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Baylor to Host September Showing of Public Education Documentary BACKPACK FULL OF CASH [08/13/2018]


Baylor University School of Education and Baylor Movie Mondays, a program of Baylor’s Department of Student Activities, will host a showing of the documentary BACKPACK FULL OF CASH, narrated by Matt Damon and billed as “a film exploring the real cost of privatizing America’s public schools.”

The movie will show at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 10, in the SBC Theatre of the Mayborn Museum Complex. It is free and open to the public.

After the film, an expert panel of education leaders will discuss the film and how the issues explored in it apply to Waco-area schools.

Panelists include:

  • Marcus Nelson, superintendentWaco ISD
  • Bonnie Lesley, co-founder, Texas Kids Can’t Wait
  • Matthew Polk, executive director, Prosper Waco
  • Alexis Neumann, superintendent, Rapoport Academy Public School
  • Erin Wolfe, director of communication, Harmony Public Schools

For those unable to attend on Monday, a second showing will be offered on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 5:30 p.m. in Packard Auditorium (Room 101) of Marrs McLean Science Building on the Baylor campus. Following the Tuesday showing, Talbert will facilitate a discussion of the issues and their impact for educators and preK-12 students.

Both showings are free and open to the public, with non-reserved seating. Parking at the Mayborn is free and available in front or next to the village. For Tuesday, parking is available in the Dutton Garage.

BACKPACK FULL OF CASH follows the tumultuous 2013-14 school year in Philadelphia and other cities where public education — starved of resources and undermined by privatization — is at risk. The documentary also showcases a model for improving schools — a well-resourced public school system in Union City, New Jersey, where poor students are getting a high-quality education without charters or vouchers. BACKPACK FULL OF CASH makes the case for public education as a basic civil right.

The film features genuine heroes like the principals, teachers, activists, parents, and — most hearteningly — students who are fighting for their education. Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch (who spoke in Baylor’s Waco Hall in 2015), writer David Kirp, and policy expert Linda Darling Hammond are among the national thought leaders who provide analysis in the film.

SOE Interim Dean Dr. Terrill Saxon said, “The privatization of education has long been a national issue, and it has recently become intensely relevant in Texas and especially in our city. By viewing this documentary and hearing from knowledgeable panelists with opinions along the spectrum, we will all be better informed about how our children, communities and educational institutions are affected.”

Narrator Matt Damon explains, “I got involved in BACKPACK FULL OF CASH because I believe that every kid should have access to great public schools. I got a great education in public schools and my mom is an educator, so I know just how hard teachers work every day.”

Baylor SOE Associate Dean and Professor Dr. Tony Talbert, a former public school government and history teacher who refers to his field of research and teaching as “Education As Democracy,” says that America’s commitment to our public school system is eroding, and this film looks at the reasons behind that erosion and explores the roots of “market-based education reform.”

“Public schools have been the cornerstone of our American democratic philosophical, cultural, and governance system for over 375 years,” Talbert said. “Quite frankly, anything that undermines our fiduciary commitment to our public schools ultimately erodes the fidelity of our nation’s democratic values. This important documentary not only provides insights to the origins of the rise of the charter and privatization movements but, perhaps more importantly, serves as another clarion call for those who support the historic foundations of our American public schools to proactively and collaboratively join together to reconstruct a system that will serve our communities, our states, our nation, and certainly our world into the centuries that lie ahead.”


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Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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