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Boston Public



MARLA: If she's talking about my mental health, I have something to say about it. This is character assassination, it's what's going on now.

MARSHA: Miss Hendricks, you abandoned your class and wrote on the blackboard 'Going to kill myself.'

MARLA: You're damn right I did. You wanna know why? Because I've had it... Let me tell you something. Let me tell all of you something. The reason I've had it is because I have gone to a room day after day after damned day, and try to break through to a bunch of kids who don't want to listen, don't want to learn, and don't want to give me the decency of being quiet. Harry Senate shot off a gun. I would have rolled in a big cannon if I knew where to get one. I would have tried anything. And you show me a teacher who doesn't almost lose his or her mind sometimes, and I'll show you a teacher who's not trying. I can show you some parents who aren't. You sit in this room, thinking 'Job's done! It's up to the teachers now.' But it doesn't work that way. You got to get in this too. Kids coming into school singing that jingle 'those who can't do, teach'. They get that from their parents. I know what you think of us, well, let me tell you, we are in there doing every damned day, and a lot of doing we do is parenting. You want to compare failures, step right up, whose first?





STEVEN: My attack on Malcolm White is inexcusable. Harry Senate was wrong in firing a gun in his classroom. Marla Hendricks is frustrated. Show me a faculty member who isn't and I'd question his or her commitment. The reason I didn't fire Marla Hendricks, the reason I didn't fire Harry Senate: they are gifted teachers. Lauren Davis allows her class to digress into cannibalism because she saw a spark. What Marsha Shinn left out, when she went into Lauren's class, she saw a room full of students participating, engaged. When Harry Senate fired off that gun, I know the motivation behind it. And he will get to those kids even he has to do it one by one, he will do it. He will break through to each and every one of them.

Those people over there, they are teachers. It's in their hearts. You think they're easy to findů Kids don't want to go to college to become high school faculty members, not when they can make over a million dollars on Wall Street, not when the top salary for a teacher is under $50,000. Over half of the people who get into our profession quit within the first 5 years. It isn't because it isn't in them, it's because they can't continue to keep it in them.

Those people sitting there, it's in them. I've seen it, and they are good teachers. And when the school is lucky enough to get people like them, we don't let go. You live through their mistakes. You get in their faces. You stand in front of them. Tonight, I stand behind them. I may have made my mistakes, but keeping Harry Senate isn't one of them. You want to get rid of me, do it. But don't you be touching them.





MARLA: It's a beautiful room, isn't it? Is there anything more magical than a classroom...





Kevin Jackson's graduation speech

I'm not too good at public speaking. Mr. Guber told me just to speak the truth. Truth is, I don't have any big message. I don't even have any dreams. A lot of my classmates, it's the same thing - no dreams. I think one reason for that... the idea of becoming adults, it isn't something we look forward to. We look around, we see our parents, our coaches, our teachers; who'd want to be them? Our parents mainly think about money, our coaches mainly think about winning, and our teachers... most of you look half-dead every day.

Don't get me wrong. I admire anybody who can go to a place day after day after day and try to teach a bunch of us. But a lot of you are disillusioned. You don't get enough respect. Your days are too long. Your checks are too small. And you get a little more dead with each passing day. And we see that, making us just a little more afraid, day by day. Afraid of the future. And we got no dreams.

The truth is, all of today's kids are disadvantaged. We didn't get to grow up with any Martin Luther King's or Bobby Kennedy's. They didn't make any Jackie Robinson's in our generation. Today's heroes - they're not presidents. But I'm standin' up here to say: there are heroes among us. Sometimes they're parents, sometimes they're classmates, sometimes they're teachers. One of my teachers, he never let me forget, every day, that I could be somethin'. He took an interest in me. Mr. Harper is here fightin' for us every day, with eyes that never go dead. I want to be a principal.

I guess my big message for today is: heroes are in the grass sometimes. They're not always on billboards and magazine covers. You got to look for them - even when they're standing right in front of you. So do that. Let's live our lives trying to do that. Spot 'em. Point 'em out to your kids. Maybe there's dreams out there in the grass, too.

And now, I'll ask all of you to applaud, because I'm finished.



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