What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, thanks to its hip-hop soundtrack and rebellious teen characters, this drama about high school students will appeal to many kids. It deals with some mature themes -- gang violence, loss of a friend or family member, the Holocaust -- in tasteful, if formulaic, ways. Violent scenes include fighting on campus and a street shooting (a boy is killed, his bloody chest visible). Kids argue with each other and their teacher, disrespecting her verbally and laughing at her. Students discuss the Holocaust, Anne Frank, and meet a survivor who describes her ordeal. Students write about their losses in their journals, which the teacher reads out loud or in voiceover (these are sad moments). Language includes several uses of "s--t," "damn," and one use of the n-word in anger (the context is a student journal description of police abuses).
- Families can talk about the way that Erin engages her students -- by listening to them. How is this an effective way to teach? How do the students learn from one other when they share their stories? How is the Holocaust a helpful historical example for these "at-risk" students? What do they learn from Anne Frank's ability to see beauty in the world even in her bleak situation? How does Erin's dedication to her students affect her personal life? What other movies is this one similar to? What sets it apart?