Guns for Grizzlies: 10 Public School Movie Educators Surely Affected by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Trump Administration

When billionaire Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education, many wondered if she possessed the qualifications and competency to hold the position, given her less than stellar confirmation hearing that included advocating for guns in classrooms in the event of grizzly attacks. Nevertheless, Betsy DeVos is now our Secretary of Education, for worse or for worse.

What does this mean? For our nation’s school children, it’s too soon to tell. But we can safely make the argument that all ten of the following movie educators would be drastically affected by the policies of both Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration. Ten startlingly different examples of public education, these 12 institutions and educators have no concept of a ‘voucher program’ and have dealt with far more gang violence than they have unprovoked grizzly attacks.

The Picture: Dangerous Minds
The School: Carlmont High School
Educator: English Teacher LouAnne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer)

A former Marine, LouAnne Johnson has a no-nonsense approach to running her classroom. She’s rough and tough and employs discipline to keep her students in line. For starters, being a veteran, her health upon entering the classroom under a Trump Administration would be questionable. She might miss hours of her teaching day waiting in line for treatment for even the most common of ailments. Next, her decision to give all of her students an A-grade at the beginning of the year and asking that they maintain it would certainly be intolerable under Secretary DeVos, as it would require her to understand simple grading systems. As for her giving out candy bars as reward for academic merit, this would not present a problem, as President Trump has indicated his affection for foods that cause all sorts of horrible health risks.
Assessment: LouAnne keeps her job, but succombs to V.A.-related health issues.

The Picture: Half-Nelson
The School: Undisclosed Brooklyn high school
Educator: History Teacher Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling)

Considering that Dan Dunne’s teaching style is based around the dialectic method, his tenure as a history teacher would be over, really, before it began. Why? Because – if there’s one thing a Secretary DeVos would hate more than anything else, it would be rigorous debate. When cornered in such a debate, she would shut down intellectually and start rattling off stats about the number of threads per square inch of her Egyptian Cotton sheets. Dunne’s rampant cocaine use wouldn’t be an issue because he would never be suspected of using because he’s not black, and Betsy DeVos knows that only African-Americans use cocaine and commit crimes. Also, the friendly relationship Dunne develops with Drey (Shareeka Epps) would be shot down instantly because it would cause the possible assumption that integration in schools was a good thing.
Assessment: Dunne is fired the moment he uses a word DeVos might not understand.

The Picture: Lean on Me
The School: Eastside High School
Educator: Principal Joe “Crazy Joe” Clark (Morgan Freeman)

No movie educator would thrive under a DeVos/Trump Administration quite like Principal Joe “Crazy Joe” Clark. He expels 300 students as soon as he takes power, chains the doors shut, and even requires the students to learn the school song. This sort of bullish, aggressive administration would be both respected and duplicated throughout the country. That said, DeVos wouldn’t really pay much mind to the school, in general, because it’s an under performing school. She’d have bigger, whiter fish to fry. But, if ever there was cause for DeVos to get involved, you can bet she would applaud the actions of the principal. She wouldn’t give them any more money because teachers are expected to buy all of their own supplies, but she might offer the school some sort of certificate, though she’d surely make them print it off themselves.
Assessment: Clark’s method of administration becomes a model throughout the country.

The Picture: Mr. Holland’s Opus
The School: John F. Kennedy High School
Educator: Music Teacher Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) 

Glenn Holland serves as a music teacher for thirty-years, from 1965 to 1995, inspiring countless students to pursue their musical dreams and ambitions. He is forced into early retirement in 1995 when the Board of Education cuts funding for the music program, thus prompting his students to help him in performing his magnum ‘opus’. Under a DeVos administration, Holland would have never been hired to work as music teacher because the music program would have been cut from Day One. Holland would never inspire his students and his ‘opus’ would go unperformed. Under these circumstances, Holland would have likely become a traveling session player or something of the like until he developed crippling arthritis and was forced to retire. Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos would be sunbathing on her deck with a stack of schools waiting to be underfunded.
Assessment: Holland trades in his opus for dashed dreams and cirrhosis of the liver.

The Picture: One Eight Seven
The School: John Quincy Adams High School
Educator: Science Teacher Trevor Garfield (Samuel L. Jackson)

Under a Trump Administration, Trevor Garfield would win “Teacher of the Year” every year, without a doubt. Here’s a man who severed a student’s finger, murdered another student in cold blood, and then engaged with other students in a rousing game of Russian Roulette. His penchant for torture and mayhem would fit in perfectly with an administration that believes torture is the way to go in pretty much any situation. I can imagine Betsy DeVos taking a tour of the high school, stumbling upon the severed finger in a jar of erasers (that the teacher had to buy), and giving Garfield a sly wink, as if to say, “I feel ya, homie.” Hell, Garfield might even eventually have gone on to be Superintendent, save for his blowing his own brains out during the Roulette. One thing is for certain – murderous behavior is the proper response to student aggression.
Assessment: Garfield posthumously receives accommodations from the Administration.

The Picture: Remember the Titans
The School: T.C. Williams High School
Educator: Football Coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington)

Here is a film about a desegregated school that has to cope with a new black football coach. That said, this film would never have happened under a DeVos reign, as the true story on which it is based would never have happened. A desegregated school? How would the African-American students know they are supposed to be criminals if they are allowed to mix with the white students? Had the desegregation been allowed, it is certain there would have been no assistance offered to Herman Boone in terms of the racism and violence aimed at him. Hell, Steve Bannon would probably be camped out in his front yard with a burning cross and a terrible heat rash. The school would have probably been shut down temporarily, the Titan football program defunded until a white coach was found, and Herman Boone arrested for planted viles of cocaine.
Assessment: Herman Boone is no match for the George Wallace Memorial Administration.

The Picture: Stand and Deliver
The School: James A. Garfield High School
Educator: Math Teacher Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos)

It would be quite difficult for the brilliant math teacher, Jaime Escalante, to bring his inspirational teaching methods to James A. Garfield High School, considering he would have to cross the enormous Trump-built wall after being wrongfully deported. Should he manage to scale the wall somehow, his “ganas” method would be stifled from the constant paranoia associated with waiting on an I.C.E. agent to come and take him away yet again for no apparent reason. Meanwhile, President Trump would be eating a taco salad in the Oval Office to show his solidarity with the Mexican peoples. When asked to show leniency to Escalante, a valued member of the teaching profession, Trump would simply order a second taco salad, because eating fast food is as close to ‘knowing and understanding policy’ as he can get.
Assessment: Escalante is eventually allowed to return to the U.S…as a landscaper.

The Picture: Teachers
The School: John F. Kennedy High School
Educator(s): The Entire Staff (Nick Nolte, Judd Hirsch, William Schallert)

Under a DeVos supremacy, EVERY teacher will end up like Alex Jurrel (Nick Nolte). Years of service will mean nothing, as they will be systemically worn down by an administration that cares nothing for the welfare of either the students or the teachers. When asked why the teachers were treated this way, DeVos will stumble for a moment before blathering something about appreciating the question and hoping to explore the issue in the future. The new administration won’t really affect anyone in the film at all until they are all abruptly fired, the union dismantled, and a government sanctioned team of educators brought in to fix the broken system. DeVos would lead the team but she’ll be blocked from entering the building by protesters. If she does get inside, she’ll be blocked from leaving because she won’t be able to find the door.
Assessment: It’s a movie called Teachers so you know they’re all pretty much fucked now.

The Picture: The Substitute
The School: Columbus High School
Educator: Mercenary Jonathan Shale (Tom Berenger)

While the idea of having a trained mercenary and Vietnam veteran serving as a substitute teacher should appeal to a DeVos and Trump led education system, his subsequent bonding with the students over the similarities between his war time and their gang lives would not be tolerated. Teachers are for teaching, not for human bonding. Shale’s teaching his kids self-defense and combat techniques would also be frowned upon in that they might use those techniques to attempt to overthrow a Trump Administration. And, of course, they would attempt this in that these are inner city kids who – according to Trump – live in ‘Hell’. Years later, however, Shale could very likely be appointed Secretary of Defense. It would certainly be in keeping with the rest of Trump’s cabinet appointments. And it’s Berenger so he’d totally accept.
Assessment: Sometimes it takes an Ivy League mercenary to change some lives.

The Picture: Summer School
The School: Ocean Front High School
Educator: English Teacher Freddy Shoop (Mark Harmon)

The easy-going and lovable Mr. Shoop is a favorite among the students at Ocean Front High School. He wears sunglasses and tropical shirts, lives on the beach, and has a highly intelligent dog as a best friend. That lifestyle will be completely and utterly destroyed under a DeVos tenure. Summer school would most certainly be canceled due to budget constraints, and the P.E. program would, in turn, fall by the wayside. His Ray-Bans would get hocked for money, his home would go into foreclosure, and his dog would have to be put down – don’t ask why. Even if he managed to stay on as a teacher, the moment he allowed students to watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, he’d be out like Flynn. His sort of free-wheeling approach to teaching might have been good enough under a Reagan Administration. Trump don’t play that.
Assessment: Shoop loses it all and ends up sleeping under the boardwalk, down by the sea.

If you’d like to help teachers in classrooms all across the U.S. do the great work they do, please visit:
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Billy Ray Brewton

Billy Ray Brewton

Billy Ray Brewton is a writer/director of stage and screen from Alabama, California, and anywhere else that will take him. Until late-2013, he called Birmingham home, where he founded Theatre Downtown, a community theatre specializing in original and contemporary works. His original musical comedy, “Skanks in a One Horse Town”, was the subject of the documentary, “Skanks”, which premiered at the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival. His debut feature horror film, “Show Yourself”, world premiered at Bruce Campbell’s Horror Film Festival and is currently on the festival circuit. He is in pre-production for his second feature, “Midnights at the Sad Captain”, filming in 2017.
Billy Ray Brewton
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