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War veteran Rick Dadier is one of three new teachers hired at North Manual High School, an inner city boys school. This is his first teaching assignment, which he needs to support himself and his insecure pregnant wife, Anne. Despite Principle Warnecke's assertions to the contrary, Dadier quickly learns that the rumors of student discipline problems at the school are indeed true. The established teachers at the school try to counsel the newcomers, all inexperienced in such situations, as how best to handle the rowdy students. Regardless, Dadier tries to exert discipline in his class, which provokes a violent response. Dadier believes the student leaders against him are Artie West, but more specifically Gregory Miller, who he thinks uses the fact of being black as a means of racial provocation. Dadier has to decide either to leave and teach at a "real" school, or stay and figure out how to get through to his students. If he decides to stay, he has to figure out who the real disruptive ... Written by
Having taught in the New York City school system for 32 years and now retired, I am quite qualified to comment on this ground-breaking film.
When it came out, few people realized how bad some of our urban schools were. The truth is that the situation is even far worse today.
This great film attempts to show the truth about our urban school centers. It depicts the complete lack of discipline as well as a totally inept and unsympathetic school administration. The latter will hide incidents to show that their school is a good one.
Glenn Ford is terrific as the idealistic teacher. Having come from the military, he soon sees that the school is worse than many army situations he has encountered.
Gang violence is prevalent. Student disruption is constant. Vic Morrow and his gang of thugs, (yes, Mayor Bloomberg, they are thugs not Transit Workers) do their best to make sure that no one learns anything and that mayhem is the general order of the day.
The scene where Richard Kiley's records are destroyed in front of him by these recalcitrants is memorable.
If our society would only realize what these schools have become and do something about it. Instead, teachers are routinely blamed. Teachers must be psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers,and parents for so many who resist learning and authority.
The film was an omen for what was to come. Sadly, we have not learned from it. Yes, we try catch phrases like cooperative learning, etc. but the fact remains that teaching cannot be done until there is effective discipline.
An A+ for what this film tries to show. Nonetheless, the worst was yet to come.
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