'Warrior' Screenwriter Has a Radical Idea for Fixing Public Education
Cliff Dorfman appears in the docuseries 'Dream School,' returning for season 2 Wednesday
Warrior screenwriter Cliff Dorfman is going back to school, when the Oscar-nominee returns for Sundance TV's docuseries Dream School Wednesday.
Dream School: NYC takes kids who have dropped out of school or been expelled and offers them the chance to be taught by notables such a Chuck D, 50 Cent and Olympic skater Johnny Weir. Dorfman teaches English in the show.
He took inspiration by how he wished he had been treated as a teen, though he admits he used to be a handful.
"I treated the kids like people," Dorfman tells The Hollywood Reporter. He says that as a teen, he recalls not feeling respected by adults, so he wanted to be different to his students.
"They didn't talk straight to us. They didn't say, 'You know what? This is how it is,' or 'Shut the f—k up,' " Dorfman says with a laugh.
Dorfman wishes Dream School could be done all over the country to help struggling kids. Dorfman's mother was a teacher for decades (he based the principal in Warrior off of her principal), and says he's been developing a plan to help fix the public education system — if only someone would listen.
"I look around and see the Staple's Center and see these huge stadiums with billion dollar budgets from these companies. I wonder why we name our schools after dead presidents and we name all of our football stadiums after corporations?" Dorfman says.
Part of his pitch: Get corporations to start subsidizing schools.
"Instead of John F. Kennedy High School, it's Staples High School," he says. "We brand the high school and you give them incentives, like maybe certain people will work for Staples for a year. Reebok sponsors schools, they are getting the sports angle — Apple, putting computers in schools."
Dorfman adds that if it were up to him, teaching would be the highest paid profession at the entry level. And while Dream School may have been a lot of work for him, he knows it's nothing compared to what real teachers go through.
"Getting treated nicely by the producers and eating the good food wasn't anything like when my mom was teaching," he says.
Dream School airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.