Walden Media, the company behind the pro-parent trigger movie "Won't Back Down" that opens nationwide this Friday, has announced a sequel will be made to the film later this year.
Entitled "Won't Back Down II: Ain't Gonna Work On Maggie's Farm," the film picks up where the original "Won't Back Down" left off, with the characters played by Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal running the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania school they wrestled away from the evil teachers union and a powerful and entrenched city bureaucracy.
The film follows the difficulties Davis and Gyllenhaal have in turning the formerly unionized school into a non-union charter. Dispensing with all unions rules, the two erstwhile heroes attempt to turn the school formerly known as ____________ into the "David Levin 'No Excuses' Charter," a school that hold classes seven days a week, eleven hours a day, much of that time given over to skills and drills and preparation for the Pennsylvania's high stakes standardized tests.
Students are only allowed to go to the bathroom twice a day because, as Davis' character explains she learned from famed charter school entrepreneur Geoffrey Canada, "There's no time for anything that doesn't lead to increased student achievement in a school setting!" Children at the David Levin 'No Excuses' charter are urged to save up their bodily functions for as long as they can before asking for a bathroom pass. "Try and wait until you have to do both #1 AND #2!" Gyllenhaal's annoyingly perky character tells her son when he complains about the bathroom rules at the school. "That way, you can save time and practice math simultaneously!"
Soon it becomes apparent that the people running the David Levin 'No Excuses' Charter School have no idea what they're doing and morale among staff plummets as students and parents begin bailing on the school and transferring to a near-by unionized school with regular school hours, a rich, diverse curriculum that privileges something other than test prep, and more flexible bathroom rules. The climax of the film comes as Viola Davis' character realizes the problems in education don't come from unions or teachers; they come from living in a culture that doesn't value learning, living in a society where 20% of children come from families living below the poverty line, and living in a country that is fast becoming a neo-feudal state with the top 1% owning more than 40% of the wealth."
"O my God!" Davis character tells her fellow teachers, "We took over the school, fired all the 'bad' teachers, gave the curriculum over to Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch, spend eleven freaking hours a day drilling these kids for the state tests AND nothing is better for these kids! The children who have abusive drunks for parents STILL have abusive drunks for parents, the ones who live in city shelters STILL live in city shelters, the ones who are so scared about the future that all they do is cry and act out with some negative behavior STILL do all of that. For God sakes, NONE of this has ANYTHING to do with the school or the teachers! We can't solve these problems ON OUR OWN!"
The film ends with a surprise twist that Walden Media is loathe to give away, but suffice it to say, the David Levin "No Excuses" Charter School may be getting another name change by the end of the sequel.
The film is expected to be released some time next year, after all the damage caused by President Obama's Race to the Top program becomes increasingly clear to even some members of the reform community.