As part of Santa Ana Educators Association’s (SAEA) community outreach and education efforts, the 2,500 member chapter hosted an exclusive screening of the documentary “Backpack Full of Cash” narrated by Matt Damon.
The film is a stark observation of the economic impact on traditional schools when funding is diverted to private, for-profit institutions. Though it focuses primarily on the cities of Philadelphia and New Orleans, it’s a must-see for Californians to fully comprehend the long-term impact of privatization on local public schools if the pro-charter movement is not held to the same accountability standards.
Non-Profit OC Public Relations representative Cynthia Tejeda saw the event as an opportunity to educate community members about the impact of unregulated charter school expansion; “The documentary was very insightful, it shed light on the importance of public education. Communities need to be aware in order to collectively address the issues.”
For Oscar Delgado, high school teacher and community member, it was a journey that uncovered privatizers’ motives; “I never knew that the privatization movement was a multi-billion dollar industry until I watched Backpack Full of Cash. It was interesting to me that they go into the inner-city and not into more affluent areas.”
Before the screening, filmgoers enjoyed performances by Santa Ana High School Mariachi Band and NJROTC cadets. An unusually rainy afternoon was no hindrance to those attending the event.
Immediately following the film, a panel of experts hosted a discussion on key local education issues:
Taking a stance on public education; Local effects in Santa Ana; Which charters are authorized by a district vs. other entities; How much funding does a district lose per student?; Oversight of charter schools; Teacher quality; Teacher turnover; Parent choice, Special ed students and Next steps for Santa Ana.
SAEA appreciated the comprehensive dialogue and community interaction fostered by experts in attendance; Julian Vasquez Heilig, California State University Sacramento, Marjorie Cochran, Santa Ana USD Administrator, Donald Cohen, In The Public Interest, Tina Andres, MacArthur Intermediate School, Rigoberto Rodriguez, Santa Ana USD School Board Member and Barbara Pearson, SAEA president.