of one mother who refused to have her name published for fear of retribution, "that I did not check any of the boxes on the form claiming that I was misled, intimidated or bribed by the Desert Trails Parents Union," which is the group that supports parent trigger. Yet her form on file with the district makes exactly these claims—a remarkable coincidence given the district's rule that it would honor rescissions only if they cited such justifications.”
After nine months of trying to work with the school district, the parents filed suit. Last July, after reviewing all the documents and evidence, the judge ruled on behalf of the parents. Now, despite the judge’s ruling on behalf of the Desert Trails parents, the school district has refused to comply, with one member claiming he’d rather be taken off in handcuffs. A new suit has been filed on behalf of the parents to compel the district to adhere to the judge’s ruling. In the meantime, Desert Trails parents are forced to send their kids to face another year at Desert Trails, which saw test scores drop even lower. The top leadership of the district – including the superintendent and two deputy superintendents –resigned in the past few months. The district is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and is borrowing from reserves just to pay its monthly bills.
The parents of Desert Trails are the reality behind “Won’t Back Down.”
Parent Revolution was founded by Ben Austin, a California native and education reform advocate, in January 2009 to help empower parents to change their child’s failing schools through the same principles employed by unions. The movement launched in Los Angeles, where parents won an early victory with the passage of the historic Public School Choice resolution by the school board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, led by Board Member Yolie Flores.
About Parent Revolution (www.ParentRevolution.org) Parent Revolution was founded in January 2009. Today, the non-profit organization helps parents pass and utilize Parent Trigger laws to transform under-performing schools. Through the use of sophisticated organizing techniques, Parent Revolution helps parents analyze their school’s performance, and organize to create Parents Unions, with the goal of dramatically improve academic outcomes for their children.