Douglas County School District may have recently made many headlines in local newspapers, but within a year it may reach a much broader audience, and not just through the headlines, but also on movie screens nationwide.
Multi-Emmy award winning, Douglas County born and raised Brian Malone created a 75-minute documentary called “The Reformers,” that opened in September in Parker. The documentary features interviews from many Douglas County teachers and students, as well as national sources.
In a Nov. 26 interview Malone describes the documentary as the revelation of “the secretive, political ideological and full profit takeover of public schools.” However, the story did not start out this way, or this big.
Malone had just finished a three year film project, and he was not looking to jump back into another one, but after doing some research, he realized that he didn’t have another option.
“I have two children that are students in Douglas County Schools and I was made aware of some of the detrimental changes that are being made in public schools,” Malone said. “After understanding a little more of the subject matter, I decided to make the film as a local service to inform voters.”
The documentary was shown at various locations throughout the county preceding the Nov. 5 Douglas County School Board election, and many supporters opened their homes to private showings. The film is now available for purchase on “The Reformers” website.
“I would definitely recommend [“The Reformers”] to anyone would cares about the future of the schools and students,” said a Douglas County elementary teacher of nine years, who asked to remain anonymous due to concerns of repercussions. “Even if people do not have children in the district, it is important to watch and become educated on the issues because it will affect all of us.”
The documentary argues that public education is made up of two groups of people. One group that wishes to create a public education enterprise, a system that creates winners and losers, the “reformers”. The other group believes that everyone should work together because when schools and students benefit, the benefits are recognized everywhere.
“Now [we’re] in the process of making an entirely new film,” Malone said. “This is a national epidemic.” Malone finds the issue so serious that he compared it to the Hunger Games.
“[Working on the documentary has] certainly made me more aware of the value of public education democracy,” Malone said. “Look at the Hunger Games. It sounds melodramatic, but when you look at corporations owning everything, when you contract out your public schools to corporations, the world looks very different. It’s a cautionary tale [and] we need to wake up as citizens and take hold of our public lives.”
Despite the election of the slate of reform candidates, two of whom are incumbents, Malone thinks that his documentary gave the community a general awareness of the concerns, “which I am encouraged by,” Malone said.
Malone’s new documentary is in the beginning steps, but he is very confident of what will come of it. He recently returned from a three week tour in which he visited several different school districts throughout the country to include in the new, full-length film.
“In a year’s time this film will be out, and everyone will know who this school board is. And everyone will know who our superintendent is,” Malone said. “I have very high hopes for this film.”
Both in “The Reformers” and in the interview, Malone said the biggest challenge was obtaining interviews from the “reform supporters.”
“In my last film, ‘Patriocracy,’ I was able to go to Washington D.C. and interview over 50 people in congress, the best journalists, lawmakers, et cetera, but my own local school board wouldn’t even give me an interview,” Malone said. “They declined and denied and played games with me for months.”
Malone’s journey may not have been easy, but it undeniably impacted viewers, educating and informing them of school district news and concerns.
“[It was] eye-opening,” said the nine-year veteran Douglas County teacher interviewed for this story.