"Narrated by Matt Damon, "American Teacher" seeks to counteract popular misconceptions about the teaching profession by showing, in a style of close-up realism, what teachers actually do and what their lives are really like—and how continued neglect of the profession may be jeopardizing the nation's future. The film interweaves portrayals of five stellar K-12 educators from different parts of the country as they navigate daily challenges and try to manage the "logistics" of their lives. Examples of the teachers' obvious professionalism and skill are set against, sometimes to comic effect, the near-Dickensian nature of their working conditions and scheduling demands."
More on the project the film has started:
" THE TEACHER SALARY PROJECT is a feature-length documentary film, interactive online resource, and national outreach campaign that delves into the core of our educational crisis as seen through the eyes and experiences of our nation's teachers....
Our educational system must change. Currently, 30 percent of American students drop out of school by age eighteen. Fewer than 30 percent of all eighth-grade students are proficient in grade-level reading and math. Most significantly, students from urban, financially disadvantaged backgrounds are at a greater risk for decreased cognitive development and ability, lower school attendance, and higher rates of grade failure and early drop-out. And though it is well documented that the most important school-based factor in students' academic achievement and future success is the quality of their teachers, 46 percent of public school teachers leave the profession within the first five years of being in the classroom.
A good teacher has the power to change the course of a life. A teacher can move a child from poverty to promise by providing him or her with the skills and confidence necessary to be carried into adulthood—yet because teachers in the United States have historically had an average annual salary lower than their peers with similar educational backgrounds, 50 percent of our nation's best teachers must have second jobs outside of the classroom-like tutoring, mowing lawns, selling stereos, or bartending—to be able to afford to teach.
Our educators are responsible for imparting knowledge, mentoring, guiding, and fostering our nation's future, yet as a culture we discredit the profession. It is through this historical, societal, and systematic devaluing of our nation's most important profession that our children are faced with broken schools and low prospects. It is time that we as a nation address this educational crisis and make teaching the prestigious, competitive, and sustainable profession it deserves to be. Only then can we improve the success rates of our country's children and keep our democracy thriving."