On the flip side of The Blackboard Jungle story of several years ago is Mountridge High School--the showcase of American public high schools. Mountridge citizens are affluent, civic-minded, cultured, and dedicated to getting the best possible education for their children. Their offspring do not have to be sent to private schools, because M.H.S. ...
On the flip side of The Blackboard Jungle story of several years ago is Mountridge High School--the showcase of American public high schools. Mountridge citizens are affluent, civic-minded, cultured, and dedicated to getting the best possible education for their children. Their offspring do not have to be sent to private schools, because M.H.S. outshines them all. Mountridge High has easily available funds, modern amenities, state of the art technology, excellent teachers, and professional staff members. Mountridge High School, however, hides a cancer which devours it - drug abuse. School administrators, trustees, police, and parents, all deny the problem which the humble classroom teacher knows only too well. Money buys not only drugs, but also immunity and protection form criminal prosecution. Although big money translates to forgiveness of sins, it does not prevent the destruction of promising young lives. The Guilty Teacher's vast tapestry of characters clearly depicts the intricacy of the American public school system. School administrators, some corrupted by power and influence and the need to curry favor with influential citizens, ofter separate themselves from their teaching comrades. A few try to do what's right but are often defeated by the system. Dr. Susan Baker, at least, understands the problems and fights from with the system for improvement. While some teachers just put their time in an do no more, teachers like Pete Clairwood strive valiantly to balance their calling to educate young people with the daily abuse from students and corrupted administrators and the pressure from their families to do anything besides teach. They are often pawns in administrative political maneuvers and too frequently become convenient scapegoats for many of the school's and society's problems. Kenneth Waymart is the corrupted "golden boy" athlete who has gotten himself into a deeper hole with local drug dealers than he ever intended. Jeff Taskend III, Mountridge High's valedictorian, represents the terrible choices that good, conscientious teenages feel they must make: choices between popularity or conformity, compromise or despair, parental approval or peer approval. Their shared love interest, Charlotte Van Tabor, hides a secret from her prominent parents and her adoring new boyfriend until she can no longer bear the strain. Immersion in the emotional roller coaster of these complicated lives is immediate and powerful. Tender family ties and adolescent love are offset by dark secrets of generation-old mistakes, terror-laden threats from dangerous drug dealers and desperate human passions. Although Susan Baker and other committed educators realize that the gap between the children and the adults has widened to such an extent in recent decades that it is practically impossible to cross, they are convinced that their profession might be the only one which can have a positive impact on shaping the future of America's children.
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