After reading all the blog posts about Freedom Writers, I had no desire to see the movie. That is, until AMC theaters announced that they were letting teachers in for free this week. Not wanting to pass up a bargain, or a free night out with some friends, I went to see it last night. As a movie, it was entertaining. As for anything else, I found it deplorable.
1. Older teachers in the film are portrayed as burnt out bigots who have no desire to teach ghetto kids and who think ghetto kids are worthless and unteachable. (not in my experience a true portrayal)
2. No kid, no matter how good the teacher, will go from being illiterate to a perfect reader and writer in such a short time.
3. No kid who has been turned out of his home by a mother will be allowed to return just because he read Ann Frank.
4. Even if she did succeed with some of the kids, she couldn't have possibly reached them all. It is not realistic to believe that books and writing kept them all out of the streets and prisons and saved them all from gang violence.
Moreover, Ms. G. is a young idealistic young woman who sacrifices her entire life for her students. She works extra jobs to make money to buy them books and take them on weekend trips. Although this was fine for her, it is wrong to expect other teachers to do such things. After all, teaching is a job, like every other job. Teachers have husbands and children and lives outside of the school. This is not 1872 and teachers do not have to sacrifice all for their jobs.
This movie presented teachers as being the only variable in education. A good, caring teacher can move mountains. There is nothing they cannot do. Every child can succeed. Every obstacle can be overcome. Bloomberg and Bush are trying to hold teachers accountable for every failure. If Ms. G. can save everyone, so can every other teacher. It was not fair to present teachers in such a light. AMC gave teachers the tickets to rub in our faces what failures we are because we insist on life outside of school and cannot perform the miracles that were performed in this movie.
Maybe the movie industry should try to make some real movies--show the public what really goes on in a classroom every day. I bet the public would like to see that stuff too.