Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 09 2013

#81: Matt Damon and the Accusation of Hypocrisy

Have y’all heard of this guy Matt Damon? Apparently he’s a fairly well-known public school advocate who made some waves by announcing that his children would not be attending public schools in Los Angeles and instead he and his wife decided to enroll them in private schools.

In response, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush did what most of us regular folk do to talk to celebrities: he got to Twitterin’.

With that, Matt Damon joined the ranks of a number of outspoken public figures who stand accused of hypocrisy. The seeming disconnect between one’s public pronouncements and one’s private actions is a well-worn topic of discussion. Read Bruce Baker. And Jersey Jazzman. For reasons they lay out, I don’t think Damon is a hypocrite. His speech at the Save Our Schools rally a couple of years ago rails against high-stakes testing and the erosion of teacher autonomy. He’s sending his kids to schools that presumably have a high level of trust in their teachers’ professionalism and don’t bother with the state assessments. He didn’t criticize parental choice. He championed his public school upbringing as well as the work of his mother, a public school teacher and professor. I can assume he simply wishes public schools today offered what they had when he was growing up.

Me, too! And while I do not consider him a hypocrite, I am a little disappointed in Matt Damon. The man is a multimillionaire, international movie star, Oscar winner, and passionate advocate for public education. If someone with his visibility and money doesn’t feel empowered to take on The Man as a public school parent, what hope does that give the rest of us who are trying to scrape by on Cable Ace Awards?

I get it. The decision, if you have such a privilege, to place your child in one school or another is more personal than political. My wife and I will be sending our child(ren) to public schools, but we live in a neighborhood with historically excellent schools with great magnet programs, a plethora of extracurricular activities, and many of our city’s most experienced educators. Still, hypocrite or not, the Matt Damons of the world squander opportunities to help us lobby for bigger changes in our public schools when they opt out.

2 Responses

  1. Meghank

    I don’t blame him, and I think you might change your mind, too, by the time your kid(s) are ready for school, especially if you 1. Know what the early grades education (K-2) is supposed to be like 2. Visit the public elementary schools you are thinking of sending your kid(s) to.

    They have made it so that no public school, no matter in how wealthy an area or how historically good they were, can opt out of the harmful things the “reform” movement is doing to children.

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