“Backpack Full of Cash” is an educational reform documentary that focuses on the schemes behind the privatization of public schools especially in a neighborhood where it’s predominantly students of color. This movement starved public schools from public funding, while charter schools got both private and public funding. The filmmakers did a great job of making a clear distinction between the two schools, supported by testimony from students, teachers, and administrators.
One of the scenes that stood out to me was in 2011 when Rep Tom Corbet was elected as governor of Philadelphia. Upon him taking office, the funding for education was cut in $1 billion. What did that mean for schools in like North East High school in Philadelphia? The budget for extracurricular and books dropped to zero and thousands of educators were laid off.
Below you can see an overcrowded 9th-grade classroom with 62 students! It was so crowded to a point where students were sitting on windows of classrooms, and others were even standing in the back of the classroom. Here the filmmakers linger on the students sitting on the windows, and you can CLEARLY see the discomfort on the students’ faces. Striking images of I applaud them for taking the time to focus on the conditions of the horrific state of the school.
How are students expected to learn if they aren’t given a comfortable space to complete their work? In this atmosphere, students will be lucky if they can even get to a seat in time.
One of the students interviewed, Dlorah Ortiz, said that “They just took away every help that we need…They just want to see us fail…”
While watching the documentary I have to say that it was frustrating not to get any information from teachers. I feel like professionals who spend a chunk amount of time and effort by working at these schools and with these students, I would assume that they would want their voices to be heard.
Mondale, Sarah, director. Backpack Full of Cash. TrinMoodle, 2016, moodle.trincoll.edu/mod/kalvidres/view.php?id=80338.