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Published in Print: September 29, 2004, as Actress Heeds Call to Support Public Schools

Actress Heeds Call to Support Public Schools

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Helen Hunt says she has plenty of reasons to support public education. The Oscar- and Emmy-award-winning actress was educated in public schools, she has teachers in her family, and her 7-year-old stepson attends a public school.

But perhaps her greatest reason for becoming involved in last week’s National Mobilization for Great Public Schools came earlier this year when her first child, daughter Makena’lei, was born.

“I don’t feel that all is lost,” Ms. Hunt said about public schools, as guests gathered outside the Hollywood home of Stuart Sender and Julie Bergman Sender, two film producers who held one of thousands of such “house parties” throughout the country.

The gathering, which also drew the actor Mike Farrell, the political commentator Arianna Huffington, and dozens of politically active young people, seemed an unlikely one for an event boosting public education. After all, A-list celebrities and others noted for their accomplishments in the entertainment industry compete for spots in this city’s exclusive private schools.

But the fact that support for edu cation has generally not been a cause taken up by those in Ms. Hunt’s field is another reason the actress says she is now getting involved in “bringing public education into the dialogue.”

While she describes herself as introverted and “usually pretty quiet” about politics, she said she would be willing to take part in additional events related to such issues.

But she said she has no specific plans to recruit other actors for the cause of public education. She simply intends—as a video shown at the parties urged—to tell five friends to register to vote.

Wearing a T-shirt reading “November 2,” she certainly was not shy about her opinions on President Bush and the No Child Left Behind Act.

“I think it was a colossal disaster filled with broken promises,” she said about the law, adding that not enough attention is being given to education during this presidential election.

“I just hope that [the law] compels people to vote.”

Vol. 24, Issue 05, Page 13

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