The Battle for Room 314 by Ed Boland, published in 2016, tells the compelling story of his year teaching in an inner-city high school in New York City. As a young man, Boland worked for Project Advance, a non-profit working to place low-income, inner-city students in elite boarding schools and eventually Ivy League universities; however, he begins to feel unfulfilled and wants to widen his impact to help more deserving students. Therefore, he goes back to school to get his teaching degree and ends up getting hired in an inner-city high school –this story follows the trials and tribulations of his teaching career. At the end of the story, Boland is faced with a difficult choice to continue in the classroom or return to his old job.
This book was absolutely fantastic. As a Johnson County resident, I recognize that we are lucky to have sufficient funding for our schools and that our community places a great value on education. This story draws back the curtain on a different community that many of us haven’t ever seen, and it reads like fiction –I often had to remind myself that these stories actually happened. The compelling stories that Boland narrates about his students, especially with Yvette and Byron, gave me a unique perspective on these drastic differences. The vastly different life of these kids fascinated me and also shocked me at times, and I enjoyed seeing this story from the perspective of a teacher, who was simultaneously breaking down because of and humbled by his students throughout the story. It spoke a lot to the sacrifices that teachers make for their students, which are spotlighted even more in this crazy school year.
I think that older high school students and above would enjoy this book –it has quite a bit of language and sexual references along with violence. For anyone fascinated by our education system or what a teacher’s role looks like inside and outside of the classroom, this is the book for you. Overall, this was a fantastic story and an interesting first-hand perspective on our education system that I think almost anyone would enjoy reading.