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Viola Davis: Don’t Forget the Teachers and Public School That Changed Your Life

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Viola Davis is one of the most gifted actors of our time. She has won the Tony Award, the Academy Award, and many other awards. She has never forgotten her humble origins and those who helped her rise to the top.

When she received the Tony award in 2010, she gave a powerful speech. She thanked God, her parents, and her teachers at Central Falls High School in Central Falls, Rhode Island. In that order.

I recall leaping to my feet when I heard her speak in 2010, because that was the very time when the city of Central Falls and the state of Rhode Island threatened to fire the entire staff of the High School that Viola Davis attended. To fire them en masse, from the principal to the lunch room staff. Arne Duncan congratulated the state officials for having the “courage” to fire everyone, and President Obama echoed Arne’s insult.

It was also the year of “Waiting for Superman,” and the corporate assault on the public schools went into high gear.

But then there was Viola Davis, thanking her teachers. I learned later that her own sister was a teacher at Central Falls HS.

But…but…but…then, Viola Davis took a leading role in the film “Won’t Back Down,” funded and produced by arch-evangelical billionaire Philip Anschutz (one of the “Superman” funders). “Won’t Back Down” celebrates the parent trigger, telling the fictional story of a parent and a teacher who were so disgusted with their public school that they gathered signatures and flipped the school over to a charter operator. I didn’t get to see the movie because it opened in 2,500 theatres (Anschutz owns the Regal theatre chain) and its receipts were so bad that it closed within a month and disappeared.

Last night, Viol Davis moderated Laurene Powell Jobs’ XQ extravaganza, which asserted that high schools are obsolete and need to be reinvented.

Viola Davis, please watch the speech you gave at the Oscars at 2010.

We need a real champion for public schools.

Trump and DeVos want to eliminate the schools that made you who you are today. Our public schools need your help. They are far from perfect. They need real reform, not a wrecking ball and disruption.

Viola Davis, help us. Join the millions of parents and educators who want better public schools.

The billionaires don’t need your help. We do. They are using you.

Join the Network for Public Education. Help the children and teachers whom the billionaires despise.

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