National Edition

Matt Damon's off script over stance on public education

Published: Friday, Aug. 9 2013 1:50 p.m. MDT

Actor Matt Damon, from the upcoming film "Elysium", poses for a portrait during Comic-Con, Friday, July 13, 2012, in San Diego.

AP, Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush thinks Matt Damon is a hypocrite for opting for private schools after fiercely defending public education.

Damon is on a publicity tour promoting his new film, "Elysium." The futuristic film is heavy on politics, The Hollywood Reporter says, featuring a future Los Angeles squalid on the ground, but "hovering far above Earth and appearing like a five-spoked wheel in the sky is Elysium, an enormous space station where the rich live in a stress-free country-club environment," with the "riffraff from the overpopulated and polluted planet visible beneath them is rigorously kept out …."

Damon told the Guardian in London that he struggled before opting for private schools in Los Angeles, ultimately deciding that public schools were insufficiently "progressive."

"Sending our kids in my family to private school was a big, big, big deal. And it was a giant family discussion. But it was a circular conversation, really, because ultimately we don't have a choice. I mean, I pay for a private education and I'm trying to get the one that most matches the public education that I had, but that kind of progressive education no longer exists in the public system. It's unfair."

In 2010, Damon headlined a widely reported rally for public education in Washington, D.C., where he told the crowd, "I was raised by a teacher. My mother is a professor of early childhood education. And from the time I went to kindergarten through my senior year in high school, I went to public schools. I wouldn’t trade that education and experience for anything."

"Matt Damon refuses to enroll kids in Los Angeles Public Schools. Choice ok for Damon, why not everyone else?" Bush tweeted last week after the Guardian interview. Bush is a long-standing school choice advocate whose own kids have attended elite prep schools.

A Bush spokesman told the New York Daily News that Bush "wasn't criticizing Damon for choosing the private school option for his family, but rather Bush wanted to point out that Damon 'has criticized and opposed efforts by those who are working to make sure low-income parents have the same choice he had.’ ”

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

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