Before the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the appointment of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, filmmakers Sarah Mondale and Vera Aronow couldn’t have known that the national education debate would dramatically shift 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 is a cautionary tale about how, in cities like Philadelphia, privatization and funding cuts have had a devastating impact on public schools, and the most vulnerable children who rely on them. The film 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 features genuine heroes like the principals, teachers, activists, parents and most hearteningly, students who are fighting for their education. Education writer David Kirp, former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, and policy expert Linda Darling Hammond are among the national thought leaders who provide analysis in the film. BACKPACK builds a case for public education as a basic civil right.