american teacher: a film that aims to fundamentally change the profession

There's no quibbling that Dan Moulthrop is one of the "smartest guys in the room." Before he created his current gig as Curator of Conversation at The Civic Commons he was the former host of the award-winning program "The Sound of Ideas" on 90.3 WCPN.

What many of us do not know is that, in a previous life, Moulthrop was a high school English teacher in San Lorenzo, California. Unfortunately for his students, he couldn't afford to continue teaching them.

"I didn't get into the profession for money," Moulthrop explains. "But when I left, it was largely because there was no real opportunity for advancement and no way to imagine raising a family on that salary."

His experiences as an educator led him to pen a book titled "Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers," which he co-authored with Dave Eggers ("A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius") and Nínive Calegari.

That book was the impetus behind the feature-length documentary "American Teacher," a six-year endeavor that follows the careers of four young teachers. The film will be shown at The Capitol Theater at 7 p.m. on October 5.

The documentary, narrated by Matt Damon, explores the consequences of our national policy of underpaying public educators.

"There are great teachers in the profession, but there aren't enough of them," adds Moulthrop. "There aren't enough of the smartest and most talented college grads choosing the profession. The countries that are kicking our ass on all international comparisons -- South Korea, Finland, for example -- treat the profession with honor and prestige."

"To be clear, this isn't about paying bad teachers more," promises Moulthrop. "This is about fundamentally changing the profession so that great teachers have more great colleagues and awesome teachers aren't leaving the profession after five years because they want to be able to afford a home and a family."

The screening will be followed by a panel conversation featuring Eric Gordon, CEO of Cleveland Metropolitan School District; Eileen Sweeney, intervention specialist at Shaker Heights Schools; and Roger Kligerman, Oberlin Young Educators. Reception to follow at the Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Avenue).

To purchase tickets, click here.
- Images 1 - 3: Photos by Bob Perkoski
- Images 4 - 6: Scenes from American Teacher

Read more articles by Douglas Trattner.

Douglas Trattner is a fulltime freelance writer, editor and author. In addition to acting as Managing Editor of Fresh Water, he is the Dining Editor of Cleveland Scene, author of “Moon Handbooks: Cleveland,” and co-author with Michael Symon on two New York Times best-selling cookbooks. His work has appeared in Food Network magazine, Miami Herald, Globe and Mail, Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Magazine and others. He lives in Cleveland Hts. with his wife, two dogs, five chickens and 20,000 honeybees.
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