Freedom Writers Script - Dialogue Transcript

Voila! Finally, the Freedom Writers script is here for all you fans of the Hilary Swank movie. This puppy is a transcript that was painstakingly transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of the movie to get the dialogue. I know, I know, I still need to get the cast names in there and all that jazz, so if you have any corrections, feel free to drop me a line. At least you'll have some Freedom Writers quotes (or even a monologue or two) to annoy your coworkers with in the meantime, right?

And swing on back to Drew's Script-O-Rama afterwards -- because reading is good for your noodle. Better than Farmville, anyway.

Freedom Writers Script

  
  
There have been shots fired.

  
Total civil unrest is happening
throughout the Los Angeles area.

  
Dozens of police
are running down the streets.

  
Dozens of police
are running down the streets.

  
Smoke reigned over the entire city.

  
We're telling anybody
who's in downtown South Central...

  
There are 38 dead and more than...

  
The EMT are having
a hard time getting in...

  
...where truck driver Reginald Denny
was pulled from his vehicle...

  
The city resembles a war zone.

  
Crowds gathered
at Parker Center downtown.

  
...here in Hollywood, where
looters have struck many businesses.

  
There have been 3,600 structural fires.

  
Thick, black smoke rising
from the countless fires

  
in Hollywood, downtown, Compton,
Watts and Long Beach...

  
In America,

  
a girl can be crowned a princess

  
for her beauty and her grace.

  
But an Aztec princess
is chosen for her blood...

  
Eva?

  
...to fight for her people,
as Papi and his father fought

  
against those who say
we are less than they are,

  
who say we are not equal in beauty
and in blessings.

  
It was the first day of school,

  
and I was waiting for my father
to take me to the bus.

  
Roberto!

  
Eva!

  
And I saw the war for the first time.

  
Eva! Eva!

  
Police! Open up!

  
They took my father for retaliation.

  
He was innocent, but they took him,

  
because he was respected
by my people.

  
They called my people a gang
because we fight for our America.

  
On your feet!

  
When I got my initiation
into the gang life,

  
I became third generation.

  
They beat you so you won't break.

  
They are my family.

  
In Long Beach, it all comes down
to what you look like.

  
If you're Latino or Asian or black,

  
you could get blasted any time
you walk out your door.

  
We fight each other for territory.

  
We kill each other over race,
pride and respect.

  
We fight for what is ours.

  
They think they're winning
by jumping me now,

  
but soon they're all going down.

  
War has been declared.

  
- Here's your coffee.
- Thank you.

  
I brought my lesson plans.
I'd love it if you'd look them over.

  
Yes, and these are the classes
you'll start with.

  
Freshman English, four classes,
about 150 students in all.

  
Some of them
are just out of juvenile hall.

  
One or two might be wearing ankle cuffs
to monitor their whereabouts.

  
And you see here,
we'll have to revise your lesson plans.

  
And if you look at their scores,
these vocabulary lists

  
and some of these, the books,
Homer's The Odyssey,

  
they're gonna be too difficult for them.

  
All right.

  
Also, for most of them to get here

  
it takes three buses,
almost 90 minutes each way.

  
My God.

  
So I wouldn't give them too much
of a homework load.

  
You'll just be wasting a lot of time
following up on overdue work.

  
All right. Thank you.

  
- You're from Newport Beach?
- Yes.

  
It's too bad you weren't here
even two years ago, you know.

  
We used to have one of the highest
scholastic records in the district,

  
but since voluntary integration
was suggested,

  
we've lost over 75/
of our strongest students.

  
Well, actually, I chose Wilson
because of the integration program.

  
I think what's happening here
is really exciting, don't you?

  
My father was involved
in the civil rights movement.

  
And I remember when I was watching
the LA riots on TV,

  
I was thinking of going
to law school at the time.

  
And I thought, "God, by the time

  
"you're defending a kid in a courtroom,
the battle's already lost. "

  
I think the real fighting
should happen here in the classroom.

  
Well, that's a very

  
well-thought-out phrase.

  
Erin,

  
I think you're a lovely, intelligent woman.

  
But you're a first-time teacher.

  
As head of this department,
I have to be confident

  
you're capable of dealing
with what we have to face here.

  
I am.

  
I know I have a lot to learn as a teacher,
but I'm a really good student.

  
I am, and I really want to be here.

  
- Those are lovely pearls.
- Thank you. From my father.

  
I wouldn't wear them to class.

  
Honey?

  
What?

  
Do I look like a teacher?

  
Hey!

  
Hey, Chris, yo, what up?

  
- Hello.
- Hello.

  
Hey, yo, let's sit right here, man.

  
Hi.

  
Hey, girl, you wanna give me
some fries with that shake?

  
My name is Erin Gruwell.
Welcome to Freshman English.

  
I give this bitch a week.

  
Hi.

  
Okay. Brandy Ross?

  
Gloria Munez.

  
Alejandro Santiago.

  
Andre Bryant.

  
Eva Benitez.

  
Eva, not Eva.

  
Eva.

  
I have to go to the bathroom.

  
- Okay, make sure that you take a...
- Yeah, I know.

  
Ben Samuels?

  
That white boy hoping
he's in the wrong room.

  
I gotta get out of here.

  
- Sindy Ngor.
- Right here.

  
Is that correct?

  
- Jamal Hill?
- Man, what am I doing in here?

  
This whole ghetto-ass class
has got people in here

  
looking like a bad rerun of Cops
and shit.

  
You know what I'm saying? It's true.

  
- Are you Jamal?
- Yeah.

  
Well, for some reason
they have you registered in this class.

  
- Yeah, and that's some bullshit.
- It's the dumb class, coz.

  
It means you're too dumb.

  
- Man, say it to my face, coz.
- I just did.

  
See what I mean? Dumb.

  
- Man, I know you ain't talking to me!
- Okay...

  
Look, homey,
I'll beat that ass, homeboy.

  
Can you please sit back down?

  
Look, I got your spot on the team.

  
That's why you're over there
wagging your tongue.

  
Please sit back in your seats.

  
Look, your spot is good as gone. I don't
know why you keep wasting your time

  
coming to practice with them
two-year-old Nikes on your feet!

  
You don't know nothing about me, coz!

  
Broke down my whole situation.

  
Jamal?

  
So, now you're in my face now, right?

  
Sit your punk ass down!
Sit your punk ass down, homeboy!

  
I will run that ass off the field.

  
Shut your ass up. What's up, homey?

  
I mean, what's up?
Sit your ass down, homey!

  
Excuse me,
may I please get some help in here?

  
So do something! Back up!

  
You touching me now?

  
Sit down, homeboy. Back up,
I'm not gonna tell you again.

  
You gonna look at my face now, right?

  
You ain't taking nothing
from me, homeboy!

  
I will run your ass off the field!

  
Boy, sit your ass back down.

  
Don't even worry about it,
I'm gonna see you.

  
Tell him. Sit his ass down.

  
Sit your ass down.

  
Thank you. Let him out of here, man.
That's some bullshit.

  
Erin?

  
Erin, this is Brian Gelford.

  
He teaches Junior English
and the Distinguished Honors Classes.

  
- Hi. Erin Gruwell. Nice to meet you.
- Hi. Nice to meet you.

  
- You saw a little action today, I hear.
- Yeah. It happened so fast.

  
Well, don't be discouraged.

  
You put your time in, in a few years,
you'll be able to teach juniors.

  
They're a pleasure.

  
By then, most of your kids
will be gone anyway.

  
- What do you mean?
- Well, eventually, they just stop coming.

  
Well, if I do my job,
they might be lining up at the door.

  
- Right?
- Yeah.

  
- Nice pearls.
- Thank you.

  
If it was up to me,
I wouldn't even be in school.

  
My probation officer threatened me,

  
telling me it was either school
or boot camp.

  
Dumbass.

  
He thinks that the problems
going on in Long Beach

  
aren't going to touch me at Wilson.

  
My PO doesn't understand
that schools are like the city,

  
and the city is just like a prison,

  
all of them divided into
separate sections, depending on tribes.

  
There's Little Cambodia.

  
The Ghetto.

  
Wonder Bread Land.

  
And us,
South of the Border or Little Tijuana.

  
That's just the way it is,
and everyone knows it.

  
But soon enough, you have little
wannabes trying to hit you up at school,

  
demanding respect they haven't earned.

  
It looks like this, one tribe drifting
quietly to another's territory

  
without respect,
as if to claim what isn't theirs.

  
An outsider looking in
would never see it, but we could feel it.

  
Something was coming.

  
Settle down.

  
Let's go over the first name
on the list, Homer.

  
Homer's The Odyssey.

  
I know Homer the Simpson.

  
No, this Homer was an ancient Greek,

  
but maybe he was bald
just like Homer Simpson.

  
Okay.

  
What's up?

  
Quietly, please.

  
Mrs. Gruwell,
he just took my damn bag!

  
Shut up!
Ain't nobody touched your damn bag.

  
Yeah, I saw you.

  
Jamal. Jamal. Get her backpack.

  
I didn't do nothing anyway!

  
- Jamal. Jamal.
- Okay.

  
Wait! Wait! Please, stay in your seats!
Wait! Stay in your seats! Please!

  
Slanty-eyed bitch!

  
Return to your classrooms.

  
Return to the classrooms immediately.

  
That's all you got?

  
Clear the school lawn
and the recreation field now!

  
...classrooms, or you will be subject
to disciplinary action.

  
You can best help yourself
and your fellow students

  
and your school by returning
to your classrooms now.

  
Please return to your classrooms.

  
Get up, bitch!

  
All students must return
to their classrooms immediately.

  
Erin?

  
Erin.

  
Hey, baby.

  
You okay?

  
Come here.

  
Are you sure about this?

  
Well, it's not exactly how I pictured it.

  
Don't tell my dad.

  
Hopefully, he hasn't seen the news.

  
- So, how's work?
- Dad.

  
- I was asking your husband.
- It's good. I mean, for now.

  
It's a good company.

  
I pretty much run
the computer data department.

  
- I thought you were an architect.
- He is. He's just taking a break.

  
And the money's good for now.

  
How much are you making,
$27,000 before taxes?

  
If you know, why are you asking?

  
So, what's everybody gonna eat?

  
With your brains,
you could run a major corporation.

  
Instead, I worry all night
because you're a teacher at Attica.

  
Can you hear what you're saying?

  
How many times have I listened to you
about walking civil rights marches?

  
These gangs are criminals,
not activists. You read the papers?

  
They said the same thing
about the Black Panthers.

  
I'll lay odds your kids don't even know

  
who Rap Brown
or Eldridge Cleaver were.

  
You're gonna waste your talents
on people

  
who don't give a damn about education.

  
It breaks my heart.

  
I tell you the truth.

  
Well...

  
I'm sorry. I can't help that.

  
- You think this is good enough for her?
- Yeah, I do.

  
Look, Steve,

  
if Erin thinks she can teach these kids,
she can.

  
You telling her she can't
is just gonna make her mad.

  
So he doesn't like your job. So what?
Why do you let it get to you?

  
I don't know, it just does.
I'm not used to disappointing him. I...

  
Just let me know
when I can brush my teeth.

  
- I hate that we don't have our own sinks.
- Come in. There's room.

  
All right. Thank you.

  
I can't believe he brought up my salary.

  
What's happened to him?

  
He was like Atticus Finch to me
when I was growing up,

  
and now he's talking about salaries?
I think he's playing too much golf.

  
In fact, I think he needs an intervention.

  
Why isn't being a teacher
good enough for him?

  
Honey, just calm down.

  
You know, except for marrying me,

  
you never seriously disappoint him.
He worships you.

  
He likes you. He just doesn't...

  
He just doesn't think
I'm good enough for you, which is fine.

  
That's what fathers do.
I'm sure I'll be that way someday.

  
Look, just, you know, stop worrying
about being his perfect daughter.

  
You don't live in his house,
you live in ours.

  
Or until we find one.

  
- Or until you build us one.
- Yeah.

  
With extra sinks.

  
You're a teacher
because you say you are.

  
I have this idea.

  
We're gonna be covering poetry.
Who here likes Tupac Shakur?

  
It's 2Pac.

  
2Pac Shakur. Excuse me.
Raise your hand.

  
Really? I thought there'd be more fans.

  
I have the lyrics to this song printed out.

  
I want you to listen to this phrase
I have up on the board.

  
It's an example of an internal rhyme.

  
What he does is
very sophisticated and cool, actually.

  
"Man-child in the promised land
couldn't afford many heroes

  
"Moms was the only one there
Pops was a no-show

  
"And, no, I guess you didn't know
that I would grow to be so strong

  
"You looking kinda pale, was it the ale?
Oh, pops was wrong

  
"Where was the money that you said
you would send me?

  
"Talked on the phone
and you sounded so friendly"

  
- Think we don't know 2Pac?
- White girl gonna teach us about rap.

  
No, it's not that.
See, what I was trying to do...

  
You have no idea
what you're doing up there, do you?

  
You ever been a teacher before?

  
And teacher gets nailed, y'all!

  
All right, Jamal, enough.
Jamal! That's enough!

  
You know what? I want you to move
to this front seat right here now.

  
- What?
- Come on.

  
I am sick of these antics
in my classroom.

  
Well, there you are.

  
I was wondering when
you were gonna lose that damn smile.

  
Switch with Ben.

  
- Come on.
- I can't go back there alone.

  
- It'll be fine.
- No, it won't.

  
I'm not sitting near him.

  
I ain't going up there without my homey.

  
I'm not sitting back there alone!

  
- All right.
- Shut up.

  
All right, you know what?

  
I want you all to move
to this side of the room.

  
You in the back, up here.
Sindy and all of you, move to the back.

  
Come on. Let's go. Now!

  
Get your ass back to China, all of y'all.

  
- You're all little midget-ass punks.
- Move before I stomp your peanuts.

  
Boo!

  
Get your ass to the back, boy.

  
Get off my desk.

  
So, everybody happy
with the new borders?

  
Eva?

  
Where are you going?

  
Hey! Hey!

  
This is bull! Come on, man! What the...

  
What the hell? Damn!

  
I want my money back!

  
This shit took my damn money!
I want my damn money back!

  
Look what you putting me through. Shit!

  
Learn to speak the damn language!
You're from this country, aren't you?

  
I want my money back!

  
I want my money back!

  
I want my money back!

  
Come on! Let's go!

  
Come on, come on, girl! Let's go!

  
Paco was scared.

  
In the car, he said,

  
"You can't go against your own people,
your own blood. "

  
The same words
my father used so many times.

  
Only I saw Paco.

  
The others were turned away.

  
So when the police questioned me,
I knew I had to protect him.

  
All right, everyone, we need to get
started so classes won't be too delayed.

  
Principal Banning
would like to say something

  
in the light of last night's events.

  
I've spoken to the police.

  
As you might already know,
there were persons involved

  
in last night's shooting
who are Wilson students.

  
Grant Rice has been arrested
as a prime suspect.

  
Ms. Gruwell,

  
apparently one of your students,
Eva Benitez...

  
- Eva.
... has identified him as the shooter.

  
She's the prime witness in the case.

  
It is our policy not to discuss
the subject inside the classroom.

  
- Thank you very much.
- Thank you.

  
Hey, Tiny, check this out.

  
Hey. Hey!

  
Yes?

  
All right.

  
Gloria?

  
Please read the first sentence
on the board.

  
Why me?

  
Because I know
how much you love to read.

  
Close the magazine.

  
"Odysseus had no sense of direction. "

  
Now, none of these sentences
are correct.

  
I'd like you to rewrite these sentences
using the proper tenses

  
and spelling on page four
of your workbooks.

  
I don't have a page four. It got torn out.

  
Okay, why don't you just use
the next blank page?

  
What's going on?

  
What is that? Give it to me.

  
- What is this?
- Just leave it alone.

  
You think this is funny?

  
Tito?

  
Would this be funny
if it were a picture of you?

  
It ain't.

  
Close the workbooks.

  
Maybe we should talk about art.
Tito's got real talent, don't you think?

  
- Yeah, yeah.
- Go, Tito.

  
You know something?

  
I saw a picture just like this once
in a museum.

  
Only it wasn't a black man,
it was a Jewish man.

  
And instead of the big lips,
he had a really big nose,

  
like a rat's nose.

  
But he wasn't
just one particular Jewish man,

  
this was a drawing of all Jews.

  
And these drawings
were put in the newspapers

  
by the most famous gang in history.

  
That's us, dawg.

  
You think you know all about gangs?

  
You're amateurs.

  
This gang would put you all to shame.

  
And they started out poor and angry,
and everybody looked down on them.

  
Until one man decided
to give them some pride,

  
an identity and somebody to blame.

  
You take over neighborhoods?

  
That's nothing compared to them.
They took over countries.

  
And you wanna know how?

  
They just wiped out everybody else.

  
- Yeah.
- Yeah.

  
Yeah, they wiped out
everybody they didn't like,

  
and everybody they blamed
for their life being hard.

  
And one of the ways they did it
was by doing this.

  
See, they'd print pictures like this
in the newspapers.

  
Jewish people with big, long noses.
Blacks with big, fat lips.

  
They'd also publish scientific evidence

  
that proved Jews and blacks
were the lowest form of human species.

  
Jews and blacks
were more like animals.

  
And because they were just like animals

  
it didn't really matter
whether they lived or died.

  
In fact, life would be a whole lot better
if they were all dead.

  
That's how a holocaust happens.

  
And that's what you all think
of each other.

  
You don't know nothing, homegirl.

  
No, I don't, Marcus!
So why don't you explain it to me?

  
I ain't explaining shit to you!

  
Do you even know how we live?

  
We was here first, man.

  
Just shut that shit up, homeboy.

  
All right! All right! All right!

  
So what you're saying is,
if the Latinos weren't here,

  
or the Cambodians or the blacks
or the whites or whoever they are,

  
if they weren't here, everything
would be better for you, isn't that right?

  
Of course it'd be better!

  
Lt'd be better if you weren't here.

  
Right. Right.

  
It starts with a drawing like this,

  
and then some kid dies in a drive-by,
never even knowing what hit him.

  
You don't know nothing!

  
You don't know the pain we feel.

  
You don't know what we got to do.

  
You got no respect for how we living.

  
You got us in here,
teaching us this grammar shit,

  
and then we got to go out there again.

  
And what are you telling me
about that, huh?

  
What are you doing in here that makes
a goddamn difference to my life?

  
You don't feel respected.
Is that what you're saying, Eva?

  
Well, maybe you're not.
But to get respect, you have to give it.

  
That's bullshit.

  
What?

  
Why should I give my respect to you?

  
'Cause you're a teacher?

  
I don't know you.

  
How do I know
you're not a liar standing up there?

  
How do I know you're not
a bad person standing up there?

  
I'm not just gonna give you my respect
because you're called a teacher.

  
White people always wanting their
respect like they deserve it for free.

  
I'm a teacher.
It doesn't matter what color I am.

  
It's all about color.

  
It's about people deciding
what you deserve,

  
about people wanting
what they don't deserve,

  
about whites thinking
they run this world no matter what.

  
You see, I hate white people.

  
- You hate me?
- Yeah.

  
- You don't know me.
- I know what you can do.

  
I saw white cops shoot my friend
in the back for reaching into his pocket!

  
His pocket.

  
I saw white cops break into my house

  
and take my father for no reason
except because they feel like it!

  
Except because they can.

  
And they can because they're white.

  
So I hate white people on sight!

  
Ben, do you have anything to say?

  
Can I please get out of here?

  
Lady, stop acting like you're trying
to understand our situation

  
and just do your little babysitting
up there.

  
- That's all you think this is?
- It ain't nothing else.

  
When I look out in the world,

  
I don't see nobody that looks like me
with their pockets full,

  
unless they're rapping a lyric
or dribbling a ball.

  
So what else you got in here for me?

  
And what if you can't rap a lyric
or dribble a ball?

  
- It ain't this. I know that much.
- Damn right.

  
And you all think you're gonna make it
to graduation like this?

  
I made it to high school.
Ain't nobody stopped me.

  
Lady, I'm lucky if I make it to 18.
We in a war.

  
We're graduating every day we live,

  
because we ain't afraid to die
protecting our own.

  
At least when you die for your own,
you die with respect, you die a warrior.

  
That's right.

  
So when you're dead, you'll get respect?
Is that what you think?

  
- That's right.
- That's right.

  
- Yeah.
- Yeah.

  
You know what's gonna happen
when you die?

  
You're gonna rot in the ground.

  
And people are gonna go on living,
and they're gonna forget all about you.

  
And when you rot,

  
do you think it's gonna matter
whether you were an original gangster?

  
You're dead.

  
And nobody,
nobody is gonna wanna remember you,

  
because all you left behind
in this world is this.

  
You're raising your hand?

  
That thing that you said before,
the Holocause?

  
- Holocaust, yes.
- What is that?

  
Raise your hand if you know
what the Holocaust is.

  
Raise your hand

  
if anyone in this classroom
has ever been shot at.

  
What about this?
We were discussing the Holocaust.

  
No, they won't be able to read that.

  
We can try.
The books are just sitting here.

  
Look at their reading scores.

  
And if I give your kids these books,
I'll never see them again.

  
If I do, they'll be damaged.

  
What about these? Romeo and Juliet.
That's a great gang story.

  
No, not the books.
This is what we give them.

  
It is Romeo and Juliet,
but it's a condensed version.

  
But even these,
look how they treat them.

  
See how torn up they are?
They draw on them.

  
Ms. Campbell?

  
They know they get these

  
because no one thinks
they're smart enough for real books.

  
Well, I don't have the budget
to buy new books every semester

  
when these kids don't return them.

  
So, what do I do?
Buy their books myself?

  
Well, that's up to you,
but you'd be wasting your money.

  
Is there someone else
I can speak to about this?

  
- Excuse me?
- I'm sorry, but

  
I don't understand.

  
Does the Long Beach Board of Ed agree

  
that these books should just sit here
and not be used at all?

  
Let me explain.

  
It's called site-based instruction.

  
It means that I and the principal
each have the authority

  
to make these kinds of decisions
without having to go to the Board,

  
who have bigger problems to solve.
Do you understand how it works now?

  
I'm sorry.
I didn't mean to overstep your authority.

  
I would never do that. I just...

  
I don't know how to make them
interested in reading with these.

  
You can't make someone
want an education.

  
The best you can do is try to get them
to obey, to learn discipline.

  
That would be a tremendous
accomplishment for them.

  
Since you know Margaret
better than I do,

  
if I could just get
some backup from you.

  
I really think that the stories like
The Diary of Anne Frank and...

  
That they'd be so great for them,

  
and she doesn't seem to understand
that they could relate to these stories

  
considering all that they face.

  
Oh, of course. It's a universal story.

  
I mean, Anne Frank, Rodney King,
they're almost interchangeable.

  
- Are you making fun of me?
- Yeah.

  
God, listen to what you're saying.

  
How dare you compare them
to Anne Frank?

  
They don't hide.

  
They drive around in the open
with automatic weapons.

  
I'm the one living in fear.
I can't walk out my door at night.

  
And you blame these kids?

  
This was an A-list school
before they came here.

  
And look what they turned it into.

  
I mean, does it make sense

  
that kids who want
an education should suffer

  
because their high school gets turned
into a reform school?

  
Because kids who don't want to be here,
and shouldn't be here,

  
are forced to be here

  
by the geniuses
running the school district?

  
Integration's a lie.

  
Yeah, we teachers, we can't say that
or we lose our jobs for being racist.

  
So, please, stop your cheerleading,
Erin. You're ridiculous.

  
You don't know the first thing
about these kids.

  
And you're not qualified
to make judgments about the teachers

  
who have to survive this place.

  
We're gonna play a game, all right?
It's a lot of fun. I promise.

  
Look, you can either sit in your seats
reading those workbooks,

  
or you can play a game.

  
Either way,
you're in here till the bell rings.

  
Okay. This is called the Line Game.

  
I'm gonna ask you a question.

  
If that question applies to you,
you step onto the line,

  
and then step back away
for the next question.

  
- Easy, right?
- Yeah, whatever.

  
The first question,

  
how many of you have
the new Snoop Dogg album?

  
Did you steal it?

  
Okay, back away.

  
Next question,

  
how many of you have seen
Boyz n the Hood?

  
Okay. Next question.

  
How many of you live in the projects?

  
How many of you know someone,
a friend or relative,

  
who was or is in juvenile hall or jail?

  
How many of you have been
in juvenile hall

  
or jail for any length of time?

  
Detention don't count.

  
Does a refugee camp count?

  
You decide.

  
How many of you know
where to get drugs right now?

  
How many of you
know someone in a gang?

  
How many of you are gang members?

  
- Nice try.
- Nice try.

  
Okay, that was a stupid question,
wasn't it?

  
Yeah.

  
You're not allowed
gang affiliations in school.

  
I apologize for asking. My badness.

  
Okay, now I'm gonna ask you
a more serious question.

  
Stand on the line if you've lost
a friend to gang violence.

  
Stay on the line if you've lost
more than one friend.

  
Three.

  
Four or more.

  
Okay, I'd like us to pay respect
to those people now.

  
Wherever you are,
just speak their name.

  
James.

  
Beatriz.

  
Thank you all very much.

  
Now, I have something for each of you.

  
Everyone has their own story,

  
and it's important for you
to tell your own story, even to yourself.

  
So, what we're going to do is

  
we're gonna write every day
in these journals.

  
You can write about whatever you want,
the past, the present, the future.

  
You can write it like a diary,
or you can write

  
songs, poems, any good thing,
bad thing, anything.

  
But you have to write every day.

  
Keep a pen nearby.
Whenever you feel the inspiration.

  
And they won't be graded.

  
How can I give an A or a B
for writing the truth, right?

  
And I will not read them
unless you give me permission.

  
I will need to see that you've made
an entry, but I'll just do this,

  
skim to see that you wrote that day.

  
Now, if you want me to read it, I have...
Excuse me. A cabinet over here.

  
It has a lock on it.
I will keep it open during class,

  
and you can leave your diary there
if you want me to read it.

  
I will lock this cabinet
at the end of every class.

  
Okay?

  
So, you can each come up,
one by one, and take your own journal.

  
Whenever you're ready.

  
Eva holds back,
but I know she wants to be involved.

  
She's so stubborn.

  
Who really surprised me was Brandy,
who never says a word,

  
but she was the first to step up
and take a journal. I...

  
Honey, here. Here, sit down.

  
- It's all right. No, it's all right.
- I'll move this.

  
I don't mind standing.
Food goes straight down.

  
- How much longer are you gonna be?
- I don't know.

  
- Want to help?
- Not really, I'm a terrible drawer.

  
- You're an architect.
- All right, I just don't want to.

  
What's the matter?
Is something wrong?

  
No, it's nothing.

  
Well, it's just, you know,
I want to hear all this, I do.

  
It just...

  
I feel like
we haven't talked about anything,

  
other than your job, in like forever.

  
I'm sorry.

  
- Well, what's going on at work?
- Nothing.

  
I don't want to talk about that, either.

  
I just want to hang out.
I want to be home.

  
And I want to be with my schoolteacher.

  
I've always had this fantasy
about being kept late after school.

  
Well, I'm sorry I left
my dirty erasers at work.

  
Do all the other teachers
put in this much extra effort?

  
I don't know.
I'm kind of making it up as I go along.

  
And the other teachers don't really
talk to me. I mean, Brian and Margaret...

  
- Honey, I don't want to think.
- I'm sorry. Okay, don't think.

  
- I just wanna...
- I'm almost done, okay?

  
So, how much longer?

  
Not long. Promise.

  
Thank you so much for coming.
Susan's a terrific student. Thank you.

  
- Great to see you.
- Good night. Take care.

  
- Jim, thank you so much.
- Thanks, Brian.

  
I appreciate you guys coming
to Parents' Night.

  
Drive safe.

  
In every war, there is an enemy.

  
I watched my mother
being half beaten to death

  
and watched as blood and tears
streamed down her face.

  
I felt useless and scared
and furious at the same time.

  
I felt useless and scared
and furious at the same time.

  
Stay there, Brandy. Watch the kids!

  
- Get my money!
- Watch the kids!

  
I can still feel the sting of the belt
on my back and my legs.

  
One time, he couldn't pay the rent.

  
And that night he stopped us on
the street and pointed to the concrete.

  
He said, "Pick a spot. "

  
Clive was my boy.
He had my back plenty of times.

  
We was like one fist, me and him,
one army.

  
- That's heavy.
- Yeah.

  
That's the real shit right here.
Nobody'll jump us now.

  
But we got to practice
'cause this, this got power.

  
You shoot it, it...

  
I sat there till the police came.

  
But when they come, all they see
is a dead body, a gun and a nigga.

  
They took me to juvenile hall.
First night was the scariest.

  
Inmates banging on the walls,

  
throwing up their gang signs, yelling out
who they were, where they're from.

  
I cried my first night.
Can't never let nobody know that.

  
I spent the next few years
in and out of cells.

  
Every day I'd worry,
"When will I be free?"

  
My brother taught me
what the life is for a young black man.

  
Do what you have to,
pimp, deal, whatever.

  
Learn what colors to learn,
gang boundaries.

  
You can stay on one corner,
you can't stay on another.

  
Learn to be quiet.
A wrong word can get you popped.

  
If you look in my eyes,
you'll see a loving girl.

  
If you look at my smile,
you'll see nothing wrong.

  
If you pull up my shirt,
you'll see the bruises.

  
What did I do to make him so mad?

  
At 16, I've seen more dead bodies
than a mortician.

  
Every time I step out my door,
I'm faced with the risk of being shot.

  
To the outside world, it's just another
dead body on the street corner.

  
They don't know that he was my friend.

  
During the war in Cambodia,

  
the camp stripped away
my father's dignity.

  
He sometimes tries
to hurt my mom and me.

  
I feel like I have to protect my family.

  
I was having trouble deciding what
candy I wanted, then I heard gunshots.

  
I looked down to see
that one of my friends

  
had blood coming out of
his back and his mouth.

  
The next day, I pulled up my shirt
and got strapped with a gun

  
I found in an alley by my house.

  
I don't even know how this war started.

  
It's just two sides
who tripped each other way back.

  
Who cares about the history behind it?

  
I am my father's daughter.

  
And when they call me to testify,
I will protect my own no matter what.

  
Nobody cares what I do.
Why should I bother coming to school?

  
My friends are soldiers, not of war,
but of the streets.

  
They fight for their lives.

  
I hate the cold feeling of a gun
against my skin.

  
It makes me shiver.

  
It's a crazy-ass life.
Once you're in, there's no getting out.

  
Every time I jump somebody in

  
and make someone a part of our gang,
it's another baptism.

  
They give us their life,
we give them a new one.

  
I've lost many friends
who have died in an undeclared war.

  
To the soldiers and me, it's all worth it.

  
Risk your life dodging bullets,
pulling triggers.

  
It's all worth it.

  
Rum and Coke.

  
Oh, man.

  
This is...

  
Mr. Gruwell? Your table is ready.
Follow me.

  
- Dad, I got them.
- Okay.

  
Dad, I don't know what to do with this.

  
I'm not a social worker.
I'm barely a teacher.

  
Thank you.

  
These kids, they're 14, 15 years old,

  
and if they make it through the day
alive, that's good enough.

  
And I'm supposed to teach them?

  
Listen to me.

  
You're not responsible
for their lives outside that classroom.

  
- Just do your job the best you can.
- How?

  
The administration
doesn't give me any resources,

  
no books, no support.

  
So, what should I do?

  
Fulfill your obligation
till the end of the school year,

  
but line up another position.

  
Success follows experience.

  
So, get some more experience.

  
But no matter what,
you gotta remember, it's just a job.

  
If you're not right for this one,
get another job.

  
You're gonna sell bras
at a department store?

  
Just part-time.

  
I'm having a little trouble
getting books and things for the kids.

  
So, a little extra money
will give me a little more freedom

  
to do what I want.

  
And this way you can play tennis
with Evan after work.

  
Okay, let me get my head around this.

  
You're going to get an extra job
to pay for your job.

  
It's just temporary. I promise.

  
Once the kids' grades go up,
I'll get a little more help from the school.

  
And I get an employee's discount.
Isn't that great?

  
- Want a new TV?
- Yeah.

  
Excuse me, if I wanted to order
any books in bulk,

  
could I get some sort of a discount?

  
- These books are brand new.
- I know.

  
Okay, guys, gals. Listen up.

  
The only problem with this book is

  
it's about a gang member
and there's violence in it,

  
so you may not be able to read it
as part of the curriculum.

  
So, I'm going to try my best
to get permission, all right?

  
It's been a little difficult
getting their attention.

  
Up until recently, the only thing they
hated more than each other was me.

  
Well, you united them and that's a step.

  
What can I do for you?

  
I want to do more with them, and I need
the support of someone in power.

  
You have to take this up with your
department head and your principal.

  
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?

  
- 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.

  
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?

  
- 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,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 $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!

  
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?

  
- 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.

  
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?

  
- 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,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 $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!


Special thanks to SergeiK.