Freedom Writers (2007) Script

I can't get involved in inner school policy.

My principal only listens to my department head, and she's not very supportive.

You'll have to find a way to deal with it.

No, I'd rather just deal directly with someone in power.

Ms. Gruwell, there's a system in place based on years of running an educational facility.

You have to follow that system.

No. I won't.

Look, I'm just trying to do my job here.

What's the point of a voluntary integration program if the kids making it to high school have a 5th grade reading level?

I enforced that program.

With all due respect, all that program is doing is warehousing these kids until they're old enough to disappear.

Look, I appreciate your intentions, but there's nothing I can do on a class-by-class basis.

Dr. Cohn, why should they waste their time showing up when they know we're wasting our time teaching them?

We tell them, Go to school. Get an education.

And then we say, Well, they can't learn, so let's not waste resources.

I'm thinking trips.

Most of them have never been outside of Long Beach.

They haven't been given the opportunity to expand their thinking about what's out there for them.

And they're hungry for it. I know it.

And it's purely a reward system.

They won't get anything they haven't earned by doing their work and upping their grades.

But if Ms. Campbell won't give you books because of budget restrictions, she's not gonna approve school trips.

I'll raise the money.

I just need to know I won't meet resistance.

See, I can't promise them anything I can't deliver.

It only proves what they already believe.

All I'm saying is, Ms. Campbell doesn't need to be bothered.

You're a concierge at the Marriott?

It's just weekends.

You play tennis with Evan on Saturdays.

And you can play golf with my dad on Sundays.

You want me to play golf?

And the bonus is I get employee rates on Marriott hotel rooms all over the world.

I've heard a lot of hyphenates, but a bra-selling-English-teacher- hotel-concierge has gotta be a new one.

You told me your part-time job was temporary.

It is. I just don't know for how long.

What if I said no? No, what?

No, I don't want you working three jobs.

But I can make it work, Scott. No, that's not the point.

You can do anything! We know that already.

It's just that I... You...

You didn't even ask me.

I'm just trying to do my job, Scott.

By getting two more jobs?

I don't understand, Erin.

Scott, this is our time to go after what we want, when we're young, before we have a family.

Maybe this is the perfect time for you to go back to school, get your architect's degree.

Wouldn't that be great?

What?

Nothing.

So, I'll call you with a list of venues.

I've scheduled a PTA board meeting for next week.

So, it should be no problem.

Thank you so much. You're welcome.

Lovely to see you, Paula. Good to see you, too.

Hi. Hello.

Principal Banning received a call from Dr. Cohn at the school board.

Apparently you're taking your students on a trip?

Yes, but it's over the weekend, so it won't affect any test schedules.

I know how busy you are, and since I'm paying for it myself, I didn't want to bother you.


I'll be right back.

Oh, no. No, no, no. Erin?

Get back in the car. Dad, he lives right here.

I'll get him. Get back in the car and lock your door.

What's his name? Andre Bryant.

Andre.

Since my pop split, my mom can't even look at me, 'cause I look like my dad.

And with my brother in jail, she looks at me and thinks that's where I'm going, too.

She doesn't see me.

She doesn't see me at all.

I'm going out.

What up? Hey.

Where you going? I need you.

No, man, I can't now. I got something to do.

Tonight. I'll do it tonight.

I gotta go do something, and I can't carry that around with me.

Forget it, man, I'll get somebody else.

I can't be waiting all day on you.

Hey.

Sorry about your brother, man. I hear he going away for life.

They won't get it. The guy he was with confessed.

To who? Your brother?

Hey. You Andre?

What up? Hey.

What? Put on your seat belt.

You, too, young lady.

You kids ever been to Newport Beach before?

What? We went there last year on our way to Paris.

Paris.

It's good.

I brought you something.

It's a good book. I read it in school.

It's about a gang kid, and I thought you might like to read it.

He told me what I had to say when I'm on the stand.


At the beginning of the tour, they give you a card with a child's picture on it.

You could find out who they were and what camp they were sent to.

And at the end of the tour, you could find out if they survived.

I got a little girl from Italy.

Tito, your hat.


Kristallnacht, they called it. The Night of Broken Glass.

Hundreds of synagogues looted and burned.

More than 7,000 Jewish stores destroyed.

Over 100 Jews killed.

A small center for children in Isieux in the French province of Ain.

Among the children deported that day to Birkenau was 11-year-old Liliane Berenstein, who, before leaving, left behind a letter to God.

My little boy died. He got off the train and they killed him.

I don't know why it bothered me so much.

I've seen death all my life.

But this little boy was only five.


Ms. G had a beautiful dinner for us at the hotel where she works.

She invited real Holocaust survivors from the museum to meet us.

There was Elisabeth Mann.

I had my parents, my sister, my two brothers.

Gloria Ungar.

If any of you have seen someone with a number on their arm, these were the lucky people.

The people who, when we came to Auschwitz, when they tattooed the people they took us to do the slave work.

Not the others, and that included many of my family.

So, we ran away, some of the young kids.

I was at that time 11-and-a-half years old.

Eddie llam.

And where to go, I didn't know, but I remember one place where I used to live.

So when I ran there, there was not one Jew left.

I was in the worst camp. I was in Auschwitz.

And Renee Firestone.

When I arrived, my parents were immediately taken away from me.

My little sister, who was then 14 years old, stayed with me for a little while.

And then later on, I was separated from her also.

She lost her whole family at the camps.

She came to this country with $4 in her pocket and a newborn baby.

I'll never forget these people.

And then she was killed because they didn't want...

I can't believe Ms. G did all of this for us.

Hi, honey, it's me.

Look, we're still at the restaurant, if you wanted to drop by.

We haven't even ordered dessert yet, and the kids are having such an incredible time.

You have to see them.

If you get in soon, come by. It's only 9:30 now.

Okay, I'll see you later. Love you. Bye.


How many times I gotta tell your ass again?

Get your butt in here!


So, you had all summer to read and consider this book.

And you know, I thought it would be most valuable to begin with Victoria to give us the black perspective.

Victoria?

Do I have a stamp on my forehead that says, The National Spokesperson for the Plight of Black People?

How the hell should I know the black perspective on The Color Purple?

That's it, if I don't change classes, I'm gonna hurt this fool.

Teachers treat me like I'm some kind of Rosetta stone for African-Americans.

What? Black people learn how to read, and we all miraculously come to the same conclusion?

At that point, I decided to check out my friend Brandy's English class.

Good to see you, man. Hey, yeah.

How was your summer? Great.

You're still white, I see.

Okay, everybody. Ready?

Hey, Ms. G. Hi.

Hi, Ms. G. Hi.

Okay, guys, gals, listen up! This is what I want you to do.

I want each of you to step forward and take one of these Borders bags, which contain the four books we're gonna read this semester.

All right!

They're very special books, and they each remind me, in some way, of each of you.

But, before you take the books, I want you to take one of these glasses of sparkling cider, and I want each of you to make a toast.

We're each gonna make a toast for change.

And what that means is, from this moment on every voice that told you You can't is silenced.

Every reason that tells you things will never change, disappears.

And the person you were before this moment, that person's turn is over. Now it's your turn.

Okay?

Okay, you ready to get this party going on?

What? Stop doing that, man.

What's the dealio?

Man, I've had boyfriends since I was, like, 11, you know.

I believe you. Shut up.

Okay, well, I was always the person that was gonna get pregnant before I turned 16 and drop out.

Like my mom.

Ain't gonna happen.

Nobody ever listens to a teenager.

Everybody thinks you should be happy just because you're young.

They don't see the wars that we fight every single day.

And one day, my war will end.

And I will not die.

And I will not tolerate abuse from anyone.

I am strong.

My moms kicked me out when I got jumped into the gang life.

But I'd like her to see me graduate.

I'd like to be 18.

Ms. G? Can I read something from my diary?

That'd be great.

Who is he?

Man, he's been with us from freshman year, fool.

What's his name? I don't know.

This summer was the worst summer in my short 14 years of life.

It all started with a phone call.

My mother was crying and begging, asking for more time as if she were gasping for her last breath of air.

She held me as tight as she could and cried.

Her tears hit my shirt like bullets and told me we were being evicted.

She kept apologizing to me. I thought, 'I have no home.

'I should have asked for something less expensive at Christmas. '

On the morning of the eviction, a hard knock on the door woke me up.

The sheriff was there to do his job.

I looked up at the sky, waiting for something to happen.

My mother has no family to lean on, no money coming in.

Why bother coming to school or getting good grades if I'm homeless?

The bus stops in front of the school. I feel like throwing up.

I'm wearing clothes from last year, some old shoes and no new haircut.

I kept thinking I'd get laughed at.

Instead, I'm greeted by a couple of friends who were in my English class last year.

And it hits me, Mrs. Gruwell, my crazy English teacher from last year, is the only person that made me think of hope.

Talking with friends about last year's English and our trips, I began to feel better.

I receive my schedule and the first teacher is Mrs. Gruwell in Room 203.

I walk into the room and feel as though all the problems in life are not so important anymore.

I am home.

Yes, you are.


But you're an honors student.

If you transfer to Ms. Gruwell's class, think how that will reflect on your records.

It doesn't matter to me. My grades will still be the same.

Look, Ms. Campbell.

When I first transferred to the school, I had a 4.0 average.

But when I applied for advanced placement at English and Math, I was told it would be better for me to be in a class with my own kind.

Now, when I did get in, my teacher said, Victoria, it's not every day one finds an African-American student in A.P. And honors courses. As if I didn't notice.

And when I asked another honors teacher why we don't read more black literature, she said, We don't read black literature because of all the sex, drugs, cussing and fornication!

I thought a simple It's inappropriate would have sufficed.

Erin can't do that!

Distinguished Honor Students are mine.

She's not allowed to teach them. She's only been here a year.

The student requested it.

And Gruwell has got Cohn in her back pocket.

What gets me is they're violent, they break laws, they destroy school property and in the end we make them special. We reward them like...

I just don't see what that teaches them.

Hi! Sorry I'm late.

Did you eat? I'm ordering in. Are you hungry?

What question do you want me to answer first?

Did I eat or am I hungry? I ate. I'm not hungry.

Something really cool happened today. I got an honors student.

Congratulations. Isn't that great?

She actually requested my class.

Can you teach an honors student?

What do you mean?

Well, I mean, you're used to teaching your kind of kids.

Can you teach somebody who's smart?

Of course I can.

Yeah, but it's not like you have, right?

I mean, you don't really teach what everybody else teaches.

My kids' grades are up to B's.

Yeah, but the point is, that's according to you.

It's not like they're really learning what normal kids have to learn.

Normal kids? Yes, they are.

They're reading The Diary of Anne Frank.

They're learning vocabulary, grammar, writing, poetry.

All right. Okay, I apologize. Sorry.

Congratulations.

What is wrong with you?

You know, at Deb's party, I heard you telling people that I was an architect and that my job was temporary.

I want you to stop that, all right? I like my job.

Fine.

You're the one who said you were gonna be an architect.

Yeah, four years ago, before we got married.

What, I'm gonna go back to school now for two years and intern for three?

I'll be over 40.

All right. I thought you still wanted it.

It doesn't matter if I want it, Erin.

It doesn't mean it's going to happen.

Why not?

Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me.

I mean, not only because I've never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on, neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a 13-year-old schoolgirl.

Terrible things are happening outside.

At any time of day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes.

Families are torn apart.

If only I can be myself, I'll be satisfied.

I know that I'm a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage.

If God lets me live, I'll achieve more than Mother ever did.

Anti-Jewish decrees followed in quick succession.

Jews must wear a yellow star. Jews must hand in bicycles.

Jews are banned from trams and forbidden to drive.

Jews are forbidden to visit theaters, cinemas and other places of entertainment.

Jews may not take part in public sports.

Swimming baths, tennis courts, hockey fields and other sports grounds are all prohibited.

I can't tell you how oppressive it is never to be able to go outdoors.

Also, I'm very afraid that we will be discovered and be shot.

No one can keep out of the conflict. The entire world is at war.

And even though the Allies are doing better, the end is nowhere in sight.

Hi.

When is Anne gonna smoke Hitler?

What? You know. Take him out?

Eva, this is The Diary of Anne Frank, not Die Hard.

Keep reading.

We talked about the most private things, but we haven't yet touched upon the things closest to my heart.

I still can't make heads or tails of Peter.

Is he superficial?

Or is it shyness that holds him back, even with me?

Are Anne and Peter gonna hook up?

I'm not telling you.

It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death.

I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness.

I feel the suffering of millions, and yet when I look up at the sky I somehow feel that everything will change for the better.

Eva, what's wrong?

Why didn't you tell me she dies?

Why you didn't tell me she gets caught in the end?

I hate you and I hate this book.

Eva.

If she dies, then what about me? What are you saying about that?

Anne Frank died, but she... I can't believe they got her!

That ain't supposed to happen in the story! That ain't right!

'Cause it's true? I ain't talking to you!

You're talking around me. That's the same thing.

See, to me, she ain't dead at all.

How many friends did you know that are dead now that got killed?

Too many to count.

How many have you read a book about?

Have you seen them on TV or even in the newspaper?

That's why this story's dope.

She was our age, man.

Anne Frank understands our situation, my situation.

And that Miep Gies lady, the one that helped hide them?

I like her.

I got all these other books about her from the library.

Wow. You used your library card?

No.

Okay, listen up. Marcus has given me an idea.

Instead of doing a book report on The Diary of Anne Frank, for our assignment I want you to write a letter to Miep Gies, the woman who helped shelter the Franks.

She's still alive and she lives in Europe.

In the letter, I want you to tell her how you feel about the book.

Tell her about your own experiences.

Tell her anything you like.

But I want the letters to be perfect, so be prepared to do more than one draft, okay?

Is she gonna read the letters?

Well, right now it's a writing assignment. I'll read them.

We should get her to read them.

Yeah, you can do that, right, Ms. G?

Well, I don't know.

Maybe we should get her to come and speak.

Yeah, and have a big dinner again.

Wait. Guys.

Guys! Everyone! Listen! She's elderly!

I don't know how to contact her.

I don't even know if she travels.

And it would be really expensive.

We could raise the money.

Ms. G?

When Miep Gies come, can I, like, be the one to escort her in?

Five.

Hi, I'm trying to get the number for the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, Switzerland.


Come in, Margaret.


Ms. G sent our letters all the way to Amsterdam to Miep Gies, herself.

When Ms. G made up her mind about something, there was no stopping her, man, for real.

And after we raised the money to bring her to Long Beach, there she was.

But, damn, I didn't expect her to be so small.

The bounty on a Jew was about $2.

Someone desperate for money told the Gestapo.

On August 4th, they stormed into my office, and a man pointed a gun at me and said, Not a sound.

Not one word.

And then they went straight upstairs to the attic.

I felt so helpless.

I could hear Anne screaming, objects being thrown around.

So, I ran back to my house.

I looked for an earring or knick-knacks, you know, anything I could take back with me to bribe them.

So I took this back with me, all these things, and the soldier there took out his gun and put it against my head.

You could be shot for hiding a Jew or go to a camp.

So, another soldier recognized my accent.

He was Austrian, and so was I, but I had been adopted by a Dutch family.

So, he told the soldier with the gun to let me go.

There isn't a day that I don't remember August 4th and I think about Anne Frank.

Yes?

I've never had a hero before.

But you are my hero.

Oh, no. No, no, young man, no.

I am not a hero. No.

I did what I had to do, because it was the right thing to do.

That is all.

You know, we are all ordinary people.

But even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light

in a dark room.

Ja?

I have read your letters, and your teacher has been telling me many things about your experiences.

You are the heroes.

You are heroes every day.

Your faces are engraved in my heart.

You hungry?

You know what you're gonna say in that courtroom?

I know what I have to say.

Yeah.

You know how that is. I know.

And that man that put your father in prison, he knew he was sending an innocent man.

But, you know, he was just

protecting his own.

What the hell does everybody want from me?


Hey, Mama. Mama.

What the hell are you doing here?

I want to come home. I don't want to be in the streets no more.

I'm sorry.

I want to change. I can't do it alone.

I need you, Mama.

I need you.


And what time was that?

I told you, 9:00, 9:30.

And you had a clear view of the defendant, Grant Rice, in the store?

I told you he was playing the video game.

Then what happened? What did you see?

Well, he got all whacked because he lost the game, and then he started shouting and all, threatening everybody.

He threatened everyone? He threatened you?

No. The guy who ran the store.

He wanted his money back for the game.

And what did the store owner do?

He shouted back. And they were fighting.

Then he, the defendant, knocked something over and left the store.

And then what happened? What did you see?

I saw...

I saw...

Paco did it.

Paco killed the guy.


My father won't talk to me anymore.

And I have to lay low for a little while because there's word out to jump me.

So I'm gonna be living with my aunt.

See, my aunt lives even further away,

so I was just wondering if I could, like,

stay here late with you stay here late with you so I can get my homework done, 'cause it's late by the time I get home.

You can stay as late as you want.

And I can even drive you to your aunt's, if it gets too late.

Ms. G, let's not get nuts.


I think I got your color.


Just come by the concierge on your way out, I'll have the directions for you. Yep, that's fine.

Stop! That's it! Now, now! Hey!

You get an extra three seconds. Go!

...enraged them and provoked them into acts of violence.

In 1961, an interracial civil rights group traveled by bus through the South to challenge segregation.

Blacks sat in the front, whites in the back.

They were attacked, firebombed, but they kept going.

In Montgomery, Alabama, Jim Zwerg offered to be the first off the bus, knowing there was a mob waiting for them.

He was almost beaten to death so the others could get away.

That kind of courage is unbelievable to me.

I was afraid of just being in this class, and I was ashamed because I've always been the dumb kid in school, even with my friends.

But not anymore.

And I must have some kind of courage, because I could have lied to get out of here, but I stayed.

I stayed.

Hi, I'm home!

Sorry, it got late. I drove the kids home. I didn't want them taking buses.

You're never gonna believe what happened.

I'm so tired.

It's so cute, though. They never want to go home.

We have such a good time together. I'm gonna take a shower.

If you have another glass, you're gonna have a headache.

Your bags are packed and you think the wine's gonna give me a headache?

Why are you doing this?

Because I don't pay enough attention to you?

No. That's not it.

I just... I feel like I'm living a life I just did not agree to.

Erin, it's just...

It's too hard.

Your life is too hard?

I think what you're doing is noble.

And it's good. And I'm proud of you.

I am.

I just want to live my life and not feel bad about it.

I'm not trying to make you feel bad.

You don't have to try.

I didn't plan on becoming responsible for these kids.

Well, who asked you to? No one asked me to!

They're not even your kids!

Why do I have to be asked? Scott...

I finally realized what I'm supposed to be doing and I love it.

When I'm helping these kids make sense of their lives, everything about my life makes sense to me.

How often does a person get that?

Then what do you need me for? You're my husband.

Why can't you stand by me and be part of it, the way wives support husbands?

Because I can't be your wife.

I wish I could make that sound less awful.

Erin?

You know, if you had to choose between us and the class, who would you pick?

If you love me, how could you ever ask me that?

Erin, look at me.

This is all there's ever been to me.

This is it. I'm not one of those kids. I don't have any more potential.

See? You don't want to be here either, 'cause if you did, would you be in the classroom every night?

That's not true. I want to be here. I love you.

You love the idea of me.

But it's such a great idea.

I know.


Dad? Hi.

You know, I was actually trying to call someone else, and I automatically dialed you. I'm sorry.

Look, I'm gonna call you tomorrow, okay?

I need to make this call. I love you.

Ms. G made us read Twelve Angry Men.

It's all about how this one juror helped to turn the hearts of 11 jurors.

It made me feel hopeful.

At 2:00 today, my brother was given a verdict on his own trial.

No O.J. Dream Team, just a court-appointed attorney who probably thought his ass was guilty.

And I realized Twelve Angry Men was just a book and nothing more.

My brother got 15 years to life.

Justice don't mean the bad guy goes to jail.

It just means somebody pays for the crime.

So, you got time now?

Anyone know where Andre's been?

I haven't seen him on the bus.

Yeah, I haven't talked to him either.

Ms. G?

Are we gonna have this same room next year, again?

I don't know. You're gonna be juniors next year.

What do you mean?

Well, I teach freshman and sophomore years.

You mean, we're not gonna be with you next year?

Well, I...

I don't teach juniors. I thought you guys understood that.

What? What are you talking about?

You don't wanna be our teacher next year?

Of course I do. I can't.

Why not? It's the Board of Ed.

It's regulations.

Ms. G hasn't been here long enough to have seniority.

Who cares about seniority?

Shit! They can't do that! They don't have the right!

Ms. G, this is our kick-it spot. - Yeah.

Everybody's cool with everybody. Everybody knows everybody.

This is the only place where we really get to be ourselves.

There's no place like this out there for us.

That's true.

I'm not allowed to teach junior and seniors.

You're not allowed?

Ms. G, we can fight this, you know, like the Freedom Riders.

Yeah, yeah, we'll all drive around on a bus.

Only this time, they try and bust us up, we bust a few of them board members' heads.

Marcus.

Or we can go to the newspapers, media. That'll get their attention.

Or we can paint the administration building with the word assholes in various colors.

Hey, it's something. We can do this.

What?

These are my books, not Scott's. I'm packing the wrong books.

Honey, take a break.

Sit down.

I can't believe I'm getting divorced.

I never thought this would happen.

What do I do now?

Next year, I won't even have my kids.

You think you should stay with them?

Or is it better they move on?

I don't know.

It's just a job, like you said.

Yeah, it is.

But is the job finished?

Listen to me now.

What you've done with those kids...

I don't even have words for it.

But one thing's for sure, you are an amazing teacher.

Special.

You have been blessed with a burden, my daughter.

And I envy you that.

And I admire you.

And how many fathers ever get to say that to their daughters and really mean it?

What she is suggesting is in violation of our union charter.

She may not move on with her students to teach them junior year.

She's only been here two years.

There are teachers here who have tenure, who have worked and committed themselves for far longer to attain a position of seniority.

Not to mention their experience in teaching students of a higher caliber.

The Distinguished Scholars Program is under our jurisdiction.

I don't want to replace the Distinguished Scholars Program.

I just want to stay with my kids next year.

She can't. I have the juniors.

The Board of Education will not allow this.

Teaching rotations will be disrupted, retirement schedules will be reevaluated, disrespecting teachers who have earned their way far longer and who focus on the classroom, not on public relations and newspaper articles.

I didn't ask for those articles to be written.

She's in the middle of a divorce.

Note, they stay late in her class, they're eating, they're playing games!

All right, let's all just take a breath here. All right?

Now I had hoped that we could talk this out, maybe come to some kind of arrangement.

There is no arrangement... Margaret.

Carl, look.

Putting aside all obvious resentments for the moment, even if an arrangement were made and she could teach them as juniors, there isn't an accredited course in the curriculum for her to teach.

Unless Brian trades one of his junior classes for a sophomore.

No.

Then there's nothing I can do.

So that's it?

Believe it or not, Ms. Gruwell, there are other capable teachers in this school.

If you've made the progress you say you have, your students should be ready to move on.

They might even gain something from more experienced teachers.

You can't teach them. You don't even like them.

What does that have to do with teaching?

I've been an educator for over 30 years.

I have students that still remain in touch with me.

I know what it is to be loved by a classroom!

You have no idea how many battles I've had fighting to be a better teacher, and now, what, suddenly I'm incapable of educating your students?

You know, if they move on to our classes and they fail, it'll be because they weren't prepared!

Lt'll be because you failed, not them!

Andre? Wait a minute before you go in.

I heard about your brother's conviction. I'm sorry.

Is that why you've missed class so much?

I had things to do.

About this.

The evaluation assignment was to grade yourself on the work you're doing.

You gave yourself an F. What's that about?

It's what I feel I deserve. That's all.

Oh, really?

You know what this is?

This is a Fuck you to me, and everyone in this class!

I don't want excuses. I know what you're up against.

We're all of us up against something.

So you better make up your mind, because until you have the balls to look me straight in the eye and tell me this is all you deserve, I am not letting you fail, even if that means coming to your house every night until you finish the work.

I see who you are.

Do you understand me?

I can see you.

And you are not failing.

So, take a minute. Pull yourself together and come inside.

I want a new evaluation.

An F. What, are you tripping?

I want you all to know that Dr. Cohn and I tried very hard.

But it's been decided we can't continue with each other junior year.

What? What?

You... Wait.

Wait. Guys. Everyone.

No! That don't fly, Ma!

Look, first of all, I'm not anyone's mother in here, okay?

No, it doesn't mean mother.

It's a sign of respect for you.

Listen to me.

All of you.

Don't use me as another excuse for why you can't make it.

You made it to your junior year.

Think about how you did that.

Everyone in this room has a chance to graduate.

For some, you'll be the first in your family.

The first with a choice to go to college.

Some may move faster than others.

But you'll each have the chance.

And you did that. Not me.

Now, I have one

final project in mind.

Ms. G. Yeah?

Ms. G wanted us to put our diaries together in a book, just like Anne Frank.

She got this businessman, John Tu, to donate 35 computers so we could work.

She told us we have something to say to people.

We weren't just kids in a class anymore.

We weren't just kids in a class anymore.

We were writers with our own voices, our own stories.

And even if nobody else read it, the book would be something to leave behind that said we were here, this is what happened, we mattered.

Even if it was just to each other. And we won't forget.

Ms. G didn't promise it would get published or anything, but we could get it out there ourselves.

She asked us to come up with a title, something to call ourselves.

I just received a call from Karin Polacheck at the Board of Education.

There's to be a meeting with Dr. Cohn about your classes.

Do you know anything about this?

No.

These students, this class, they've become a family.

To who? To you?

To each other.

Room 203 is a kind of a home for them.

Their trust is all wrapped up in us being together as a group.

Once they're out of her class, believe me they'll slip back into their old habits.

Their reading scores, their writing has markedly improved, Ms. Campbell.

On paper. But what has she accomplished in reality?

What about new students that come in next year?

Can she repeat this process every year?

Her methods are impractical, impossible to implement with regularity.

What if every teacher performed in this way?

We have millions of children to get through the education system in this country, and we need a means of accomplishing that which allows as many students to benefit as possible, not just special cases.

And you honestly think you can create this family in every classroom, for every grade, for every student you teach?

I don't know.

Thank you.


Hey, there go Ms. G. Hey, there go Ms. G!

What happened?

So? Are we gonna be together for junior year?

No.

What? What?

We're gonna be together junior and senior year.

Yes!