Wednesday, April 07, 2010

TONIGHT is the premiere of A Right Denied: The Critical Need for Genuine School Reform

TONIGHT is the premiere of A Right Denied: The Critical Need for Genuine School Reform (the two-minute trailer is posted here:  More than 800 people have RSVP'd to the two showings; the evening one is sold out, but if you want to come to the afternoon showing at 2pm, just show up (it's too late for RSVPs and nametags) – the details are in the invite below.  


If you can't make it in person, you can order the DVD at – it began shipping this week.  It's $25 and for all orders this month, $10 will go to TFA and KIPP.

I'm writing to invite you to a special event in NYC on Wednesday, April 7th: the premiere of A Right Denied: The Critical Need for Genuine School Reform, a documentary in which I present my research and conclusions about our public schools and what must be done to eliminate the twin achievement gaps that threaten our nation's future.  The two-minute trailer is posted here:  
The event will be at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St. (between 8th and 9th Avenues), and there will be two showings: one in the afternoon and one in the evening.  The evening premiere is already sold out (nearly 500 people!), but there's plenty of room at the afternoon showing, which we just added to meet the demand.  I hope you can make it in the afternoon – if not, I can add you to the waiting list for the evening showing.
The afternoon premiere will begin with soft drinks, snacks and mingling at 2:00pm, then the film from 2:45-4:15, followed by an hour-long discussion/Q&A with some of the leading education reformers in the country until 5:15, and finally more drinks, food and mingling until 6:00.  
Those coming for the evening premiere can come and mingle starting at 5:15 (you're also welcome to come and see the afternoon panel at 4:15 if you wish), the film will run from 6:15-7:45, followed by the Q&A until 8:45, and then more drinks, food and mingling until 11:00pm.
If you would like to attend the afternoon showing or be added to the evening waiting list, please email Allison Squires (cc'd here and at and let her know which showing you prefer – and please include your name and organization exactly as you'd like it to appear on your nametag.  Also, feel free to invite your friends and fellow reformers to the afternoon premiere.
Each showing will be followed by an hour-long discussion/Q&A that I will moderate with some of the leading education reformers in the country. The panel after the afternoon showing will be:

·        Norman Atkins, Founder of North Star Academy, Uncommon Schools and Teacher U

·        Dacia Toll, Co-Founder of Amistad Academy and Achievement First

·        Deborah Kenny, Founder and CEO of Harlem Village Academies

·        Kevin Chavous, Chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER)

·        Evan Stone, Founder of Educators 4 Excellence

·        Drema Brown, Director of Aspiring Principals and School Achievement, New Leaders for New Schools

The panel after the evening showing will be:

·        Wendy Kopp, Founder of Teach for America

·        David Levin, Co-Founder of KIPP

·        Kevin Chavous, Chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER

·        Eva Moskowitz, CEO of the Success Charter Network

·        Shavar Jeffries, founding board President of KIPP Newark

·        Joe Williams, Executive Director of DFER

I hope to see you on April 7th!
Best regards,

P.S.—Here's some background about A Right Denied:
After seeing An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's documentary about global warming, I thought to myself, "That's exactly what school reformers need as well!", so I've spent the last few years developing a slide presentation that has reached 240 pages (it's posted at:; you might also be interested in my school reform web page at:
I've given this presentation numerous times around the country, and at such an event in Washington, DC last fall, I met Bob Compton, a highly successful businessman who in retirement has dedicated himself to addressing our educational failures by producing the brilliant 2 Million Minutes series of documentaries (
After seeing my presentation, he approached me about doing a documentary about it.  Frankly, the last thing I need is to be higher profile, but I agreed to do it because I care very deeply about this issue and my experience with the presentation is that it both educates and, more importantly, inspires people to action.  We filmed it in Memphis on January 15th, what would have been Martin Luther King's 81st birthday, before an audience of KIPP students and teachers.
And here is the text on the back cover of the DVD:

Most Americans have long known that our public schools aren't getting the job done, but as our country increasingly falls behind our economic competitors and a wide academic gap within our country persists between low-income, minority students and their more affluent peers, these twin achievement gaps have reached crisis proportions.  Simply put, the failure of our public schools is the most pressing domestic issue our nation faces.
There's good news, however: we now know what must be done to fix our schools and a wave of reform is beginning to sweep the country.  But it won't be easy – the system, while failing children, has been working very well for the adults, who fight ferociously to maintain the unacceptable status quo.  The outcome of this battle will determine the long-term future of our country.
Whitney Tilson committed himself to this issue more than 20 years ago, when he was one of the first people to join Wendy Kopp in starting Teach for America.  She in turn later introduced him to David Levin, the co-founder of the KIPP network of charter schools, and he has served on KIPP's board in New York City for nearly a decade. Mr. Tilson is also one of the founders of Democrats for Education Reform, Rewarding Achievement (REACH), and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, and serves on the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the Council of Urban Professionals, and the Pershing Square Foundation.
After spending more than two decades on the front lines, witnessing first-hand public education's shocking failures and remarkable successes, Mr. Tilson was inspired to assemble a powerful and at times unsettling presentation about the twin achievement gaps and what must be done to address them.  He utilizes the latest data and research to paint the most detailed portrait of American public education ever committed to film.  More importantly, he presents us with a way forward so our nation can deliver on its promise to all of its children and ensure its long-term future.

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