Terror At The Shore!

Maggie Gyllenhaal: It's Over, Baby.


Maggie G

This is awkward. We've had the whole "old man with pathetic celebrity crush" thing going on for a while now.  Since Secretary, actually. And it's been good for both of us.  Right? We had some good times: I watched your brilliant performance in the unbearably depressing Sherrybaby. I was momentarily sad when your character got killed in The Dark Knight. I even briefly considered watching Mona Lisa Smile just because you were in it.  That's how deep this went for me.

But I'm afraid it's over.  

It's not you.

Okay, actually it is you.  Or, rather, your career choices.  You're appearing in an anti-public education propaganda film entitled Won't Back Down.

I'm a little surprised that you, an ostensible liberal, are appearing in this movie.  But then a lot of ostensible liberals are opponents of public education these days. I think this is because a lot of Democratic mayors, like Nickelback fan Rahm Emanuel, have to negotiate against teachers' unions.

Here's the bottom line, Maggie.  You and I both attended private schools.  I went to Seven Hills in Cincinnati, while you attended Harvard-Westlake in L.A.  What we got in these schools was small classes, individual attention, and the sense that we mattered.

Any so-called education reform that doesn't start with providing that for all children regardless of parental income is cynical bullshit that is really about something else.

Like the union-busting parent trigger laws you're currently shilling for.  

Ask yourself this: would the Walton family, of Wal-Mart fame, back any education reforms that might lead to class mobility and equal opportunity for all students?  Of course not. Their fortune depends on the existence of an underclass with few career options to staff their stores. 

Also, this: the evil teacher's unions like those caricatured in your new movie--well, if you follow contract negotiations at all, you'll find that one of the things those horrible unions are always advocating for is...wait for it...smaller class size.  I think it was capped at 18 in my high school.  What was it at yours? What is it at the public high school closest to you?  30? 35?  How much learning do you think goes on in a class that size?

Here's another question for you: if the education reforms that your buddy who runs Walden Media and his rich pals are backing are so awesome, why aren't they demanding the same for their own kids?  Are kids at Harvard-Westlake subjected to state-mandated standardized testing every year? I'll bet they aren't.  Are teachers at Harvard-Westlake evaluated based on these standardized test scores?  Oh, wait, the kids aren't taking the tests.  Well, now, this is really weird.  If the richest people in the country don't want this stuff for their kids, why do they want it for mine?  

Got any ideas? 

Here's one:  "Education Reform" as it currently exists is about breaking teachers' unions.  Do I have to point out to you why the Walton family might have a slight anti-union bias?  But it's also about more than that.  It's about ensuring that our education system doesn't break down barriers to class mobility, but, rather, solidifies them.  Kids attending our alma maters get their intellects valued and learn critical thinking and are taught in a thousand subtle ways that they matter.  Whereas my kids, who attend public high schools, get treated like numbers and get trained to obey orders.  I just got back from an open house at my kids' high school where the geometry teacher told me how he can't really spend the whole year on geometry because he has to do a lot of test prep for the big 10th grade standardized test here in Massachusetts.  Do you think the same is true of tenth graders in private schools?

So, yeah. You've willingly signed on to be the (hot, sexy) face of aggrieved parents who will not really benefit when private companies take over their schools as a result of "parent trigger" laws.  You're part of a movement that is attacking not only teachers and their unions, but the very idea of public good.  Nice job.

It's over.  I'm sure you'll continue to be both talented and attractive, but I'm no longer interested. 

I'm sure that my uncompromising stance on this issue has made you regret your decision to appear in corporate propaganda.  Please tell Anne Hathaway how serious I am about this.