Sylvia Barrett is a rookie teacher at New York's inner-city Calvin Coolidge High: her lit classes are overcrowded, a window is broken, there's no chalk, books arrive late. The administration is concerned mainly with forms and rules (there's an up and a down staircase); bells ring at the wrong time. Nevertheless, she tries. How she handles the chaos and her despair in her first semester makes up the film: a promising student drops out, another sleeps through class, a girl with a crush on a male teacher gets suicidal, and a bright but troublesome student misunderstands Sylvia's reaching out. A discussion of Dickens, parents' night, and a mock trial highlight the term. Can she make it? Written by
Simple words that could start a war.
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Did You Know?
Dr. Bester cites the price of the new school building as $7.5M, which is approximately equivalent to $50,875,000 in 2012. See more
During opening scenes of kids returning to school, the voice of Miss Finch (Jean Stapleton) blares from public address system (urging students to report to different rooms, ignore real time bells, etc.) yet when Sylvia walks into office where Miss Finch is working, she has no access to a microphone or other broadcast equipment that would enable her voice to be heard throughout entire school. See more
[Mr. McHabe notices Miss Barrett walking towards class with a homemade suggestion box
Oh. Suggestions, Miss Barrett, ahh? I must say you've got guts.
It's just an idea, Mr. McHabe. It seems to me that if the students have a chance to speak freely without fear of punishment...
Listen, you start running this school with ideas, you'll have riots in your rooms. Fear - That's all they understand.