I was invited to a pre-screening this week for the new upcoming movie of Won’t Back Down and was asked to write a review. This movie was inspired by actual events and the works of dedicated parents, teachers and advocates across the country. It is about two moms (one was a teacher) who had nothing in common other than they did not want their children to get lost in the system.
MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL (Oscar® nominated actress), as Jamie Fitzpatrick, is a single mom working two jobs and has a child with dyslexia. Her daughter, Malia, was taken out of a good supportive school, because they had to move for more affordable housing. In
her new school, Malia did not fit in -all the kids made fun of her, because she read slowly and made mistakes. Malia’s teacher (bored and annoyed) made her try again only to embarrass her. With the kids laughing at her, Malia gives up and does not want to try anymore. Her self-esteemed ruined.
Maggie learns quickly that in Malia’s new school, there is little to no support for her child’s special needs. When asked if Malia could get extra help after school, her teacher without hesitation responded she does not stay after 3pm. Maggie looks inside the other classrooms and notices Nona Alberts who is played by VIOLA DAVIS (Oscar® nominated & Tony Award winning actress). She went to the school’s Principal to ask for a classroom transfer only to be refused. He himself does not expect much from the students at the school and tells Maggie to lower her expectations as a parent. Running out of options and stuck in a failing school, she runs back to her daughter’s old school to beg them to allow her to make tuition installments which only ends up being ignored.
Restless and determined, Maggie soon finds out she can challenge the school system if she finds a teacher that will support her views then join forces.
Meanwhile, Nona is also dealing with her own personal issues with her son’s challenges and his school – she feels defeated. At work, Nona is unemotional and numb to her colleague/friend’s complaints about another school teacher who happens to be Malia’s teacher. Her friend points out that the “Union” protects the bad teachers and only rewards them further by giving them annual pay raises. Due to their seniority and the way the contracts are written, teachers cannot be fired or easily replaced. It is nearly impossible to get rid of her.
In the movie, you will see it was not easy but Maggie as determined as she was to help her daughter, convinced Nona, other parents, and teachers to go up against the school for change for the sake of all the children.
This movie was heartfelt and very emotional for me especially because I have a child with special needs. I believe in working with the School District as a team, but I also wonder all the time if I’m doing enough and if the school is telling me the truth. Most of the moms I know with an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) are always fighting their School Districts for more support. With the State’s budget cuts, it makes it even more challenging to get the individualized help their children need.
I watched this with a couple of girlfriends – we laughed, cried, and even applauded during this movie. I highly encourage you to grab a parent and go watch this movie. It will inspire you to stand up, speak out, and face your challenges within the schools head-on.
Please help spread the word and share this with your friends. www.facebook.com/WontBackDown
Lets Play OC! aims to provide unbiased editorials. However, I wish to disclose that from time to time I may receive free products or other compensation from companies for blogger reviews.