with keeping their paychecks when faced with a lawsuit. Jurel is
portrayed as an outsider. As such, he is one of the only teachers in the
film to somewhat conform to The Hollywood Model marking good
teachers as outsiders, personally involved with students, learning from
students, experiencing tension with administrators, and personalizing
the curriculum making it no surprise he faces many conflicts in his
mission to educate these left-behind students (Dalton 25-38). One of
the categories of conflict Jurel faces is also with parent-teacher
relationships, specifically in one scene when Jurel attempts to move an
unruly student into a higher level course. Despite the fact that Jurel is
trying to help the student by encouraging him to expand his mind to
new opportunities, the student’s mother becomes angry as she is
depicted in a meeting with Jurel reminding him that his job is to keep
her son out of trouble and that is it.
This short yet important scene advances the plot by adding
opposition to a struggling teacher who already has so many odds against
him. That being said, this interaction is predictable not only based on
other movies but also based on the fact that the film promotes the
classic “against all odds” image. This scene allows the film to add to
that image, but it also detracts from the film as it fails to both develop
a successful teacher image and to promote any sign of support from
parents for teachers. By including this scene of a parent reminding the
teacher that he has the job of a babysitter more so than an educator, the
film reinforces the stereotype of a “Charlie Brown teacher.” Just as in
the Charlie Brown television specials when the teacher stands at the
front of the room speaking while the students only hear, “blah, blah,
blah,” Jurel is limited to that same image as even a parent tries to
infringe on his important power as a teacher. Had this parent actually
stood in support of the hard work Jurel put into each one of his
students, the film could have created a more unconventional plot. In
addition, the film would have been able to also get the message across
of how important teachers are and the sacrifices they make every day to
encourage young people. By having the teacher belittled by a parent
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