A healthy discussion of sick State Schools.  The school budget is split between the Owners and Managers. The Owners of state schools, the corporate state: Banks, Insurance & Wall Street, take one-third of the budget (34%) in insurance, debt, & a 100 billion+ Wall Street retirement fund. The Managers, and the five employee Unions, consume two-thirds. Convicts get nothing.

Schools are corporate franchises in a colonial tax-extraction system. Indigenous kids are “compelled” into incarceration their whole lives; armed tax-ransomers extract prison costs from landowners. Indoctrination into a “respect for their managers” & unwavering obedience to authority is the golden rule.

In the last 20 years as discomfort with this corrupt system has been peeking enrollment has declined to half its population. Each school company arms itself with $100,000 a year police, increased prison-level locking, $500,000 a year additional administrative protection, and military-grade facial-recognition cameras in each franchise. This is a boon for the domestic military which has no legitimate threats in school. This is violent protection of the Owners tax extraction forts.

When a million-dollar corruption endangers their kids two loving parents go back to school on a Quixotic quest to defeat the all-powerful state. Mr. Smith goes to the school board. A true crime financial noir of tax-profiteers, political deception, and corporate retaliation. Emmy-winning artist, Wayne Coe, in a Michael Moore-style performative exposé, investigates the billion-dollar education industry ransoming the custody of their kids. 

Nationally 1600 schools a year are closed and the education industry profits $1,600,000,000 from forced school closings. “Undeniably brave” Coe & Gilger expose a highly complicated merger of crime & policy, of stealing and government at the nexus of politics and economics. The first parents in the nation to stop a school recorded their battles on and off campus! 

8/10, reviewer Alan Ng raves “CORRUPT, CORRUPTION, CORRUPTED”, six times, twice comparing the administrators to the “gangsters” in THE IRISHMAN. 

“A train track (carrying various deadly fuels and chemicals) circles the three schools with a single two-lane road that provides access to school for the parents and students every morning and afternoon. A potentially deadly nightmarish situation, but that’s not the problem. The problem? Money and power with no checks or balances, and pervasive corruption at the top”.

Have American schools gone the way of Congress, the Executive branch, and courts, where money runs the elections, and representatives can’t even pretend to represent the public? Parents won’t back down. 

“The education industry is, among other things, a billion-dollar industry and a billion-dollar industry is more important than the life of a child,” said James Baldwin. “We can take our kids off their buses. We can take them out of their schools.


The genre is financial noir. I used animation to visualize the financial underworld. Dark as the taverns in Lang’s, M, the shadowy alleys of Ford’s, THE INFORMANT, and the ratty dives of FORCE OF EVIL. The explosive train motif reflects the industry's gravy train, grinding inexorably, remorselessly, disempowered kids.

Noir is traditionally a low-budget affair, under-lit and shot on the cheap. We became school flatfoots. For years this school board’s recorded nothing & kept no public records. Over three years I amassed the largest archive of public school meetings available. Students published a fantastic student poll & institutional critique of consolidation - which the administration never spoke of & hated. Time after time we walked public surveys. With the cinematic surveillance, we exposed their invisible, administrative criminality. Years of meetings would have vanished as well as a school — without the public’s story, no voice for the voiceless.  

The public narrative: student’s cries of loss and damage are omitted from history by the school's $100,000 Communication Directors and their $250,000 superintendents. The unionized school boards represent employees against the public. The school gets 30 column inches of free front-page newspaper propaganda while the parents struggle to get a 400-word letter in the back opinions page. Mostly we face a media blacked out.

Noir is a social critique of capitalist political incivility, upward mobility for the rich, and spiraling poverty for state school kids. School closings are legal, militarized school executions. Consolidation is a spiritual crime: killing poor kids’ education to turn a quick fifty million.

The plot is vigilante justice, Lang’s THE BIG HEAT, enraged parents go after the thugs who endanger their kids. Into their school lair plans are brewing to shutter America’s most acclaimed school. Administrator manipulation, lies, sadism, power, greed, corruption, and violence are demonstrative of social decay.  

No dow-eyed kids, dewey-eyed parents, preaching pedagogues, and upstanding board members in real American gangsters-admin. This is a True Crime.

Abandoned schools are a landscape of despair. THEY LIVE BY NIGHT: bleak, emotionally vacant wastelands. The board’s exposure in a tawdry library/board room is dehumanizing by intent; it’s an environment where cats devour mice and no one hears you die. Like Wells’s THE TRIAL, the Board of Education is a mockery of justice, deceivers not democrats.  

Schools remain a system of colonial oppression. Students of the poor are locked away all their lives in a sensory deprivation experiment. They’re fed a fairytale of white heterosexual misogynistic militarized capitalist virtue. While corporate aristocrats wage perpetual wars of acquisition demanding blood sacrifices school sells the state as holy. No state religion the state is God. Four hundred years of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Americans is absent from the curriculum. Washington’s had no “teeth made of wood” they were slave-teeth dentures. Kids are this treasonous (British) genocidal slave driver who could not tell a lie…

Puritans ethnically cleansed “from sea to shining sea”. White Christian Nationalists embraced slave torture and rape, police & military service. Law enabled instead of punishing enslavers to punish slave victims. From 1800 to 1860 all indigenous Americans were forceable removed from half of the US by war and treaty and replaced with millions of force-marched Northern slaves. A vast national slave capitalism designed by constitutional contract (though omitting the word “slave”) was formed, The Half Has Never Been Told, Baptist. Colonialists deny the existence of state schools false history to create false consciousness.

“Dad, do you know how long we spent on Indians in Chatham? One day. And two on the buffalo,” said my brilliant middle school daughter. Mostly taught in public school, she graduated cum laud from Harvard.