Before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, filmmakers Sarah Mondale and Vera Aronow couldn’t have known that the new administration would dramatically shift the national debate about education to the very issues at the heart of their film: charter schools, vouchers and privatization. Now, this timely new documentary takes viewers into the world of market-based education “reform”.
BACKPACK FULL OF CASH follows the tumultuous 2013-14 school year in Philadelphia and other cities where public education – starved of resources and undermined by privatization – is at risk. The documentary also showcases a model for improving schools – a well-resourced public school system in Union City, New Jersey, where poor kids are getting a high quality education without charters or vouchers. BACKPACK FULL OF CASH makes the case for public education as a basic civil right.
The film features genuine heroes like the principals, teachers, activists, parents and most hearteningly, students who are fighting for their education. Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, writer David Kirp and policy expert Linda Darling Hammond are among the national thought leaders who provide analysis in the film.
Narrator Matt Damon explains, “I got involved in BACKPACK FULL OF CASH because I believe that every kid should have access to great public schools. I got a great education in public schools and my mom is an educator so I know just how hard teachers work every day.”
Director Sarah Mondale notes, “I come from a family of teachers. I know the value of what public education did for me. Public schools face big challenges, but I think with charters and vouchers, there’s a real danger of undermining the system.” Producer Vera Aronow adds: “We wanted to understand the impact of reforms on the public schools, and give the families and educators who are most affected a chance to tell their own stories.”
The filmmakers are part of the team that made the award-winning, four-part PBS series SCHOOL: The Story of American Public Education narrated by Meryl Streep. BACKPACK is a follow up to the SCHOOL series, and a rebuttal to the widely seen 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman.
Official Website: www.BackpackFullofCash.com