The Marva Collins Story (1981) Movie Script

NARRATOR: In 1975, a schoolteacher
who lived and taught...
in one of Chicago's
most distressed areas...
became disenchanted
with public education.
Convinced that the failure
of children to learn...
was the result of bureaucratic red tape
and apathetic teachers...
she rebelled and challenged the system.
That teacher is Marva Collins...
and this is her story.
Hmm. Patty.
Here. Now, remember,
anybody tries to take it from you...
you just give it up. Understand?
- Yes, sir.
Come on, Daddy. I'll be late.
- Eric, do you have your lunch money?
- Yes, ma'am.
I have to stay after.
- I have a teacher's conference.
- Mm.
Listen here.
Remember, keep your temper.
I can't. Not if I think my students
are gonna get the short end.
Marva, you can't fight
the whole system, sugar.
Wanna bet?
You should have cereal in your mouth,
- Not smart remarks.
- Hmm-mm-mm.
Just what do you think
you're doing over there?
Hey, you, cut that out.
But were I Brutus and Brutus Antony...
there were an Antony
would ruffle up your spirits...
and put a tongue
in every wound of Caesar...
that should move the stones of Rome
to rise and mutiny.
Very good.
Very, very good.
So now we know that Antony's oration
of Caesar was a good example of what?
- Eddie?
- How words can sway the masses.
And what happens
when words sway you that way?
We don't think for ourselves.
Are you going to be like the masses?
Are you going to allow words
to hypnotize you?
- You're going to do what?
STUDENTS: Think for ourselves.
Take your seats.
What did you think,
this is a toy or what?
Look, I will take care of this, okay?
False alarm.
If you children want to go outside, fine.
Me? I have a lot of teaching to do
and I'm gonna go right on doing it.
Okay, where were we?
People. People. People!
We gotta get
our federal reports in on time.
The deadline was last Thursday.
I got seven...
and three of those are incomplete.
Mr. Duffy, is there anything we can do...
about the false alarms
that interrupt classes?
False alarms are not on the agenda.
You'll have to wait on that one.
But we had another one today.
That is the sixth one this week.
Last week, we had eight of them.
Can't we do something
about those alarms?
Mrs. Collins, we're supposed to be talking
about registers and federal reports.
The deadline was last week
and some still haven't turned them in.
Tomorrow. Mine will be in tomorrow.
MARVA: Mr. Duffy, there are always forms
to be filled out someplace.
They are eternal.
It is the loss of teaching time
that concerns me.
You're the assistant principal...
talk to the district.
Can't they lessen our paperwork?
The district?
Those numskulls lose one more IQ point
and Duffy will be talking to a plant.
That is not funny.
Just say you'll do the reports
so we can get out of here.
Yeah, give them some busy work
and fill in the reports during class.
Class time is for teaching.
Why bother? They won't learn.
They won't learn if we don't bother.
I've scheduled a field trip
for next Wednesday. The zoo.
The children have already gone
to the zoo.
The children love field trips.
I think you love field trips, Miss Denny.
It's easier than teaching.
MARVA: The children don't even know
which zoo they visited.
In case you haven't noticed, Mrs. Collins,
we are in a ghetto.
These children don't wanna learn.
The ghetto...
is not the enemy, Miss Denny.
- I suppose you mean we are.
Indifference is.
I've had it up to here
with your platitudes, Mrs. Collins.
I for one don't get my kicks
out of playing dress-up...
and strutting through this school
quoting the classics.
I dress the way I do, Miss Denny...
because I happen to believe
that my children deserve a positive image.
FEMALE TEACHER: I agree with her.
DUFFY: Ladies, ladies, please.
The agenda, the agenda. Thank you.
The next item. The boys' bathroom
in the south hall, okay?
From now on during regular class time,
the boys' bathroom will be locked.
Don't even bother to issue hall passes
in this hallway.
I still happen to have this false alarm on
my floor that keeps going off, Mr. Duffy.
Mrs. Collins, don't you have anything better
to do than worry about that damn fire bell?
- Yes, I do.
Teaching. But between irrelevant zoo trips
and false alarms, we are losing the battle.
You are robbing us of class time,
Mr. Duffy.
Why don't you send your agenda
on a field trip and let us teach?
Come on, man, hurry up.
Patty, I've asked you not to put
your fingers on the windows.
- Especially with glue on them.
- Mom, Cindy's looking at me again.
Tell her to stop looking at me.
I'm not looking at him,
I'm looking through him.
Cindy, please stop looking
through your brother.
And by the way, go downstairs and get me the
clothes out of the machine, sweetheart.
Oh, hi, Dad.
- Hey, pumpkin.
- Hey, Cindy.
May I go to Lenny's house next Sunday?
Patty, now you know
that Sunday's family day.
We were gonna go to the park
on Sunday and fly these rockets.
Hi, Mom. Oh, yeah. I kind of forgot, Dad.
Oh, yeah. I kind of forgot, Dad.
- You get everything?
- Oh, yeah, sure.
So how did your teacher's meeting go?
I can't face another term, Clarence.
I just can't.
I still want to quit.
Well, sugar, you're gonna do
what you're gonna do.
- You want to teach someplace else, do it.
- No.
I want to open my own school.
- Open your own school?
- Yes.
Oh, you think you're worn out now.
At least that way I'll be able to give
some of the children in the area...
the education they deserve.
Yeah, sugar, but you'll be giving up one set
of problems for a whole set of bigger ones.
Clarence, there will always be problems.
Just going to school for some
of these children is a problem.
So where are you
gonna have your school?
How are you gonna pay for it?
Please don't try to stop me with details.
I will find a place
and I will find the money.
Sugar pie, tell me something.
Does the word impossible
have any meaning for you at all?
BOY 1: I'll jump on you, boy.
Hey, boy, you better be cool.
BOY 2:
I'm not.
just a minute, please.
- What is your name?
- Martin.
Martin, I know you can find
a lot better things to do...
with your arms and your legs.
Go to your class.
- Are you all right, sweetheart?
- Yes.
- Are you sure?
- Yes.
All right.
My children follow me, please.
Why do you even bother, Mrs. Collins?
The kid's nothing but trouble.
And he's a dummy.
Nine years old,
he can't even spell his name.
Now, that's not funny, children.
You do not laugh at things like that.
Come on. Inside.
We didn't do it.
Of course not. Whoever did it has a key.
- Do you want me to get Mr. Duffy?
- No. That's not necessary.
Please, go take your seats, children.
I want a few of you
to help me pick up some of this.
this kind of reminds me of Hercules.
- You children remember the Greek myths?
Hercules had 12 labors to perform.
MARVA: One of them
was a bigger mess than this.
- Do you remember what he had to do?
- What did he have to do?
STUDENTS: Clean out the stables.
Augean stables. Can you say that?
Augean stables.
All right.
I wanna hear some themes.
Please, sit down, children.
Sit down. Thank you for helping me.
All right, darling. Thank you so much.
All right, Eddie...
how about you going first?
Why do people keep ripping up our class?
You children.
You children have been doing
wonderfully well.
And I guess I've been sharing my pride...
with the wrong people
at the wrong time.
Some people get jealous.
But we will never let others stop us
from what?
All right, so let's have your theme.
Listen, peach...
whoever messed up my desk...
wants to upset us.
And it's up to us to decide
whether we're gonna let them or not.
And quitting or running to Mr. Duffy,
or even crying isn't gonna change a thing.
Quitting did not build the Sears Tower
nor did it write the Magna Carta.
Children, you must remember
that when you enter the work force...
nobody's going to care that they broke
into your teacher's room.
Or whether or not you had sheets
to sleep on when you were little.
Or whether you grew up in the ghetto.
The only thing your boss
is gonna care about is what?
- Whether you can or can't.
STUDENTS: Or can't.
That's right.
who is the most important child
in this world?
- I am.
- And what is the most important time?
- Now.
- Now.
And I don't want you
to waste either one of them.
let's have your theme.
"It was the best of times.
It was the worst of times.
It was the time of War and Peace.
The Nutcracker Suite
and Tolstoy and Dostoevsky."
ERIC: Look, Patrick, look at it.
- Eric, Cindy, look, look!
Ha! Ha!
Oh, there it is.
CINDY: Where is it?
- Come on.
Why'd it do that?
Oh, man. That's bad.
Look at that. Oh, man.
Let's go.
PATTY: Come on.
ERIC: Come on, Patrick. Let's go chase it.
I've made up my mind, Clarence.
I'm not going back.
What you're saying is
you're serious about starting that school.
We can do it, Clarence.
I know we can.
What's a school?
A teacher and some students, right?
And books and desks and blackboards.
- What about a classroom? - We can
just move out the tenants upstairs.
And those two back rooms,
we'll break down the wall between them.
- A classroom, that's all I need.
- Oh, babe, it's not that simple.
Everything would have to be rewired,
And if we move those tenants out,
our income will be cut down even more.
My retirement fund's almost $5000,
I'll get donations.
I'll write to big companies.
I'll ask for desks, papers,
whatever else we need.
All right, all right, fine.
What about students?
Who's gonna donate them?
- The neighborhood.
- Oh, Marva.
These people can't afford tuition.
Well, they pay parochial schools.
And I know whatever they do,
I can do better.
- You'd draw out your retirement money?
- Yes, I would.
It means that much to you?
I guess you better
turn in your keys then.
File for your permit.
Thank you.
Excuse me.
Excuse me, can you help me, please?
Did you take a number?
What can I do for you?
I'd like to open
a private elementary school.
I'd like to apply for a license.
You don't need one.
No county or state license is required.
You mean, anyone can start a school without
a permit, credentials, or anything?
That's about the size of it.
Unless you want recognition.
No, thanks. I already know who I am.
No, I mean you don't
have to have a license.
But you do want the state
to know who you are.
When you apply for recognition,
a team will visit you...
and they will check your schools
for health, safety and curriculum.
Once you have their sanction,
you got free milk, free books.
He who eats my bread, does my will. Heh.
I beg your pardon?
You see,
if I accepted government handouts...
I'd have to listen to them. I don't
want anyone telling me how to teach.
Suit yourself.
But there are a lot of parents that won't put
their kids in a school unless it's recognized.
Now just a minute, please.
I'm a little confused.
Let me get this straight.
For me to get recognition, I would
have to fill out all of these forms...
but if I wanted a license to start my
school, I wouldn't have to do anything?
Amazing, isn't it?
Well, what if I were crazy
or demented or illiterate?
If you're illiterate, you're lucky.
No forms to fill out.
Cindy, put your jacket on.
Hi, Daddy.
CINDY: Hi, Dad.
ERIC: Hi, Dad.
PATTY: Hi, Daddy.
CLARENCE: Hey, hey.
MARVA: How did you do?
The retirement money will be gone
before school opens.
MARVA: I'm glad I took in that extra work
for the hospital.
CLARENCE: But we're gonna need
more than that to keep us on top.
- What about your letter-writing campaign?
MARVA: Four hundred thirty-nine.
I've written every major corporation
in Chicago.
Did you get any replies?
MARVA: Well, one company sent us a check
for five dollars.
Another one sent us a bunch of old paper
they were gonna throw away anyway.
Oh, that's big of them.
Bigger than 437 others.
- Ready, gang?
KIDS: Yeah.
Here we go.
We christen thee...
- What is it?
- Westside Preparatory School.
We christen thee
Westside Preparatory school.
Hit it.
Come on. Hurry up.
We're gonna get caught.
No, we're not. Hurry up.
Hey, you kids. Get out of there.
Come on, let's go.
you can do a pile over there.
- My gracious.
What happened here?
- Somebody rob a bookstore?
- Hi, baby.
No, a school. They were getting rid of them,
and Cindy and I heard about it.
Five loads before we got caught.
CLARENCE: Who would think nails
would cost so much?
Oh, by the way,
Cindy, Patty, pay attention.
Your mama and I were talking.
We really can't afford tuition.
So how would you like to go
to school upstairs?
- Fantastic!
CINDY: Great.
CLARENCE: All right.
- What about me, Dad?
Well, you're a little old
for your mama's school, son.
So you'll just have to keep going
to St. Joseph's, all right?
Guess what. Aunt Cynthia called.
MARVA: She's coming to visit us.
Now... Wait, Eric. Stay right there.
Honey, let him go.
- Let him go.
- I broke my back putting that window in.
You want him to break every window?
- What do you do with kids like this?
MARVA: Let go.
CLARENCE: Somebody ought to...
- Do what? Sue him?
Take away his bike? Let him go.
He doesn't have a thing to lose.
we don't have money
to fix broken windows.
You break our windows
and we're going to be cold.
Now you know what it's like to be cold,
don't you?
Don't you?
And you don't want me
and my family to be cold, do you?
I didn't think so.
Come on, now.
You gonna help me clean up this mess?
And didn't I break up
a scuffle you were in at school?
Yeah, but, hey, we not be knowing
this your house, teacher.
We just sort of chucking rocks
at everything.
My dad flew one of them.
Is he a pilot?
Not a pilot exactly.
He were a gunner's mate
on a chopper in Vietnam.
And that's practically the pilot
because no one be flying without him.
My dad's gonna get me a model like that.
When I grow up,
I'm gonna be a pilot just like him.
One day they're gonna have kids and I hope
they don't put their tools back either.
Mrs. Jones, I'm Marva Collins.
- What do you want? - I used to
be a teacher at Martin's school.
- Has he been in some kind of trouble?
- No, no.
I'm starting a school.
A place to teach children...
what they aren't getting
from public schools.
- I ain't going to no school.
- Martin.
Teachers don't think your son
is too bright.
I think they're wrong.
I think he's a real winner.
Then why can't he read and write?
May I come in?
Read and write, who wants to?
Well, you wanna be a flyer,
don't you, peach?
If you don't learn to read and write...
the closest you'll ever get to a plane
is looking up at it in the sky.
She's right, Martin.
The school says he needs to be
in a learning disability class.
Has it helped him any?
No, but I really don't know
what else to do.
Ever since his daddy left...
that boy been a six-pack of lightning.
- Give me a chance.
We don't have much money.
Pay what you can.
Well, I do like what you say.
We'll see.
But even if I said yes...
you still have to get him there.
I think if Martin wants to be a flyer...
if he really wants to be a winner...
he'll come by himself.
Come on, baby.
Oh, now wait.
What happened
to that stained-glass window?
- A gang busted it.
- Nine-year-old.
That window
was Clarence's pride and joy too.
Hey, look. Two hams this time.
MARVA: Ooh! What a Christmas.
- Must be a ton of beef here.
Why is mother always sending us
all this frozen beef, Cynthia?
- Because you live in a ghetto.
- Oh, please.
She thinks you're all starving to death.
We're a school now, Aunt Cynthia.
Did you know that?
All by ourselves, a schoolhouse, now.
Emphasis on the "all by ourselves."
But wait until you see
the classroom, Cynthia.
It is wonderful! Oh, I am so excited.
I'm gonna have a hard time
explaining myself to Mama. Heh.
She sent me up here
to talk you out of all this.
If Mom was in Chicago...
she'd be out on the streets
rounding up students.
Well, I guess it's just as well
that she's not here.
Why are you doing this?
I want to teach.
So transfer to another school.
You don't have to stay
in this neighborhood.
This neighborhood
used to be a very nice place.
And after 15 years, I still care about it.
But to give up a well-paying job,
your retirement money, your tenants.
You're putting all of that on the line for a
school that can't hope to support itself.
Marva, you have three
of your own children to educate.
Cindy and Patty will go to school here.
And you know
I wouldn't short-change them.
What about Eric?
He wants to be a doctor.
How do you hope to finance that?
We'll find a way.
This school is going to work, Cynthia.
Don't ask me how.
I just know it.
It's going to work.
Leave me alone.
I don't understand.
He was coming right home...
- Now just stop it, will you please?
- He started it.
Home from work, you know?
I'm afraid you'll miss your flight.
Oh, no, no, it'll be okay.
We have a few more minutes.
Hey, that's our car.
The one with the desk on top of it.
Oh, Daddy bought some desks.
What in the world?
Well, I know he didn't buy any desks.
We can't afford to buy desks.
- I'm sorry I'm late.
MARVA: What happened?
A guy at work gave me a tip
on a liquidation sale.
ERIC: Hi, Dad.
MARVA: Liquidation sale?
What kind of store selling
students' desks?
It wasn't a store. It was a boys' school.
It went out of business.
I hope that's not an omen.
CLARENCE: I got them for $2 a piece.
- Two doll...
But it was now or never.
They wanted them gone.
Come on. Come on.
- What about us?
- No time. There's not enough room.
Sweetheart. Come here, Eric.
Mm! Mm.
You know...
this week went by too fast.
Too fast, baby, I know.
- What are you doing?
- Well...
it's for the school from Mama and me.
- Cynthia, I can't do that. Really...
- Shh.
I can be just as stubborn as you,
you know.
You're a rascal, you know, kid.
Come here, baby. Mm!
Don't you worry about a thing.
You've got all the guts you need.
Kiss Mama for me, baby.
- And have a good trip back.
- Okay.
How much money do we have left?
After we pay for the new books we ordered,
about $40.
How many students you got?
Counting Patty and Cindy, five.
Any paying?
Well, just so you know,
if we're gonna break even...
about two-thirds of these desks here
have to have paying customers.
We'll make it, Clarence.
I just know we will.
Oh, by the way, Bob Clemons called.
He wants me to remodel his basement.
Well, I hope you told him you couldn't.
- You've been working too hard, honey.
- Sugar, we can use the money.
From here on out, we're living on plastic.
What is it?
Open it.
"To my precious husband...
the moving force of my dream.
My love and my thanks, Marva.
P.S. This is good for 25 free
half-hour backrubs."
Comme a.
I thought I'd put a buzzer up here.
- Thank you.
- You keep your seat. I'll get it.
I'm going that way anyway.
I'm gonna celebrate.
I'm gonna do something I have not done
in a long, long time.
I'm going to fall asleep
in front of the TV.
Yeah, baby?
Thank you.
Mrs. Collins?
- Yes?
- I'm Lela Boland.
Your husband let me in.
Can I help you?
Is this the school Miss Johnston's
daughter Roxanne's gonna go to?
I, uh...
came about my little girl, Tina.
She's 10.
She's been going to the 5th grade
over at St. Mary's.
But I was hoping maybe
you would take her.
My husband and me...
we didn't even know it was nothing
wrong until the last day of school.
I mean, Chester and I could see
that she wasn't learning so fast.
But we figured the school knew
what it was doing.
Then all of a sudden...
they tell us Tina
can't even read...
and they're gonna have
to hold her back.
Please, sit down.
Mrs. Collins...
when they told Tina she was failing...
it was like something went out of her.
She don't hardly talk no more.
And when she does, all she can say is:
"Mommy, am I dumb?"
Or, "Am I a retard?"
And she's so nervous.
Real nervous, like, uh...
And sad.
I took her to a psychiatrist.
He said it was trauma.
He said that school
really messed her up.
Here. That's two hundred dollars.
And when it's used up...
you let me know.
No. I can't take your money yet, honey.
Why don't we just try it for a few days.
- Maybe if...
- No.
My child can't take no maybes.
If she starts, she stays.
I hear you're a good teacher.
Real kind and gentle.
Please, Mrs. Collins.
All right.
All right.
Have her here tomorrow morning...
at 8:00?
Thank you.
I can find my way out.
Thank you, Mrs. Collins.
It's all right.
Thank you, again.
Thank you.
Two hundred dollars.
You gave that woman $200
to send our baby to this?
This is just a broken
down old house.
Where are the playgrounds?
Where are the classrooms?
At the other school, she had...
She wasn't learning nothing.
LELA: What are we supposed to do?
Send her back there?
Put her in a public school?
When you think about it,
we don't have no choice.
Good morning, children.
I am Mrs. Collins.
Welcome to success.
It is the opposite of failure.
It is from a language called Latin.
It means to achieve...
to get riches, fame...
It means climbing the highest
mountain on Earth...
or seeing the pyramids.
It means learning to fly...
going to the moon...
Handsome boys do not chew gum.
- Or becoming president
of the United States.
You children...
were born to win.
And I'm going show you how.
Class will start at 9.
Lunch, 12:30.
It will last only 20 minutes.
You will come here clean
and well-groomed.
If you don't, there's plenty of soap
and water right downstairs.
There'll be no baby work.
No See Spot Run books.
So you won't be bored.
But it will be hard.
You will read a difficult book
twice a month.
You'll memorize a poem every week.
And you'll write a theme
every single day.
There'll be mathematics, vocabulary...
- Say what?
I ain't doing all that junk.
Who needs it?
I don't gotta learn nothing.
It's all right, Martin.
If you do not wish to learn,
if you do not want an education...
all you have to look forward to in life
is poverty and welfare.
You see, children.
The system has people conned.
Welfare is just another word for slavery.
For instance, did you ever know a child
on welfare to go to Hawaii?
To eat in fine restaurants?
Live in nice houses?
That's the first thing I hope you learn.
That there are no free rides.
That you pay a price for everything.
So if you want to live a decent life,
you'll just have to work for it.
I ain't doing none of that stuff.
"I am not doing any of that stuff,"
Any of that stuff.
- Say it. I am not doing...
- I am not doing...
any of that stuff.
any of that stuff.
You have that right.
It is a free country, Martin.
If you do not wish to learn,
you have the right to fail.
Now listen...
I love you.
I love you.
You're a bright boy.
You're a handsome boy.
But you do not have the right to disturb
the other children's right to learn.
Now if you wish to fail,
you may do so quietly.
Stop interrupting.
And stop tapping that pencil.
Pick it up.
Pick it up.
Thank you.
All right, children.
Let's get to work.
In one month's time, you will be able
to read any word you can say.
You will do it with a special word key.
MARVA: If you wanted to get into a house
without a key...
you would have to break
the doors down or force your way into it.
- With a key, it's easier. Right?
MARVA: Right, Mrs. Collins.
STUDENTS: Right, Mrs. Collins.
With a special word key,
we no longer have to guess at words...
or struggle to get inside of them.
You see these alphabet cards?
They are our greatest friends...
because they will help us to learn
the sounds that each letter makes.
would you recite the alphabet for us?
Come on, sweetheart.
I know some of them.
Of course you do.
Come on. Give it a try.
Let's see that pretty face, come on.
Come on, sweetheart.
Good try, Roxanne.
Good try.
Good try.
All right, Tina.
How much of it do you know?
My, don't we look pretty this morning
in our little green bows? Hmm?
Come on. How much do you know?
Please, I can't.
I... I be too dumb.
"I am," sweetheart.
"I be" is idiomatic slang.
And we never say "can't."
Not in this school.
So, if I ever hear you talk like that
again, it's 30 lashes with a wet noodle.
- Come on, darling. Come on.
MARTIN: Teacher, me!
I know the alphabet.
All right, Martin.
Maybe Tina would like to write it instead.
Would you like to write it, Tina,
while Martin says it?
- All right, Martin. Go ahead,
let's hear it. - A.
B. C.
MARVA: Slower.
- E. F. G. H.
MARVA: Very good, Tina.
- I. J. K.
- Very good.
- Slower, Martin.
- Dang. That's wrong.
MARVA: Not wrong, Martin.
We do not say wrong.
That's very good, Tina.
It's a good try. It's not quite right.
But together we'll make it right.
We'll proofread it.
- Children, when we make a mis...
MARTIN: I don't wanna see this stupid junk.
would you like me to sit down
and show how well I can behave...
while you come up here and teach?
When we make a mistake, children,
we do not erase it...
because we'll only make the same
mistake again.
What we do is proofread it
by putting a circle around it.
That way we remember the letter
and the sound.
Very good, Tina.
Very good.
Look at that. A happy face.
You've made me very happy
just by trying.
You know something, Tina...
you will never fail again.
I promise you.
Because I won't let you.
That's very, very good.
You call that education?
Tina in the 5th grade,
that woman teaching her the ABC's.
- Shh. She'll hear you.
- I don't care if she hear me.
Look at it. It is not right.
Mrs. Collins explained
that when I picked Tina up.
She says Tina's been too wounded
to be corrected much.
She has to take it slow,
win Tina's confidence.
Just like that other school.
Hold her hand.
Help her make mistakes until she fail
altogether. I won't have it, Lela.
It's been one day, Chester.
Give the woman a chance.
I want you to get your money back. Take
that girl, put her in a parochial school.
- I want you to do it tomorrow.
- If that's what you want, then you do it.
Don't go taking back none of my money.
That smile on my baby's face
is the first one I've seen in months.
And at $200, I think
that's a real bargain.
- And what do the ants do?
ALL: Work.
- And the grasshoppers?
ALL: Play.
- The ants put first things first.
ALL: First.
Roxanne, Tina, and Martin, please go
to the board and spell the word "first."
The rest of you work on your math,
Look at the alphabet charts, children.
What is the sound
that the angry cat makes?
Angry cat. Angry cat.
Roaring lion, roaring lion. Ir, ir, ir.
Flat tire, flat tire. Sss, sss, sss.
You're writing too small, pet.
You're afraid I'll see your mistakes.
Remember children, if you cannot make
a mistake, you cannot make anything.
Ticking clock.
Ticking clock, ticking clock. Ti, ti, ti.
Laudo. Laudo.
It is Latin for "I praise you." See, pet?
You got it right.
You got it right. You have just proven
that if you know the rules...
you never have to guess at anything.
You are just getting so smart, lamb. Hmm?
I'm gonna have to put you on my payroll.
I'm bored.
You said we wouldn't be bored.
You don't look bored to me, Martin.
You look angry.
But that's all right.
Everybody gets angry sometime.
For instance, sometimes, sweetheart,
I get so angry with children...
not knowing how to read and write,
that I could just cry.
I love you, sweetheart.
I love you so much
that all I want for you in this life...
is that you learn to read and write.
And then you'll never ever
have to be bored again.
Of course now, if you'd rather go back to
that other school where you just color...
and have potty recesses like a baby,
that's all right with me.
It's a free country.
I won't hold you.
- Cindy, get that for me, honey.
- Yes, ma'am.
All right?
Let's get back to Aesop's fable.
What was the moral?
What do you think "The Ant and
the Grasshopper" is trying to tell us?
Work, work, work.
Good morning.
- Good morning.
- Is your mom home?
- Who are you?
- I'm from the fire department.
I'm an inspector.
- Is she home?
- Well, why do you wanna know?
Somebody told us
she's operating a school here.
- I wanna make sure it's safe.
- Who?
Who what?
Who said my mommy
was operating a school?
Somebody in the neighborhood.
So is she?
Is she which?
At home or operating a school?
Either. Both.
You'll have to ask her.
- I will if you'll go get her.
- I can't.
- Why not?
- She's at school.
And in the end, Jude died,
right in the side of Christminster.
He could hear the bells of the school
where he always wanted to go...
but never could.
And Arabella didn't make it.
It was real sad.
That's a beautiful story, Cindy.
Wasn't that a beautiful story, children?
Yes, Mrs. Collins.
Now that's a book that I have not read.
- May I borrow it from you, Cindy?
- Yes, ma'am.
You see, children, I'm still learning.
What is the lesson to be learned
from Thomas Hardy's book?
What do you think he's trying to tell us
in Jude the Obscure?
Well, in that society of England,
education was denied...
people who weren't from the right class,
who didn't have any money.
Right. Now let's tell our new students,
and Francine,
why it's so important to learn.
So we can think for ourselves.
- Think for yourselves.
STUDENTS: Think for ourselves.
You see, children.
I teach you because I love you.
But I never want to teach you
my thoughts.
Your thoughts must be your own.
Martin will never have thoughts
of his own...
because he's too busy to think.
So when the man comes and offers him two
10s for a $50 bill, he'll never know...
whether he has a good deal or not.
- I know that.
He'd have to give me five 10s for a 50.
I'm no dummy.
Then maybe you know that the good Lord
gave us two ears and one mouth...
so we could listen twice
as much as we talk.
I can listen and talk at the same time
because I's as fine as a shiny new dime.
Beautiful, Martin. Beautiful.
Now for tomorrow, I want you to look up
the etymology of the word "dime."
Where and when it was minted.
How much silver went into it.
That's your homework for tomorrow.
Because I'm gonna get more than a shiny
new dime's worth of learning out of you.
- Yah! Yah!
- Martin.
I feel so sorry for you, baby.
You've probably been kicked all your life.
It's probably the only thing
you really understand.
If that's the only way
to get rid of all that anger...
then you better kick me.
I'm big enough. And I won't kick back.
Go on.
Get it out of your system. Kick me.
I will, you know.
I know you will.
But I won't love you any less.
Go on, kick me, Martin.
STUDENTS: I promise that it shall be used,
not thrown away.
Today is not known.
Yesterday is already a dream.
Today is before me.
There is nothing that I cannot do.
I will never let others tell me...
what I cannot do.
We can do the impossible.
We will change tomorrow
by making today different.
I am not a local child,
I am a citizen of the world.
Very good, children.
Very good.
Cindy, will you read us
your composition?
Yes, ma'am.
"Dear Lady Macbeth, I would like to know
why you were such a stygian babe.
I am surprised you had any friends,
if you had any."
Our files show that you applied,
but we can't find the application.
- That's just great. - Fill out
another application. In a month or...
It took me three days
to fill out those forms...
at the rate you process them,
my children will be college age.
- If you want the free milk and books...
- I do not want your free books and milk.
I want to survive.
I want my school full of students.
Unfortunately, that means giving a few
skeptical parents an endorsement...
from a system I don't wanna
have anything to do with.
Recognition is a service.
We don't have to give it to you.
I don't need your recognition.
I can get my own.
What is the hardest achievement test
the schools give? California Achievement?
- National Stanford?
- Or the Metropolitan Achievement maybe.
Let's throw in the SRA.
I'll have them all test my children.
You have minority students, Mrs. Collins.
Those examinations
will only hurt your case.
They have a prejudice
by as much as 15 percent.
You analyze statistics.
You play tennis with red tape.
Me, I will have my children tested.
And then I will have
the scores published.
That's one tough broad.
You bet I am, mister.
But let me tell you something:
It's a tough world, and until you start
telling the children that...
until schools
teach the way they used to...
or until a parent tells me he likes
your ways better than he does mine...
this tough broad will keep on teaching.
Even if I have to do it
on the steps of city hall.
Instead of worrying about us...
they ought to clean their own house
for a change.
Look at this.
This morning's newspaper.
"Shakespeare was a famous writer
of the 1890s"?
Student essays.
That reporter did a survey...
on suburban high school children,
what they know about Shakespeare.
"The Global..." Global.
"The Global Theater
is a three-sided octagon."
I'll write him a letter.
Macaroni and cheese? Not again.
Patty, you should thank the Lord we have
the with and what to buy anything at all.
Which reminds me, the Visa bill came.
Patty, go get your brother. And shake it.
Your daddy has to get back to work.
You still didn't answer my question
about the application.
I told them what to do
with their application.
That's when I said
I'd have our children tested.
- Cindy.
- Yes, ma'am.
- We have no napkins here.
- Yes, ma'am.
- Well, then what?
- Then I left.
- That's all?
- All?
Dealing with those bureaucrats.
Patty, put on your glasses.
Don't tell me
that you've lost them again.
Did you?
MARVA: Children, what do we have to do
to make you realize what things cost?
And you mumbling and grumbling
about macaroni.
Well, you've just lost 10 steak dinners,
Cindy, sit down.
Children, for the 100th time, your daddy
and I cannot finance your carelessness.
I know a way we can make up for it.
I can stop going to St. Joseph.
No, you will not.
Now we all have a job to do
in this house.
Mine is to find the money.
Yours is to get an education. Understood?
May I be excused? I'm not very hungry.
You seen my soldering iron?
We were using it in Patty's room.
The fins kept coming off
of his spaceship.
His spaceship is plastic.
His spaceship was plastic.
Can't tell that boy anything.
So why don't you tell me
why you wanna leave school.
Some of the kids coming down on me,
that's all.
Coming down on you, huh?
You starting to feel black?
I always feel black.
Come on, you know what I mean.
No, at a school like that
it isn't cool to be prejudiced.
So, what's the problem?
They're just picking on me.
You can walk around that, can't you?
It's not so easy.
Getting one of them.
Well, I don't think leaving school
is the answer.
I don't want you to be one
that jumps up and run...
when things don't work, you know.
If I don't run, I gotta fight.
And I know how you and Mom
are about fighting.
But, you know, sometimes...
you have to make decisions
that don't please everybody.
Not even Mom and Dad.
You know what I mean?
What am I supposed to do?
If it's a matter of your self-respect,
I guess you have to stand up for yourself.
I just don't want you out there
fighting for the wrong reasons.
You don't fight because you're angry
or you don't like somebody.
I mean, if you're...
If you gotta fight...
if you're gonna fight...
just make sure you're fighting
for something important.
Is my self-respect important enough?
To me it is.
Think there's any supper left?
I think I'm hungry.
How about a kiss?
Come on. I know where they keep
the leftovers.
- No.
- Clarissa, baby, stop it.
- Stop it. Do it for Mommy.
- No.
- Do you wanna make Mommy happy?
- No.
Like I told you, Mrs. Collins,
you have to be gentle with her.
But she'll mind, you'll see.
- You'll mind, won't you, honey?
- No.
You'll stay here with Mrs. Collins today.
And tonight we'll have
hamburgers and shakes.
- Okay?
- No.
You don't bargain with a child,
Mrs. Lester.
- No.
- She only has an IQ of 75.
- She's just a little girl.
- Do you want her in this school?
- Yes, but I don't...
- No.
Then you'll have to give me control.
That's the only way I'll operate.
Just trust me.
- Listen to me.
I said listen to me.
Now, you can cry all you want.
But in the end,
you'll still have to mind me.
Clarissa, listen.
So why don't you save those tears
and me some grief...
and just behave right off, okay?
Because you're gonna be fine, baby.
Now, what can I do for you?
I'm Officer Mardesich
from the Fire Department.
- I've been trying to catch up with you.
- You could have called, we're in the book.
Field visits are better,
even if it does take six of them.
- That way when I'm being avoided...
- Say no more.
Just one question.
Are you or are you not operating
a school in this building?
Good morning, Mrs. Collins.
I brought the chalk you said we needed.
MARTIN: Good morning, Mrs. Collins.
- Thank you, Roxanne.
Good morning, children. Good morning.
What if I told you we're a big family
that likes to write on walls?
- You think you'll go away?
- No.
I hate you.
Well, that's too bad, Clarissa.
Because I love you.
You and I shouldn't be fighting
each other.
The sooner the anger goes,
the more room there is for love.
The more room there is for knowledge,
and then the real you.
Maybe I just have to keep polishing
and polishing and polishing...
until the real Clarissa
comes shining through. Hmm?
Children, I have something to tell you.
MARVA: You're gonna have to take
some tests. Don't worry about it.
They're for some people who wonder
whether or not...
you're learning anything here.
I told those people they didn't have
a test hard enough nor big enough...
to show what you children
have learned here, right?
STUDENTS: Right, Mrs. Collins.
MARVA: All right.
Okay, how about some themes?
Oh, me, me.
- Eddie?
- Shall I stand?
"Duty, honor and country.
When I was reading about Socrates' death,
I really liked this quote.
'I am a citizen, not of Athens
or of Greece, but of the world.'
So here is my quote: I'm not
a Chicago child or a child of this school.
I am a universal child of the world.
And my duty is to pass on my knowledge
to others just as Socrates taught Plato.
And Plato taught Aristotle.
And he taught Al the Great."
Trs bien. Trs bien.
That's French for "very good."
Very good, Eddie.
If my son had a teacher like you.
You know, he's a straight A student...
and he can't do half what I just saw.
I like your style, Mrs. Collins.
You like it well enough
to forget this inspection business?
Ah, I wish I could. You see,
what you're doing up there is terrific.
Only you shouldn't be doing it
up in that room.
That room is all we have.
All the children have.
This neighborhood doesn't
even have a truant officer.
Seems to me if someone's
trying to educate...
Classrooms need ceiling
sprinklers, fire exits.
Here's a list of the changes
that have to be made.
But I'll tell you what.
I won't file my report
for a while.
At least that way you
have a little time.
Thank you.
I really appreciate that.
- Hi, peach.
- Hi, Mrs. Collins.
Is your mama here?
Honey, go into your room.
Leave me and Mrs.
Collins alone for a while.
I got your letter.
Wanted to talk about it?
- Mind if I sit down?
- Suit yourself.
Thank you.
I guess you wanna know why Eddie
won't be coming into your school no more.
Well, if there's a problem,
let's work it out.
Eddie really likes you.
And I know that you've done wonders
with him. And I'm real thankful.
But, well, I just think he needs to try
a good public school.
Get a new experience. And he did
real good when he was there before.
But, Mrs. Banbower, I was his teacher.
Is it the money?
It's not. It's like I said, I think
he needs a change. That's all.
Does it have anything to do with me?
- And you're sure it's not the money?
- Ain't that what I said?
Mrs. Banbower, please.
I think you're making a big mistake.
Another school can't give Eddie
the care I will.
Nor the time, nor the attention.
Don't take him away from me.
You just keep right on pushing,
don't you?
"Don't take him from me," she says.
Well, I've got a word for you.
That child in there ain't yours.
He's mine.
And I don't want you
taking him away from me.
I'm not.
It's either you or that school.
That's all he talks about.
That's all he thinks about.
It's not normal.
Since you felt this way,
why didn't you say something earlier?
The way I see it is,
it's not those kids you care about.
- Just that stuff that you're
teaching them. - That's not true.
Are you sure? You pump
those little minds real speedy like.
Do you care how fast you go?
Ever stop and think that you
might be going just too fast?
That child in there, he don't wanna play
no more. He don't wanna watch TV.
All he wants to do is read.
Read and study.
For them other parents,
that might be fine.
But me, Miss Collins, I don't care
if he can't speak no fancy languages.
I don't care if he knows Shakespeare.
All I want my boy to do
is learn how to read and write...
and be happy and get along with people.
- But I want the same thing.
But you...
I don't know what you're trying to prove.
And the way you push.
It's like you're experimenting
or something.
Well, I've got a word for you.
My child ain't no lab rat.
Tsk. So how'd it go?
Mrs. Banbower's taking Eddie
out of school.
She says she doesn't like the way I teach.
I'm experimenting with her child.
Maybe she's right.
Oh, sugar.
You're making a little too much
out of this.
- Clarence.
- Yeah, baby?
If Mrs. Banbower is right...
I wonder how many other mothers
feel that way.
I wonder if I am pushing
the children too hard.
Maybe I want too much for them.
Come on.
I don't know. I don't know.
Hey, do you realize in the 16 years
we've been married...
I've never seen you in a classroom?
But it doesn't matter.
I still know you're the best there is.
How, Clarence?
How do you know?
Do you remember our first date?
What happened just before we went
into the restaurant?
There was this little child who was
trying to strike a match, a little boy.
And you went over to talk to him.
It was like the two of you stepped into
a world where grownups don't even exist.
I remember you told him
about the Great Chicago Fire.
"Seventeen thousand buildings burned
to the ground," you said.
The way you talked,
I could smell the smoke myself.
Then you told him about
Mrs. O'Leary's cow.
"Cow didn't put the lantern
in the way, peach.
It wasn't the cow's fault."
Boy, that child's eyes
were as big as melons.
And he just handed you the matches.
You know, you might have saved Chicago
from another major fire. Hmm?
The point is, sugar...
when I saw you with that child...
I knew.
Anybody would know.
And I said to myself right then and there,
I'm going to get that woman.
I am going to eat her up.
Well, I tell you...
it's the picnic that I remember.
What picnic?
The one where I borrowed four children.
- That picnic.
- Yes.
I was pretty stuck on you by then.
But I didn't know whether you liked
children or not, so I just borrowed a few.
- I take it I passed your little test.
- You surely did.
Oh, my, as a matter of fact...
you had me a little worried there
for a minute.
- Mm.
- Mm-hm.
You paid more attention to those children
than you did to me.
I was probably just trying
to make you nervous or jealous, honey.
Well, you did pretty well.
- Believe me, you did all right.
- Ha-ha-ha.
Say, listen.
I still got a couple
of those free backrubs left.
How about you and me sharing one?
MARVA: Finish.
STUDENT: All right.
Good for you.
Now, I know you can make
a better V than that, Patty, come on.
Rose, you are way ahead of everybody
on this lesson.
Good for you. Very good.
Roxanne, pretty little girls don't walk
around with nail polish chipped like that.
I don't wanna see you
like that tomorrow.
Two plus, what?
Now, isn't that a smart angel?
See, I knew you could do it.
This is just the question those
exam people are going to give you.
What do you do first?
Figure out the commission.
Speak up, cupcake, and look at me.
And don't sit all hunched over, baby.
Sit up straight.
And speak up you believe
what you're saying.
Children, it's like going
into the First National Bank and saying:
"Please, mister...
may I borrow a million dollars?"
You'll never get a million dollars
like that, will you?
Say it again, baby.
Clarissa, take your finger out of your
mouth. I wanna see that pretty mouth.
Say it again, Tina.
And say it like the good Lord
commissioned you to talk for him.
Figure out the commission.
See, that even sounds better.
Doesn't that sound better, children?
Take a bow, Tina.
I forgot. This one came today.
How's it going?
Oh, we'll find a way, honey.
Soon, school will be out.
And I'll find another job.
You're talking about
doing temporary measures.
And what we're dealing with here
is a major flood.
We just gotta get back to reality.
The reality is that Westside Prep School
is doing what we built it to do, Clarence.
It's teaching.
- Listen, by this time next year, we'Il...
- Marva, there's not gonna be a next year.
- Are you saying we should quit?
- I'm...
Clarence, we've come so far.
Honey, it's going to work.
Please believe me.
I don't know how I know...
but it will work, Clarence.
Sugar, I believe in what you're doing.
I mean, you know that.
But we just can't afford it.
Look at this.
This bill has to be paid in 10 days.
Four hundred dollars.
We haven't got 400 cents.
It's not just the school anymore.
We're gonna lose the car, the house.
Everything, sugar.
MARTIN: You just should have told me.
You should have told me.
That's the fuel bill.
Four hundred dollars.
Mr. Collins and I have a whole bundle
of those bills downstairs.
books, keeping my family fed and clothed
while we get this school off the ground.
That one's due next week,
and I don't know how we're gonna pay it.
But as sure as there's a God in heaven...
as sure as the sun's gonna shine,
so help me...
we'll find a way.
I want $400 worth of learning
out of you today.
- Who's gonna recite their poem for me?
ALL: Me.
"Keep A-Goin'," by Frank L. Stanton.
If you strike a thorn or rose,
Keep a-goin'.
If it hails or if it snows,
Keep a-goin'.
'Taint no use to sit an' whine
When the fish ain't on your line.
Bait your hook an' keep a-tryin'.
Keep a-goin'.
When the weather kills your crop,
Keep a-goin'.
Though 'tis work to reach the top,
Keep a-goin'.
S'pose you're out o' ev'ry dime,
Gettin' broke ain't any crime;
Tell the world you're feelin' fine.
Keep a-goin'.
"If," by Rudyard Kipling.
If you can keep your head
when all about you.
Are losing theirs
and blaming it on you.
If you can trust yourself
when all men doubt you.
But make allowance
for their doubting too.
If you can dream
and not make dreams your master.
If you can think
and not make thoughts your aim.
If you can meet
with Triumph and Disaster.
And treat those two impostors
just the same.
If you can force your heart
and nerve and sinew.
To serve your turn
long after they are gone.
And so hold on
when there's nothing in you.
Except the will that says to them,
"Hold on."
If you can fill the unforgiving minute.
With 60 seconds' worth of distance run.
Yours is the Earth
and everything that's in it.
And which is more,
you'll be a man, my son.
MARVA: And how would you like to be
remembered, Rose?
ROSE: I want to be the first black woman
on Mars.
First black woman on Mars.
And you, Steven, what would you like
the history books to say about you?
That I was a champion jockey and I took
all my winnings and built stables...
so that the people around
can have horses.
Very good.
Roxanne, could you bring me that book
on Socrates for me?
Mrs. Collins, there's a man in the hall.
If you're a bill collector...
you'll get it when I get it.
If you're from the county or the state,
take me to court.
I'm Zay Smith from the Sun-Times.
You wrote me a while back,
sent me some student papers.
I'm so sorry.
How do you do?
- Lady, those were some papers.
- Thank you.
It's taken me longer
than I would have liked...
but I wanted to find out
what it was all about.
Just school, Mr. Smith.
Plain and simple.
Back to your seats, children.
Martin, fun and games won't save your butt
when you're flying over the China Seas.
Children, settle down, children.
Settle down. We have a guest.
Mr. Zay Smith from the Sun-Times.
He heard how smart you children are
and he's here to see for himself.
Look around for a while.
Have a seat if you like.
So where were we? Ah. Socrates.
Socrates said
he was a citizen of the world.
Rose said today, that she would like to be
the first woman on Mars.
That would make her
citizen of the universe. Sehr gut.
MARVA: What does that mean?
ALL: Very good.
MARVA: In what?
ALL: German.
Brian, pay attention. You won't know
where that man is 10 years from now.
His name won't be on your paycheck.
He was strong.
He had to do all these things.
He had to kill the lion
and clean the "O-jean" stables...
Augean stables and do 12 things
because Hera said so.
Oh, what a beautiful story, Clarissa.
And you read that book
all by yourself, peach?
Oh, I am so proud of you.
I knew you could do it. Do you know
the next time, what I want you to do...
I want you to read Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Now, that's a bigger book,
but do you know how we read big books?
The same way we eat an elephant,
One bite at a time.
Oh, I'm so proud of you.
- All right, everybody out.
Come on, out, and let this tired
lady get off of her feet.
Brenda, that was an excellent report
you gave today.
Truman, I want you to bring in
your poem tomorrow.
Goodbye, baby. Come on. Bye.
Pick up all the pencils and the books
off the floor, children.
May Cindy and I have some cookies,
- May I go with them?
- All right. You can stay.
- Come on.
- All right, baby.
MARVA: Come on. Bye-bye, baby.
GIRL: Bye.
No more chewing gum in your mouth.
I don't wanna see it moving like a cow.
That was an excellent book report today.
They actually don't want to leave.
What's the secret?
Love, hard work,
and a very strong pair of legs.
There is more to it than that.
There must be.
Why won't people just accept the fact
that good old-fashioned teaching works?
I mean, it works with poor kids,
rich kids, black, white, purple.
Anything. It doesn't matter.
Well, is this some sort of program?
Do you get federal money?
Come here a moment, peach.
- Give a man a fish and what?
- He'll eat for a day.
- Teach him to fish and...?
- He'll eat forever.
- Who said that?
- Marcus Aurelius.
You are just getting so smart.
I'm gonna have to make you a teacher.
That's why I don't accept federal funds.
They've been pouring federal funds
into this neighborhood for years.
It hasn't changed.
In my estimation,
federal funds are not the solution.
It's part of the disease.
- And you're the antidote?
- No, no. Not me.
But I'll tell you this,
everything works when teaching works.
It's as easy as that, and as hard.
Your students, they're terrific.
You must have handpicked them.
Most of the children,
I never met until their first day.
And of the 15, 13 were failing
or were in learning disability classes.
But why am I trying to convince you?
They're going to have to take a test,
then maybe you can see for yourself.
MAN: You will use this answer sheet
for all the tests you are about to take.
You must use a soft lead pencil
to mark your answer sheet.
Do not use a ballpoint pen
or a hard pencil.
If the point on your pencil breaks...
just raise your hand
and I'll give you a new one.
Now, at the top of the left-hand side
of the answer sheet...
- Come on, peach.
- I don't wanna take that test.
- Why not?
- I'm scared I'll fail.
Oh, honey, you're not going to fail.
I don't wanna pass either.
And if I pass, I'll have to leave you.
I'm not going to let you go
until you're ready.
But when you're ready, you'll have to go.
That's what this school is all about.
Learning to stand on your own.
But I'm scared.
But everybody gets scared.
I get scared too.
Do you know what I do
when I get scared?
I think of something
that Victor Hugo said.
He said, "Have courage
for the great sorrows of life...
and patience for the small ones.
And when you have finished
your daily task...
go to sleep and have peace
knowing that God is awake."
I sure hope he was right.
Oh, he's right, honey. He's right.
MAN: Use a soft lead pencil
to mark your answer sheet.
You will have 20 minutes
to complete this section of the exam.
MARVA: We've worked hard studying
for these tests.
They're gonna show a lot of people
how smart you really are.
But that's not what's really important.
What's really important is that...
- Who's the important child in the world?
- And what is the most important time?
Now. Go to it.
Oh, miss, I am sorry. I really don't
have time for telephone games.
Cindy, get the paper. Quick.
Yes. Well, I'm sorry. Thank you.
Yes. Sure. What page?
Sixty-two. Thank you. Thank you.
Eric, Patty, come quick.
Our school is in the newspaper.
Zay Smith from the newspaper
called and said...
they had so many telephone calls,
they wanna do a follow-up story.
Boy, I'd like to see those bureaucrats
try to give us a hard time now.
And the phones
were ringing off the hook, Dad.
People wanna send money.
Oh, honey, just a few.
Most of them wanna know
about enrollment.
- Uh-huh.
- And you know what else?
The woman whose having Mom
do the teaching seminar called up.
She wants to give me
five hundred dollars.
And she said if all goes well,
she'll help me book others.
Isn't that terrific?
You know it's gonna take a lot
of those seminars to empty out that dish.
Oh, children,
tell your daddy to be quiet.
Shylock loaned Antonio
how much money?
MARVA: Tina.
Three thousand ducats.
Three thousand ducats.
- And your book says that that's...
- Steven?
- Twenty-five thousand dollars.
But the price of gold has gone up.
Did anyone check the price
of gold last night? Brenda.
A hundred and thirty-one dollars
and seven cents an ounce.
One hundred and thirty-one dollars
and seven cents per ounce.
Brenda, will you go to the board
and figure out how many dollars...
that would be today?
And the theme, children,
what is the theme?
Reverse prejudice.
Reverse prejudice? Explain that, Patty.
- See, Shylock was prejudiced...
- Never begin a sentence with "see."
- Go ahead.
- Yes, ma'am. Shylock was prejudiced...
against people
who were prejudiced against him.
- Do any of you want to be like Shylock?
ALL: No.
I heard about this dude.
Once during a riot, he tried
to burn down this slum king's house.
Only the wind changed...
and the dude's house
got burned down instead.
I think the same thing happened
to Shylock.
Excellent analogy.
Excellent, Martin. Excellent.
Truman, your turn, peach.
I'd like you to go to the board
and spell the word analogy.
That's coming along very nicely, Brenda.
Very good.
Rose, please, will you show us
where Venice is on the map?
Class, what is that in Italian?
And that's exactly what your spelling is.
That is perfect.
Very, very good. Very good.
Rose, Venice.
There it is. It shows that you did
your geography homework last night.
- Yes.
- Thank you. Very good.
Very good.
All right, Brenda.
Brenda has a total for us.
Brenda, what is the total?
How many dollars
would 3000 ducats equal today?
Forty-three thousand, two hundred
and fifty-three dollars and ten cents.
Laudo. Ad infinitum.
STUDENTS: Without ending.
- Without ending. Let's give Brenda a hand.
Okay. Dollars and ducats.
MARVA: The Merchant of Venice
is a story affected by trade.
Merchandising and the merchant.
That's the one who makes it all happen.
For instance, Famous Amos.
- He's a merchant of what?
STUDENTS: Cookies.
And my daddy was a merchant
of Alabama.
And believe me when I tell you, we never
went hungry for anything in our house.
I have $30.
If the price of gold has gone up,
I ought to get me some.
Then maybe I'll be rich.
That is called speculating, Brenda,
but the price of gold can also go down.
So if you're going to speculate,
be sure it's money you can afford to lose.
Where do you go to speculate,
Mrs. Collins?
Well, here in Chicago,
you go to the Mercantile Exchange.
Now, after we finished our research
and we know what we're looking for...
we'll pay them a visit.
Children, like ladies and gentlemen,
we're visiting.
CLARISSA: Why do they have to have
so many people?
MARVA: Because they're all interested
in buying and selling.
That's what it's about,
buying and selling.
Remember merchandise
and Merchant of Venice?
- That's what it's about.
- They have money down there?
- They don't keep money here.
- What do the people in yellow do?
MARVA: The ones in yellow are runners.
They take orders from outside brokers.
What do the people in the red do?
The red are brokers that work
at the exchange.
- What do people in green do?
- They're out-trade clerks.
They settle the fights.
The fight that go on between brokers.
MARTIN: Like a referee?
MARVA: That's right. Yes.
Come on.
You know what these are? Test scores.
I have never been so happy
or proud in my life.
I have written each one of you a letter
because you all tested like superstars.
- Okay, Patty.
PATTY: Yeah.
- Rose, Martin.
- Whoo-hoo!
- Uh... Clarissa.
- Cindy, Truman.
TRUMAN: All right.
Bless you, angel.
Roxanne, Brenda.
No, it's gotta be delivered
the day after tomorrow.
Thirty-five dollars?
I could get it for half that at Dunbars.
What if we pick it up?
Hold on.
Daddy, next Wednesday, can you...?
You bet we can, princess.
You bet we can.
That's not a bad price
but I'll have to call you back.
This is gonna be some party.
Jocose. J-O-C-O-S-E.
It is an adjective.
It is a word which comes from Latin.
Meaning a jest or a joke.
It can also mean humorous or witty.
- Mrs. Collins, how do you spell flippant?
MARVA: Flippant?
One, two.
What? What's going on here?
Surprise. It's a party.
- We're having a party for you.
MARVA: Oh, whatever for?
We wanna thank you for caring
and to celebrate our test scores.
Those test scores...
I didn't take the tests.
GIRL: You made it.
MARTIN: We bought it with our money.
These kids are nuts about you,
Mrs. Collins.
BOY 1: Give me some cake.
BOY 2: Give me some cake.
Please, may I have some cake?
Please, may I have some cake?
You know, when Tina first came here, I...
Well, I wasn't all for it.
Yes, yes, I know.
Children, this cake
is absolutely delicious.
But I don't like you spending money
on things like this.
Oh, don't worry.
Tina got the best price for it.
You'd have seen her.
The shy little thing on the phone...
negotiating like she's buying
a big corporation or something.
Well, now, you're looking at a 10-year-old
that's reading at an 11th grade level.
Yes, sir.
Nobody pulls the wool over my baby's eyes.
Not anymore.
Oh, but you know kids.
The bakery where we got the cake?
I had to drive 20-some-odd miles
to get there.
You know what?
I would have drove 20,000.
Mrs. Collins, this is from me
with help from Charles Dickens.
Our distinguished guest,
the ornament of our room.
May you never leave us
but to better yourself...
and may your success among us...
be such as to render
bettering yourself impossible.
So may thy face be by us
when we close our lives indeed...
so may we,
when realities are melting from us...
like the shadows
which we now dismiss...
still find thee near us,
pointing upwards.
Thank you.
heh, we've got to get back to work.
We have promises to...
Keep, and miles to go before we sleep.
- Miles to go before we sleep.
STUDENTS: Before we sleep.
Very good. Very good.
MARVA: The younger children will work
on their math.
And the older children
on Einstein's theory of relativity.
I don't know too much about it myself,
so we'll have to learn it together.
are you a genius?
- No.
- Is you daddy a millionaire?
- No.
Well, open a book.
All right, we're gonna have
a spelling bee.
Who's gonna spell irony for me?
Irony. Yes.
At the end of the first year...
every one of Marva's learning-disabled
students tested...
at least five grade-levels higher.
Very good.
Tina Boland is a straight-A student
at a local high school.
When she enters college,
she plans to pursue a career in teaching.
Eddie Banbower's mother
became disillusioned...
with the public school
her son attended.
When she brought him back
to Westside Preparatory...
the one-room school was unfortunately
too overcrowded to accept him.
By the middle of her 2nd year...
Clarissa Lester,
previously considered to be retarded...
had won an Illinois State
Young Writers Conference Award.
Her mother is now a teacher
at Westside Preparatory.
Martin Luther Jones was recently offered
a full scholarship to college.
He's still not sure what he wants to be,
a pilot or a judge.
The success of Marva Collins
drew nationwide attention.
When President Reagan invited her
to serve as Secretary of Education...
she respectfully declined,
choosing to stay a teacher.
In the fall of 1981,
Westside Preparatory School...
with an enrollment of 200 students
and a waiting list of 800...
moved into its own building.
The continuation of Marva Collins' dream
would be a high school.
And ultimately a college
in this neighborhood...
to which she is so dedicated.