Known for his philanthropy and political opinions as well as his work in movies, the actor hit the streets on Saturday to support teachers. The Save Our Schools March took place in Washington, D.C., near the White House to protest education policies that are centered around standardized testing.
"I honestly don't know where I'd be today if that was the type of education I had," Damon told the crowd. "I sure as hell wouldn't be here. I do know that."
Raised by an educator, the 40-year-old attended public schools as a child and credits his accomplishments to his teachers. "I had incredible teachers. As I look at my life today, the things I value most about myself—my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity—all come from how I was parented and taught.
"And none of these qualities that I've just mentioned—none of these qualities that I prize so deeply, that have brought me so much joy, that have brought me so much professional success—none of these qualities that make me who I am can be tested."
The star is currently filming a new sci-fi movie Elysium in Vancouver (hence his newly shaven head), and made this special trip to D.C. to not only show teachers his support, but to give them a special message.
"Please know that there are millions of us behind you. You have an army of regular people standing right behind you, and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you and we will always have your back."
But the best part came after his speech, when Damon took apart a crew for Reason.tv.
First, a reporter asked about whether tenure is good for teachers, as opposed to a system with no job security that would simply reward hard work.
To which Damon shot back:
"So you think job insecurity is what makes me work hard? I want to be an actor. That's not an incentive. That's the thing. See, you take this MBA-style thinking, right? It's the problem with ed policy right now, this intrinsically paternalistic view of problems that are much more complex than that. It's like saying a teacher is going to get lazy when they have tenure. A teacher wants to teach. I mean, why else would you take a sh---y salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?"
The cameraman then chimed in with a question: "Aren't 10 percent of teachers bad, though?"
Damon's mom, who still teaches in Boston, challenged that figure prompting the shooter to admit he didn't know if his figure was accurate but "10 percent of people in any profession maybe should think of something else."
And that prompted the checkmate from Damon: "Maybe you're a sh---y cameraman."