And So It Begins (Sigh)

If you look on the TEACHED Facebook page, in a response to our post on Nov. 15th, you will see the first of what I expect will be many attempts to disparage the film project (and me) as we get noticed.


There are a LOT of people who benefit from our education system remaining just as it is, no matter how unfair that is to some children, and it looks like someone's already been doing and disseminating research to try to tie me into some imagined group of "corporate reformers trying to destroy public education." 


Of course, the truth is I have committed most of my career (and volunteer time) trying to improve public education for low-income, minority students, and our film's budget definitely doesn't bring to mind the word "corporate," but this is a political and ideological (not a moral) issue for many people. Instead of arguing the issues, many of those who benefit from today's education structure would rather deflect the public's attention away from the issues by disparaging anyone who wants the public to consider them more closely.


When we were just a few months into filming (when I didn't even know what the result would be), the largest teachers union (the National Education Association) publicly considered spending $3 million in a campaign against TEACHED and three other films. That's $3m from teachers' paychecks. Then someone at the NEA proposed they spend $25 million to produce their own film. For $25 million I could make a 100 films (at least!), but if I had that much money?? I would use it to help turn-around a failing school district, or help more low-income kids go to college, or pay hard working teachers more. There's a lot you could do with $25 million.


I don't know what eventually came of those proposals but I do know this: TEACHED is an independent project only made possible because some of us who worked on it did so for free or at reduced rates. Fortunately, I have also had the support of my friends and family to get this far...and, as we move forward, I am going to need more support to take the films on the road and encourage debate about the issues they raise. 


Oh, and as for the accusation that my parents are "CATO activists who want to end public education" (quite a surprise to them I assure you!), I know I shouldn't deign to even respond, but, in this case I will. I mean, c'mon, don't mess with my mom and dad. They would support me if I was making a web series about my dog (spoiler alert: that's coming in 2014).


My father does support CATO (a liberatarian think tank), that's his perogative. He has also helped: launch an interdisciplinary studies program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha with the philosophy and English departments (he was teaching World Civilizations); start a Center on Islamic Studies at the same university (in response to 9/11 and its aftermath); create a program to help Spanish-speaking immigrants learn English and develop job skills; and organize an urban community gardening program. Now he's spearheading an effort to build a completely sustainable eco-village in Omaha. 


My father and I do not agree on everything, but I am damn proud of what he does to benefit others. Please leave my father out of your attempts to to deflect attention away from the issues (don't even think of attacking my mom, her greatest "political" activity would involve choosing which dog to adopt at the local Humane Society), or anyone who has supported me by supporting my vision. 


I'm ready to discuss the issues, are you?
Posted on November 18, 2011 .