In a fit of idealism, Ed Boland left a 20-year career as a nonprofit executive to teach in a tough New York City public high school. But his hopes quickly collided headlong with the appalling reality of his students' lives and a hobbled education system unable to help them: Freddy runs a drug ring for his incarcerated brother; Nee-cole is homeschooled on the subway by her brilliant homeless mother; and Byron's Ivy League dream is dashed because he is undocumented.
In the end, Boland isn't hoisted on his students' shoulders, and no one passes AP anything. This is no urban fairy tale of at-risk kids saved by a Hollywood hero but a searing indictment of schools that claim to be progressive but still fail their students. Told with compassion, humor, and a keen eye, Boland's story is sure to ignite debate about the future of American education and attempts to reform it.
©2016 Ed Boland (P)2016 Hachette Audio
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Critic reviews

"By turns harrowing and hilarious, Ed Boland's memoir about teaching in a New York City high school is raw, moving, and smashes the dangerous myth of the hero-teacher. The story told in The Battle for Room 314 shows us how high the stakes are for our most vulnerable students, and offers a fresh view and a pointed and powerful first-person perspective on American public education." (Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison)
" The Battle for Room 314 chronicles a year of gladiatorial altruism in the unruly arena of American public education. Ed Boland shares the startling, funny, audacious, and sad confrontations and conundrums he must puzzle his way through after deciding to try his hand at one of the most important, least appreciated professions in this country: teaching. His vivid anecdotes ensure there will be no reader left behind. Like his students, he sometimes fails a test, but he never loses hope, and his story gleams with insight and urgency." (Andrew Solomon, National Book Award winner and author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity)
" The Battle for Room 314 is a personal account of Ed Boland's jarring foray into the high school classroom from the world of fundraising. With humor, insight, and grim persistence, Bolan grapples with the realities of his students lives as they all face the enduring issue of poverty. This memoir is a humbling reminder that no teacher is an island, and that schools, systems, and communities all share a responsibility to ensure that every child has access to a quality education." (James E. Ryan, dean of the faculty and Charles William Eliot professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Ms Madden on 06-03-16

Did you like the book? Yes But...

Yes, I really enjoyed this book. Ed told his story with humor and compassion. I found myself laughing out loud through out the story. It's heartbreaking to hear how some kids in our country are being raised.
But... He managed to hit on all of the liberal talking points...everyone was homophobic in the early 80s...the military is looked down upon....2 wars that were unjustified and illegal. He did mention Obama hasn't done anything about poverty, but that is low hanging fruit. No president will handle that hot potato. The most egregious mistake was whitewashing the teachers union in ruining our education system. Each year they give about 90% of their money to liberal causes that has nothing to do with helping kids. In 2007 that was 80 million dollars. That would help a lot of kids.
Until we have politicians who really want change, and have the courage to make it happen, our education system in the US will continue to be broken.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By ERIC on 22-04-16

Fun series of anecdotes

Where does The Battle for Room 314 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

While not something I could listen to a second time, this was an enjoyable recounting of outlandish anecdotes from an equally-bizarre author. It was light, succinct, and a pleasant venture outside of my usual listening.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The first-person narrative is read by the author himself. I went into this book expecting to relate more to the author and side with him against his students. Instead, the author is almost as surreal a stereotype as the unteachable inner-city minority kids. There seems to be little grounding for any character in this book. When I finally reconciled that the narrator was nearly as absurd as his subjects, I could finally relax a bit and enjoy the rest of his tale.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narrator is not particularly expressive, but did an alright job telling his story. I got a slight feeling that the author lost some of his enthusiasm as a result of reading his editor's revision, rather than his own stream of consciousness.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Ed Boland left a high-paying sinecure as a fundraiser for minority scholarships to go on a quest for social justice and racial equality. He lasted one school year in the trenches before retreating back to his old job, receiving a raise for his troubles. He made no progress in saving the world.I imagined the epilogue would offer more of a personal catharsis for Mr. Boland. If the lessons are that such students are largely unteachable, that diversity does not lead to tolerance and harmony, and that resources are better spent elsewhere, then Mr. Boland learned nothing. He retreated to his bubble, gradually regaining his sanity, and renewed his beliefs that with more money and refined micromanagement, someday his do-gooder dream could be realized. He had forgotten the cause of his madness.I was disappointed with this ending, though not entirely surprised.

Any additional comments?

This is certainly a unique tale and would be of interest to anyone with overlapping concerns about interracial relations, cultural norms, public schools, and the rest of the gamut.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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