When I spoke with Mr. Barnz, he indicated that he made the movie principally to celebrate teachers. He rattled off a protracted list of relatives who are or have been teachers, so it’s quite apparent that he has an affinity for the profession.
It’s amazing that Mr. Barnz was able to get the movie made, inasmuch as it confronts the education establishment – a theme that would reflexively be perceived as being anti-left. Barnz stated that the film, which was based on an amalgamation of episodes, was written to call attention to the need for change in the education system to better serve the children of America. He had seen both Waiting for Superman and The Lottery, which led him to include in his film a scene reflective of those movies. We both agreed that it is a national scandal that the future of any child in America should be determined by a careening numbered ball.
The movie received a rousing response at the Republican National Convention, and was followed by a panel which included Barnz, Governor Jeb Bush (who should be the next Secretary of Education), and the heroic Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the D.C. school system. Barnz stated that the film received a warm reception at the Democratic National Convention, where they had a similar showing and panel. There was a rumor of protests (an estimated 20% of the delegates are teachers), but nothing ever materialized.
Won’t Back Down may be a Hollywood dramatization, but it speaks well beyond that characterization. The fact that we have moved from documentaries to full-length movies that confront an education establishment that is failing our children on a colossal scale speaks volumes. Barnz just hopes that the initial reaction of the film’s viewers – who tell him that they intend to be an agent of change in their own communities – will resonate throughout the country. God knows we need it.