Documentary film explores costs of privatizing education
A free screening of “Backpack Full of Cash,” a documentary film about school reform that uses public funds to privatize education, will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. in the Cleveland Heights High School auditorium, 13263 Cedar Road.
The film, narrated by Matt Damon, uses case studies in two urban school districts to explore how charter schools and vouchers undermine America’s public schools and alternatives to strengthen them. “Backpack Full of Cash” views public education as a basic civil right and features principals, teachers, activists, parents and students who are fighting for public education.
A discussion will follow the screening.
Ohio has had charter schools since 1997 and voucher programs since 2006. Privatization affects every district in the state. According to the Columbus Dispatch, last year more than $1 billion went to Ohio charter schools, and $117 million went to Ohio’s three voucher programs.
This year, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District will transfer more than $2.8 million to charter schools and $4.7 million to private/parochial schools for students using publicly funded vouchers. Unlike most districts, more residents of the district use vouchers to enroll in a private school than use public funds to attend a privately operated charter school.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is leading the federal charge to fund vouchers, making it both a state and federal policy initiative with widespread implications for the future of public education.
The screening is sponsored by the Heights Coalition for Public Education, Reaching Heights, Cleveland Heights Teachers Union, Northeast Ohio Friends of Public Education, Progress Northeast Ohio and the Northeast Ohio Branch of the American Association of University Women.
Susie Kaeser is the co-convener of the Heights Coalition for Public Education, a volunteer group of citizens and educators committed to public education.