BOSTON – Famous movie star Matt Damon continued his crusade against school choice this week with a new documentary about privatization of public schools, despite the fact that his own children attend private school.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts native was in Boston on Wednesday for the debut of “Backpack Full of Cash,” a 90-minute film he narrated about the alleged sins of privatization and school choice, the Boston Globe reports.
“Teachers have been increasingly beat up and devalued for the last two decades, and ultimately we’re all going to pay for that as a society,” Damon told the news site.
He appeared at the screening alongside his mother, Nancy Carlsson-Page, an anti-school choice advocate who helped to kill an effort to expand charter schools in Massachusetts. The film’s producer, Sarah Mondale, is also the daughter of a teacher.
The point of “Backpack Full of Cash” is to decry alleged funding cuts for music and art classes in public schools, and “save” public education.
“To see these kids not have that kind of access – how many of these kids in these schools, how many artists have we lost?” Damon said. “How many learners have just given up because they feel like this is not for them?”
Damon said helped with “Backpack Full of Cash” because public education has been “at the forefront of our family and dinner table conversations my entire life.”
Those conversations, however, convinced Damon to send his own kids to private school – an option he would rather deny to parents who can’t afford it.
When Damon moved to Los Angeles in 2013, he enrolled his four daughters in private school because, he alleged, the city’s public schools weren’t “progressive” enough for him, the Huffington Post reported.
“Sending our kids in my family to private school was a big, big, big deal. And it was a giant family discussion,” Damon told The Guardian. “But it was a circular conversation, really, because ultimately we don’t have a choice. I mean, I pay for a private education and I’m trying to get the one that most matches the public education that I had, but that kind of progressive education no longer exists in the public system. It’s unfair.”
Time magazine called Damon out on “The Bourne Hypocrisy.”
“In addition to the traditional and charter schools in the LA system there are Mandarin immersion schools, magnets with different focuses, and even schools that focus on activism. If none of those schools turn out to work for the Damons that’s still a powerful argument for the ideas he works against publicly: Letting parents and teachers come together to create new public schools that meet the diverse needs of students,” Time’s Andrew Rotherham opined in 2013. “That’s precisely the idea behind public charter schools, an idea derided at the rallies where Damon is celebrated.”
Ironically, Damon was promoting a sci-fi thriller called “Elysium” when he announced plans to send his kids to private school in 2013. The move was about a future world where the ultra rich live in an exclusive space station with special privileges, while the less fortunate are forced to live in earthly slums.
Yesterday, The New York Post reported that Damon signed a contract for an exclusive penthouse in Brooklyn Heights for about $16 million. If the sale goes through it’s expected to be the most expensive residential sale in the borough’s history.
“The Oscar winner previously scoped out a $40-million mansion in Brooklyn Heights last September after his kids were rejected by exclusive Brooklyn private school St. Ann’s,” the Post’s Page Six reports. “Insiders told Page Six that the school – which boasts alumni including Lena Dunham, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jemima Kirke and Zac Posen – told Damon that its classes for that academic year were fully booked.”