Skip to content
Know Your Rights
Source: Capital New York
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Video: Teacher- backed group counters 20th Century Fox film with a video about Maggie Gyllenhaal

A group [including Make the Road New York] backed by New York teachers unions has created a video critical of Maggie Gyllenhaal for, perhaps inadvertently, siding against them.

Gyllenhaal stars in a new movie that favorably portrays “trigger laws” that make it easier for public schools to be shut down and restructured.

The movie, Won’t Back Down, is “inspired by actual events” about a parent in a failing school who uses a “parent trigger” law to take over control of the school and hand it to more competent educators. Such laws are supported by anti-union education reformers like Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein and the movie is being distributed by 20th Century Fox, a subsidiary of Klein’s employer, News Corp.

The movie had its world premier in Manhattan earlier this week.

This video, called “Educating Maggie,” was created by New Yorkers for Great Publc Schools and is part of a broader campaign to prevent such takeovers in New York.

“I’m surprised by the controversy to be honest,” Gyllenhaal is shown saying in a red carpet interview, excerpted in this two-minute clip. “It’s clear Gyllenhaal did little by way of research,” a narrator says.

Juan Pagan, a parent leader with New York Communities for Change, a union-backed group that helped put together the video clip, said in a statement, “It’s disappointing to see a great actress like Maggie, who shares so many of my values, being duped by the slick messaging of the pro-corporate education reform movement. For a decade New York Parents have seen what for-profit charter school management companies, like the ones Parent Trigger hands public schools over to, subvert our democracy and hurt our communities.”

The New York chapter of Rhee’s group emailed in support of the movie.

StudentsFirstNY’s executive director, Micah Lasher, described the movie as “invigorating” and inspirational.

“Under parent trigger, a majority of parents can petition for real, transformative changes for their school,” he wrote in an email. “Seven states already have some form of parent trigger laws on the books, and more than 70% voters say they support them. These reforms haven’t come to New York – yet.”

According to Geoff Decker, New York has had “parent trigger” laws “on the books for more than a decade.” But a key facet of New York’s version: it “doesn’t allow any teacher replacement.”

To view the video, click here.