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Sensible Talk Front Page Archive for September 2012

September 19, 2012

Can we fight Hollywood's right-wing narrative on public education?

Republicans like to stereotype Hollywood as the Land of Liberals. But when it comes to portraying public education, Hollywood is anything but progressive. The (staged) documentary "Waiting for Superman" played like it was written by the Koch Brothers. Actually, it was produced in part by Philip Anschutz' Walden Media, and Anschutz is another well-known right-wing billionaire who makes the "Koch Brothers look moderate in comparison."

Now Walden Media's doing it again, this month releasing another big-budget, wide-release, anti-public education movie, "Won't Back Down." They've dropped the pretense of a documentary this time, but the film promises the same attacks on teachers and their unions - blaming them for underperforming schools, while never acknowledging the rampant and growing child poverty in America. It's poverty - not bad teachers - that leaves kids without books in the home, food on the table, and beds of their own to sleep in, much less available parents to help with the avalanche of complex homework that today's public schools are often forced to assign.

Funny how you never see a "failing" school with rich students, isn't it?

Why can't Hollywood produce an honest look at public education? Why can't we have a real documentary that tells another side of the story, one that isn't afraid to show that some kids do succeed in public schools, while also educating viewers about the complexity of student needs?

A group of independent filmmakers in the Los Angeles area have filmed just such a movie. But they need your help to get it seen.
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September 2, 2012

Let's Celebrate Labor Day with a 'Right to Bargain' Amendment

Here's my wish for this Labor Day - that someone Democrat in Congress would introduce a proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, to protect the rights of working class Americans to try to get a better deal from their employers.

The "Right to Bargain" amendment would be short - just two sentences. And here's what it would say:

"The right of employees to bargain collectively with their employer shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

That's it. With that amendment in place, no state could pass a law telling certain workers that they can't join a union. No state could prohibit unions from trying to negotiate a better deal for its members. This amendment wouldn't force union membership on anyone, and it wouldn't force employers to accept what a union asked. All it would do is say that elected officials can't tell working Americans that they can't even try to get a better deal for themselves.
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