BH Interview: Education Reformer Says 'Won't Back Down' Sugarcoats Union Attacks Against Parents

The new film “Won’t Back Down” shows what happens to a single mother and a school teacher who try to initiate a “parent trigger” law that allows concerned citizens to take over failing schools.

Both the mother and the teacher suffer greatly at the hands of forces trying to maintain the status quo.

Ben Austin, founder and President of Parent Revolution, says the film sugarcoats the harsh realities faced by anyone who dares to buck the public education establishment.

The movie really understates the blowback parents have gotten. It’s a G-rated version of reality,” Austin tells Big Hollywood. “If you put in the movie all the things that happened at Desert Trails Elementary School audiences would have not believed it.”

For example, Austin learned about parents “subjected to lies, intimidation … some of the parents are undocumented and [union allies] used that against them,” he says. Austin adds parent pro-union forces forging documents to stop people from using parent trigger laws.

Austin, a liberal Democrat whose group supports educational reform, wasn’t involved in the making of “Won’t Back Down.” Nonetheless he applauds the film’s message and mission.

“Fundamentally, our schools are failing because they’re not designed to succeed,” Austin says. “The defenders of the status quo … use their power to control state legislators, superintendents, elected officials … parents don’t care how much money you have in your PAC.”

School choice remains one of a few issues that bully past ideological partitions.

“I’m a Democrat because I believe in giving opportunity to the people in our society who have the least amount of opportunity,” he says. “Parent trigger laws are about giving parents of color, poor parents, undocumented parents power over the educational destiny of their children.”


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