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 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 film is a financial noir. I us animation to visualize the financial underworld. Dark as the taverns in Lang’s, M, the shadowy alley’s of Ford’s, THE INFORMANT, and the ratty dives of FORCE OF EVIL. The explosive train motif reflects the lindustries money-train, grinding inexorably, remorselessly, around disempowered kids.

Noir is traditionally a low budget affair, under lit, shot at night and on the cheap.  So are the school board pretenses.  For years school boards 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 & critique of consolidation.  Time after time we recorded public surveys.  With the cinematic surveillance we exposed the invisible, administrative criminality. Years of meetings would have vanished — without the public narrative, giving voice to the voiceless.  We became school detectives.  

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

Noir is social critique, civic incivility, upward mobility for the few spiraling downward for 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 lair, the school, where plans are  brewing to shutter the sacred, acclaimed school.  Themes of manipulation, lies, sadism, power, greed, corruption and violence demonstrative of social decay.  

No dow-eyed kids, dewey-eyed parents, preaching pedagogues and upstanding board members among America’s education gangsters. This is true crime.

Empty schools are a landscape of despair.  THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, bleak, emotionally vacant, social wastelands. The board’s exposed, tawdry library/board room is dehumanizing by intent; it’s an environment where cats devour mice and no one can hear your scream.   Like Wells’s THE TRIAL, the Board of Education is a mockery of justice, a deception not democracy.  

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 herterosexual mysogynistic militarized capitalists virtue, so anemic it becomes laughable from the outside. These aristocrats, now corporations wage erpetual wars of acquisition and the patriotic blood sacrifices we’re told sanctify our greed, violence and racism. Four hundred years of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Americans is disappeared from curriculum. Washington’s had not “teeth made of wood” they were slave-teeth dentures. But kids are told he could not tell a lie.

Puritans began an ethnic cleansing, that stole “from sea to shining sea”.  Christian fascists embraced slave torture and rape. Law enabled enslavers instead of punishing them and punished slaves instead of freeing them.  From 1800 to 1860 all indigenous Americans were forceable removed from half of the US by war and treaty and replaced with millions of Northern slaves manufacturing vast national slave-capitalism foreseen in the constitution which omitted the word “slave” (The Half Has Never Been Told, Baptist).  Colonialists deny the existence of the nations they conquer, displace and eradicate in letters and physically.

“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. We took her out. She’s at Harvard.