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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why we made the film AUGUST TO JUNE; to be shown on Nov. 13 at BNS



UPDATE:  the film's screening at the 14th St. Y originally scheduled for Nov. 19 is CANCELLED but it will still be shown at the Brooklyn New School on Tues. November 13.
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The documentary AUGUST TO JUNE will have a screening at the Brooklyn New School, 610 Henry St, Brooklyn, on November 13, at 6:30pm; $5 admission. There will also be free childcare and pizza. RSVP for childcare: lfeather@panix.com  Below is a post by one of the filmmakers, Amy Valens, about why she made this movie. 
When my husband and I set out to film my last year of teaching, 2005-2006, we weren’t sure who the audience for our film would be, but we knew I was teaching in a fast disappearing world: a public school which refused to  twist itself into pretzels to meet No Child Left Behind.  We figured we would capture the natural unfolding of a school year, when the intent of all involved was for actual children in the classroom to inform what and how one teaches.
Our rural California Open Classroom school with 90 plus students was founded by parents in 1971, including one who got elected to the school board to pursue the idea of giving parents a say about how their children were educated.  Over forty years later our school board still listens to parents.  When parents in several of the district’s programs opted their children out of high stakes testing, the district studied their reasons, and decided to support them, even if it meant jeopardized federal funding.   
We have been traveling with the film “AUGUST TO JUNE: Bringing Life to School” for over a year now, and I have a much clearer idea of who the film attracts.  Schools of education are interested in the movie as an example to use with student teachers.  Teachers come for nostalgic reasons and leave the film with tears in their eyes because their classrooms no longer resemble mine.  Others who entered the teaching profession assuming they would “teach the whole child” are now looking for hope that it might still be the case somewhere.  But many of the people who come to see the film are parents who know something needs to change, but are not sure what another way would look like.  
I find myself most engaged with those parents.  For many the film is a 90-minute “aha!”  They come out no longer “wondering if…”   Now it’s: “Where do we start?”  While each situation is different, they are the most influential single constituency who could make change happen.  For every teacher there are 20-150 families whose lives are affected by the dumbing down of public education to filling in multiple choice bubbles. 
Talking with friends and giving feedback to teachers and administrators is the very important “think local” part of what those parents can do.  Then their voices need to be amplified by interacting with larger groups, like Parents Across America or Class Size Matters.  I list many more on our website.
AUGUST TO JUNE will be shown at Brooklyn New School on November 13, at 6:30 pm., and at the 14th Street Y on November 19th at 7 pm.  I look forward to meeting parents and talking further about next steps.  More information about the screening and the film can be found at www.augusttojune.com  
-          Amy Valens, filmmaker and retired teacher, Lagunitas School District, CA

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