Lean on Me (1989)
Ms. Levias: [as Mr. Clark is walking down a hallway, she is running up to him] Mr. Clark!
Joe Clark: Yes, Ms. Levias?
Ms. Levias: May I talk to you for a minute please?
Joe Clark: What is it?
Ms. Levias: I want you to transfer me.
Joe Clark: To where?
Ms. Levias: Out of here!
Joe Clark: You know, this doesn't surprise me one bit, Ms. Levias. I have sensed resistance in you since our very first meeting.
Ms. Levias: You're an egomaniacal windbag
Joe Clark: Who are you talking to?
Ms. Levias: I'm talking to you! You like to whip people who can't fight back. I thought I could take it because I had a father in the same kind of pain that makes you just a bastard, but I was wrong. Life is much too short. I will NOT endure you any longer!
Joe Clark: You will not endure me?
Ms. Levias: The reason I haven't walked out and half the staff along with me is because those children need us here! You're so busy talking discipline that you fail to educate!
Joe Clark: Is THAT SO?
Ms. Levias: YES!
Joe Clark: What in the hell do you think I've been doing here all this time?
Ms. Levias: So you cleaned it up. That was the easy part.
Joe Clark: That's the easy part?
Ms. Levias: Those children want to be helped! They've worked their hearts out for you, done everything you asked them to, believed what we told them. But I feel sorry for them! They're not ready to take that test!
Joe Clark: What the hell are you talking about? I have done everything, everything I...
Ms. Levias: I, I, I! It is always I! There are 300 teachers on the faculty here, you do NOT do it alone!
Joe Clark: [walking away] I don't have to stand here and listen to these accusations!
Ms. Levias: You will listen! YOU WILL STAND THERE AND YOU WILL LISTEN!
Joe Clark: [stops and faces her] Why, Mrs. Levias? Huh? Go ahead and talk!
Ms. Levias: For the past seven months, you've been flapping your mouth and you haven't heard a thing. You haven't even seen what's painfully obvious!
Joe Clark: [in a conference room at city hall] I don't have time for Mrs. Elliott's problem!
Dr. Frank Napier: You better make time!
Joe Clark: We are being crucified by a process that is turning blacks into a permanent underclass here, Frank. A permanent underclass!
[Dr. Napier turns away from him and puts some papers in his briefcase]
Joe Clark: See! See, nobody wants to talk about that! NOBODY! Mrs. Elliott's missionary zeal about Mozart has nothing to do with our problem. Nothing! What good is Mozart going to do a bunch of children who can't go out and get a job?
Dr. Frank Napier: Joe, your personal battles are gonna cost us the war. Worry about the test scores.
Joe Clark: WHAT THE HELL YOU THINK I'M WORRIED ABOUT?
Dr. Frank Napier: END OF DISCUSSION! Debate is over! You will write a formal apology!
Joe Clark: I will what?
Dr. Frank Napier: A formal apology for your treatment of Mrs. Elliott and Darnell and for your vicious and thoughtless insults to the women of this community! You will kow tow. You will step and fetch!
Joe Clark: If you think that I'm gonna...
Dr. Frank Napier: [slams briefcase shut] Get used to it! It's the WAY OF THE WORLD! If you're so hot on discipline, then goddammit
[pounds on briefcase]
Dr. Frank Napier: start by accepting mine because contrary to popular opinion, I'M THE HEAD NIGGER IN CHARGE!
[He grabs his briefcase and heads for the door]
Dr. Frank Napier: Come on, let's get something to eat.
Joe Clark: [following him to the door and walking out with him] Boy... you really think you bad, don't you?
Joe Clark: I'll tell you what I do see here...
Ms. Levias: No! I'm talking now! Let me finish! Everybody here may not like you as a person, but we all applaud your efforts. But what you don't understand is the same people that support you are the ones you're beating up! You don't even take the time to say 'Thank you. Job well done'. Nothing! You just step on their necks! Constantly abuse them!
Joe Clark: Ms. Levias...
Ms. Levias: Criticize them!
Joe Clark: What do you want from me?
Joe Clark: What the HELL do you want?
Ms. Levias: I want you to get this straight! Most of the teachers here are here because they care! About those children out there! This school, this fight, they are in it with you! They take it home at night, the same as you! They are a part of those children's lives! You are thoughtless and cruel, and it hurts! And none of them deserve it! They are sick of it, and so am I!
Joe Clark: [Clark's roof-top pep-talk to Thomas Sams] Now, let me tell you something: The trouble with being a teenager is you don't know nothing. The problem with teenagers is you THINK you're smarter than people who've already been down the road you're traveling. You know what I'm trying to say, boy?
[Sams hangs his head; Joe picks it up for him]
Joe Clark: DO YOU?
Thomas Sams: Yes, sir.
Joe Clark: Did you tell your father I threw you out of school?
[Sams hangs his head again]
Joe Clark: LOOK AT ME, DAMN IT!
Thomas Sams: No, sir.
Joe Clark: Why not? No guts, huh? Afraid of what he's gonna say to you, aren't ya?
Thomas Sams: My father doesn't live with us anymore, sir.
Joe Clark: Oh, is that what you're doing now? Goin' around, feeling sorry for yourself, boy? Huh? Go on, get outta here! You're wasting my time!
Thomas Sams: [crying] Please, let me back, sir! I have to get back to school. I can't go home to tell my momma I got kicked out of school.
Joe Clark: Now why should I let you back into my school, Sams?
Thomas Sams: 'Cause I'm gonna do better, sir.
Joe Clark: How?
Thomas Sams: By doing my work.
Joe Clark: What else?
Thomas Sams: And staying out of trouble.
Joe Clark: What have you been thinking about all this time? Why should I believe you now?
Thomas Sams: 'Cause I changed my ways.
Joe Clark: I don't believe you, Sams. I don't think you've changed a thing. Go on, jump!
Thomas Sams: [sobbing] No, I don't wanna jump!
Joe Clark: Yes, you do! You smoke crack, don't ya?
[Sams hangs his head; Clark lifts it right back up]
Joe Clark: You smoke crack, don't ya?
[Sams hangs his head again, sobbing]
Joe Clark: LOOK AT ME, BOY! DON'T YOU SMOKE CRACK?
Thomas Sams: Ye-ye... yes, sir.
Joe Clark: You know what that does to ya? Huh?
Thomas Sams: No, sir.
Joe Clark: [tapping Sams's head] It kills your braincells, son! It kills your braincells! Now, when you're destroying your braincells, you're doing the same thing as killing yourself; you're just doing it slower! Now, I say if you wanna kill yourself, don't fuck around with it! Go on and do it EXPEDITIOUSLY! Now go on and jump! JUMP!
Thomas Sams: [crying] No! I don't wanna kill myself, sir!
Joe Clark: [calming down] You're quite sure about this, are ya?
Thomas Sams: Yes, sir.
Joe Clark: [pause] Alright, Sams, I'll tell ya what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna go back on my own word, just this once, and let you back into my school... 'cause you're still a baby and you don't know shit.
[points his finger at Sams]
Joe Clark: But you understand this, boy. You're not gonna get a moment's rest! I'm gonna be on your case every minute! You mess up just once and you're outta here! Now you understand me?
Joe Clark: Do you understand me?
Thomas Sams: Yes, sir.
Joe Clark: [calmly] Alright, go on back downstairs.
[as Sams departs from the roof, Joe turns away. His expression becomes grateful, as if to say, "At least I got ONE of those 300 back; I was hoping more of them would see the light."]
Joe Clark: [at an assembly] I want all of you to take a good look at these people on the risers behind me. These people have been here roughly five years, and done absolutely nothing. These people are drug dealers and drug users. They have taken up space. They have disrupted this school. They have harassed your teachers. And they have intimidated you. Well, times are about to change. You will not be bothered in Joe Clark's school. These people are incorrigible. And since none of them could graduate anyway...
[to those onstage]
Joe Clark: ... you are all expurgated. You are dismissed! You are out of here, forever. I wish you well! Mr. Wright...
[after Security Dean William Wright and Eastside's new guards eject all the "problem" kids from school, Clark's audience in the decaying auditorium grows silent]
Joe Clark: Next time, it may be you. If you do no better than they did, next time it WILL be you. They said this school was dead, like the cemetery it's built on. But we call our Eastside teams "Ghosts", don't we? And what are ghosts? Ghosts are spirits that rise from the dead. I want you to be my ghosts. You are going to lead our resurrection, by defying the expectation that all of us are doomed to failure. My motto is simple: If you do not succeed in life, I don't want you to blame your parents. I don't want you to blame the White Man. I want you to blame yourselves. The responsibility is yours! In two weeks we have a practice exam, and on April 13th we have the Minimum Basic Skills Test itself. That's 110 school days from now. But it's not just about those test scores. If you do not have these basic skills, you will find yourselves locked out. Locked out of that American Dream that you see advertised on TV, and that they tell you is so easy to get. You are here for one reason. One reason only: To learn. To work for what you believe in. The alternative is to waste your time, to fall into the trap of crime and drugs and death. Does everybody understand that? Do all of you understand me? Then welcome to the new Eastside High.
Dr. Frank Napier: Did you see this yet?
[holding up newspaper story about Clark's fight with a former student]
Dr. Frank Napier: You know, a lot of your shit comes down on my head.
Joe Clark: Oh, Frank! Look, this is...
Dr. Frank Napier: No, You let me talk! It's like you're a big bird with radar and I'm tired of getting hit!
Joe Clark: Th... this is my fault?
Dr. Frank Napier: This is nothing! I've got union lawyers threatening me and there's talk of a walk-out!
Joe Clark: Well, let 'em! They're not doing anything down there anyway!
Dr. Frank Napier: It is your job to...
Joe Clark: None of them have a personal stake at that school! Not one!
Dr. Frank Napier: The fire chief was just in here. He said it was illegal to bar those doors. Mrs. Barrett is organizing a parents' group to try and get you removed since you insulted them at that meeting the other night when you suggested they should get off welfare...
Joe Clark: Oh, I didn't mean all of...
Dr. Frank Napier: ...because the fact is quite a few of them need it.
Joe Clark: I wasn't talking to all of them, Frank! Look, you came and recruited me, man, but you disappoint me, brother. You disappoint me!
Dr. Frank Napier: The disappointment here is you!
Joe Clark: Me?
Dr. Frank Napier: Yes!
Joe Clark: You know who I am. You've known me thirty years! You knew what I would do! You know how I operate!
Dr. Frank Napier: Nigger, will you keep quiet! the fact is you're screwing up! You're alienating everybody! Look at you, you have no life! Your wife left you! Hell, I oughta walk out on you myself!
Joe Clark: Well, go ahead! Bail the hell out!
Dr. Frank Napier: But I said I'd back you up!
Joe Clark: That's what you said, man! That's what you said!
Dr. Frank Napier: I would go through the... fire with you, but you are not taking care of business! This shit you're pulling now, you've just gone plain loco! Now you suspend Darnell! What the hell was that?
Joe Clark: Darnell is symptomatic of the disciplinary problems...
Dr. Frank Napier: He is a good, strong, young Black teacher! So he... dumped that desk right on top of your head. Well, right on! Good for him! You will reinstate that man, you hear? And you fire Mrs. Elliott! Why? Because she didn't want to kiss your ass! I wouldn't neither! How about that?
Joe Clark: Mrs. Elliott has an ego problem!
Dr. Frank Napier: Well, you lost the best teacher we ever had! We couldn't get her back now if we wanted to!
Mrs. Elliott: [in the choir room] I would love to chat, Mr. Clark, but I have a concert next week in New York and I would like to be prepared.
Joe Clark: What?
Mrs. Elliott: Prepare. You do know that means? It means capable, ready and up to your job.
Joe Clark: What concert, Mrs. Elliott?
Mrs. Elliott: The one at Lincoln Center. We do one every year.
Joe Clark: Until now. Your concert is cancelled.
Mrs. Elliott: What?
Joe Clark: CANCELLED! You do know what cancelled means, don't you, Mrs. Elliott? Over! Finished! Terminated!
Mrs. Elliott: WHY? These children have worked too hard!
Joe Clark: And for not telling me for one thing!
Mrs. Elliott: I filed a form in your office! Why don't you talk to...
Joe Clark: And for RANK insubordination! You have questioned my judgment, my competence, my intelligence...
Mrs. Elliott: I don't want to get into this. You're the one that always comes around here to bother me! You're a bully, a despicable man and I've got nothing more to say to you!
Joe Clark: Let's just accommodate that, Mrs. Elliott! YOU'RE FIRED!
Mrs. Elliott: You need a psychiatrist!
Joe Clark: GET OUT! RIGHT NOW!
Mrs. Elliott: All right, fine! Fired? YOU WILL HEAR FROM MY LAWYER!
[with a baseball bat in his hand]
Joe Clark: They used to call me Crazy Joe. Well now they can call me Batman!
[after refusing admittance to the Fire Chief]
Joe Clark: [to Ms. Levias] You know what he's saying right now? "Black bastard can't throw me out!" You know where he's saying it? Out in the parking lot.
Joe Clark: Mr. Major, on behalf of myself and on behalf the students of Eastside High, you can tell the State to go to hell!
Leonna Barrett: What happened this morning is an outrage! My boy's no criminal! He and those children belong in school, not back out on the streets! Our kids don't deserve this! Some of those children are smart. They're just discouraged what chances they got out there, what kind of jobs they got waiting for them. What chance do they have now? He insulted the black football coach! The man's gone crazy! He's declared war on his own people!
Mrs. Arthur: May I remind you, Miss Barrett, that Mr. Clark was nice enough to come to this emergency meeting after a very trying day?
Leonna Barrett: That's what he gets paid for!
Mrs. Arthur: I think we owe him a chance to respond.
[the audience claps in agreemeet]
Joe Clark: [getting up and stand before the group] They say one bad apple spoils the bunch.
[shouts of protest]
Joe Clark: But what about 300? Rotten to the core! Now, you're right, Mrs. Barrett. This is a war. It's a war to save 2700 other students, most of whom don't have the basic skills to pass the state exam.
Joe Clark: Now if you want to help us, fine.
[coming over to her]
Joe Clark: Sit down with your kids and make them study at night. Go get your families off welfare.
Leonna Barrett: [getting up in his face] How dare you talk to these people about welfare!
Joe Clark: Give our children some pride! Tell them to get their priorities straight!
[Mrs. Barrett sits down. He walks on down the center of the audience]
Joe Clark: When Dr. Napier came to me offering this job, I saw the lightning flash. I heard the thunder roll! I felt breakers crashing, swamping my soul!
Leonna Barrett: [getting up again] We are NOT in church, Mr. Clark!
Joe Clark: [facing her] I fell down on my knees
[Mrs. Barrett sits down in exasperation]
Joe Clark: and I cried "My God, why has thou forsaken me?" and the Lord said "Joe, you're no damn good. No, I mean this! More than you realize, you're no earthly good at all unless you take this opportunity and do whatever you have to." And he didn't say "Joe, be polite".
[the people clap in agreement]
Joe Clark: Do whatever you have to to transform and transmogrify this school into a special place where the hearts and souls and minds of the young can rise.
[more clapping in agreement]
Joe Clark: Where they can grow tall and blossom out from under the shadows of the past. Where the minds of the young are set free. And I gave my word to God, and that's why I threw those bastards out
[the crowd starts to shout in both agreement and protest]
Joe Clark: And that's all I'm gonna say!
[He walks out as the audience gets loud and boisterous]
[after seeing the dilapidated, crime-infested interior of Eastside High School, Joe Clark, the new elected principal, is introduced to the school board]
Mr. O'Malley: We want to welcome Mr. Clark to Eastside - we've heard so much about you - and to tell you what we've done in anticipation of your arrival. Ms. Levias, your other vice-principal, and I have appointed an executive committee to oversee certain areas where we have noted a need for improvement. Mr. Zirella, for example...
Joe Clark: [cuts him off] You may sit down, Mr. O'Malley.
[Mr. O'Malley takes a seat]
Joe Clark: [addresses the teachers and the board] You think you run this school? If you could, then I wouldn't be here, would I? No one talks in my meetings. No one! You take out your pencils and write. I want the names of every hoodlum, drug dealer, and miscreant who's done nothing but take this place apart on my desk by noon today. Reverend Slappy?
Rev. Slappy: Yes, sir.
Joe Clark: You are now the Chief Custodian, Reverend Slappy. You will scour this building clean. Graffiti goes up, it's off the next day. Is that clear?
Rev. Slappy: Yes, sir. The very next day.
Joe Clark: Detention students can help you. Let them scrub this place for a while. And tear down those cages in the cafeteria. You treat them like animals, that exactly how they'll behave.
Joe Clark: [to the new head of security] This is my new Dean of Security, Mr. William Wright. He will my Avenging Angel, as you teachers reclaim the halls. This is an institution of learning, ladies and gentlemen. If you can't control it, how can you teach? Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm! Mr. Zirella?
Mr. Zirella: [stands up] Yes, sir.
Joe Clark: Mr. Zirella, you are my new head football coach. Mr. Darnell? Stand up, Mr. Darnell.
[Mr. Darnell stands up]
Joe Clark: Mr. Darnell will be your assistant. You know why you're being demoted, Mr. Darnell? Because I'm sick and tired of our football team getting push all over the field. Thank you, sit down!
Joe Clark: I want *precision*. I want *a weight program*. And if you don't like it, Mr. Darnell, you can QUIT! Same goes for the rest of you. You've tried it your way for years, and 60% your students - excluding those with criminal records - 60% of them can't even pass the state's Minimum Basic Skills Test. THAT MEANS THEY CAN BARELY READ! They've given me one school year - less than 12 months - to turn this place around, to get those test scores up, so that the state will not take us over to perform the task which YOU have failed to do: TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN! Forget about the way it used to be. This is not a damn democracy! We are in a state of emergency and my word is law! There's only one boss around in this place. And that's me, the H.N.I.C. Are there any questions?
[the board becomes silent]
Joe Clark: Mr. Wright, with me.
[Both leave the meeting room]
Mr. O'Malley: [to Ms. Levias] The H.N.I.C.?
Ms. Levias: The Head Nigger In Charge.
Mayor Don Bottman: We're in a tough spot here. I have to ask for your help, Joe. It's not for me, it's for those kids out there. They're highly emotional, they're all jacked-up. You have to send them home.
Joe Clark: I don't have to do nothing but stay black and die!
Mayor Don Bottman: Oh for crying out loud.
Joe Clark: [looks at the boys restroom, suspects Sams is hiding something] What do you got in here, Sams?
Thomas Sams: You don't want to go in there Mr. Clark it stinks!
[Clark grabs Sams and they go into the boys restroom]
Joe Clark: [addressing his students in the auditorium] All right, people, here we are. In one hour, you will take an exam administered by the State to test your basic skills... along with the quality of education at Eastside High. Before that, I want to tell you what many people are saying about you, and what they think about your chances. They say that you're inferior! That you are just a bunch of niggers and spics and poor white trash! That education is wasted on you! That you cannot learn! That you're lost, all of you! So I want all the white students to stand up. All of my white students, stand up! Come on, don't be shy. Stand up!
[They all do so]
Joe Clark: These are my white pupils; as you can see, they're the same as everybody else! They've got no other place to go. Otherwise, they'd have abandoned us a long time ago, just like everybody else did! So here they are at Eastside High, with the rest of us. You can sit down.
[the white kids take their seats]
Joe Clark: Are you getting my point, people? Am I getting through to you? Whether we sink or we swim, whether we rise or we fall, WE MEET OUR FATE TOGETHER!
[He indicates Ms. Levias, whom he has just dismissed from Eastside on her request]
Joe Clark: Now, it took the help of a very good friend to make me know and understand that. And I do understand that, and I'm grateful. I'm eternally grateful... And now, I've got a message for all those people out there who've abandoned you and written you off! Can you hear me? Good! You are NOT INFERIOR! Your *grades* may be. Your *school* may have been. But you can turn that around, and make liars out of those bastards, in exactly one hour... by taking that test, and passing it! So, here's what I want you to do: Whenever you find your thoughts wandering - and don't say that's not gonna happen - I want you to KNUCKLE BACK DOWN! Remind yourselves what's at stake, and show what Eastside High is all about!
Dr. Frank Napier: Don, the man has a legitimate problem. How's he supposed to keep drug dealers out of his school if their buddies can just push open the exit doors and let 'em walk on in?
Mr. Rosenberg: He's got a point, sir.
Mayor Don Bottman: Rosenberg, this doesn't concern you.
Joe Clark: [in a conference room at city hall] Don't talk to me about saving those kids. The mayor wants to save his budget. And you wanna save your ass!
Dr. Frank Napier: Well, so what? You want the truth?
Joe Clark: Yeah, Frank. Let's have some truth.
Dr. Frank Napier: The truth is that for all your talking, all your 'Crazy Joe' routine, what have you ever done? Nothing. You're nothing but an insignificant man. It's like you were never born. Your life hasn't made one bit of difference, and neither has mine. Wanna take that to the grave?
Joe Clark: [removing Sams' baseball cap] Hey, son... Put something in your head, not on it!
Mr. Darnell: [in his office] Mr. Clark, just what was that all about?
Joe Clark: I distinctly said, "No one move, during the singing of the school song", Now if you can't understand that, find yourself another place to work.
Mr. Darnell: [yells] I was picking up a piece of paper!
Joe Clark: Then you contradicted me in front of my students.
Mr. Darnell: They're my students, too!
Joe Clark: THEY ARE MY STUDENTS, MR. DARNELL!
Mr. Darnell: Just what are you tryin' to prove? I'm workin my ass off of you, took the demotion and I'm doin' my job! You just getting your rocks off by treating me like trash!
Joe Clark: No sir, that's what you're picking up.
Mr. Darnell: [slamming the folders onto Clark's desk; screaming] Goddamn it! YOU GIVE ME THE GODDDAMN RESPECT YOU WOULD DAMN WELL WANT YOURSELF, OR I WILL KICK YOUR BLACK ASS!
Joe Clark: You are suspended sir, as of RIGHT NOW! GET OUT!
Mr. Darnell: AHHH!
[dumps Clark's desk on it's side]
Thomas Sams: Hey, Mr. Clark, what did they get you for?
Ms. Levias: What's the charge? What's this all about?
Leonna Barrett: It's about someone finally standing up to this man, instead of taking his orders like a maid.
Ms. Levias: How dare you speak about people like that? Who do you think you are?
Joe Clark: [while taken in handcuffs by the fire chief and other police officers] Mrs. Barrett, if you think you can...
Leonna Barrett: Shut up! You're finished!
[holds up the tape recorder]
Leonna Barrett: The school board's going to hear this at 7:00, and we are going to vote your black ass out!
Thomas Sams: Yo, bitch! Vote on THIS!
Joe Clark: Sams, you go to class!
Joe Clark: [at lunch, in the cafeteria, Clark has singled out Sams] ... I want all of you to take a good look at this slovenly, sloppy boy - as an example of how NOT to dress. If you look like THIS in the morning, find some other clothes to wear. Self-respect permeates every aspect of your existence. If you don't have respect for yourself, you're not gonna get it from anyone else.
Maria: The Gospel chorus is for the blacks! Football for the blacks! Basketball, blacks!
Maria: Look at me, I'm short! Can I play basketball? NO! The point is, you're ignoring us, and we're getting really ticked off!
Joe Clark: You know, with a mouth like yours, You oughta study Law.
Joe Clark: Really.
Leonna Barrett: [as the crowd is chanting "FREE MR. CLARK"] Listen to me! People, please! You must all disperse and return to your homes! Your presence here is helping no one! Why don't you use your brains and listen?
Clarence: [stepping up to take the megaphone and turn on the siren] Everybody, come on, listen up! Now let's just settle down, give her a chance to talk. She might actually have something to say. Now everybody just chill, settle down, and let's listen to the old loudmouth wench!
[Everyone laughs and cheers as he hands her back the megaphone]
Leonna Barrett: [as she is talking on the megaphone, Mr. Clark approaches the doorway at the top of the City Hall stairs] You can call me what you want, but the simple fact is as follows: Mr. Clark has broken the laws of the state, and exposed you all to grave danger.
[Everyone boos and protests]
Leonna Barrett: His behavior is irresponsible. Chaining those doors was a criminal act. Why do you think they call him Crazy Joe?
Thomas Sams: Because you all don't understand him!
Maria: He chained those doors to keep out the drug dealers, and to make us all feel safe. You talk about upholding the law, but you're twisting the law. The laws are made to protect the people, and that's what he's doing for us. That's ALL he's doing for us!
[Everyone applauds in agreement]
Reggie: The thing you don't understand is that Mr. Clark believes in us. He's provided an environment...
Kaneesha Carter: [to Reggie] He don't believe in YOU, 'cause you don't take care of your responsibilities!
[everyone points and laughs at him]
Leonna Barrett: Despite what he himself may believe, Mr. Clark is not Eastside High!
Kaneesha Carter: Mr. Clark doesn't CLAIM to be Eastside High! Still, he's been like a father to some of us who grew up without fathers! But you wouldn't know, because you couldn't care less about that!
Leonna Barrett: People, just hear me! The school board is meeting right now. And I promise you, we will give you what Eastside High deserves: a good principal!
Thomas Sams: We don't NEED a good principal! That's why we're here! WE *NEED* MR. CLARK!
Joe Clark: [on bullhorn to teachers] ... You ask, "How do we get the students in on Saturdays for remedial reading?" So I'll tell you how: We'll go to their homes. We'll talk to their folks. If their folks can't read - as some of them indeed cannot - then they can come in, too. The only way we're going to get anything done around here is to get everyone involved! That goes for all of you: it's time to GET INVOLVED! Everyone in this section, put both your hands above your heads. Raise your hands! PUT THEM UP!
[the teachers do as they are told]
Joe Clark: You people represent the 70% of our students who just failed the practice exam. SEVEN OUT OF EVERY TEN STUDENTS! But that is not THEIR failure. I don't blame THEM. The problem is with YOURSELVES! How many hours do you spend preparing your lesson plans? How often do you stay after school to give your students, THE ONES YOU KNOW NEED IT, the extra help they require? *Keep your hands up!* Now you are getting a hint of the hopelessness and shame which makes those failing students throw up their hands at the thought of facing a world for which you have not prepared them. You now get the merest inkling of the despair they feel when left to the mercy of the streets. Keep your hands up high! Now, look around at yourselves. TURN AND LOOK AT YOURSELVES!
[They do so]
Joe Clark: Because you are failing to educate them, this is the posture that too many of our students will wind up in. Only they'll be staring down the barrel of a gun!
First Title Cards: The following is based on a true story. Once considered one of the finest schools in America, Eastside High of Paterson, New Jersey, declined over the years until an official report called it a "terrible cauldron of violence." The battle of one man, Joe Clark, to save Eastside High School and to restore its former pride is the subject of our story. It began about twenty years ago.
Thomas Sams: [while walking with his friends] Girl! I look at you and I want that oochie coochie!
Mayor Don Bottman: What do you want?
Leonna Barrett: Clark!
Mayor Don Bottman: Just like that, huh? Head on a platter.
Leonna Barrett: You think I got an attitude. Well, let me tell you what I think. I know why you like Clark. He's a guard dog. Does your dirty work. Keeps the black folk in line - that's fine. But you've got to get re-elected. I've got enough folks lined up with me to give you a DAMN hard time, and I will get more. I will organize. I will beat the streets.
Mayor Don Bottman: Unless I do what?
Leonna Barrett: Appoint me to the school board so we can vote Clark out. Otherwise, we'll just have to vote you out.
Mayor Don Bottman: Vote me out? You know, it's always good to see citizens avail themselves of the democratic process.
Leonna Barrett: My job's gonna be easy. You're not too popular these days, are ya?
Joe Clark: [to the Eastside students who have gathered outside City Hall to demonstrate on his behalf] I wonder why I can't get this kind of turnout for study hall!
Joe Clark: [to Kid Ray, who is leaving school to work for a crime syndicate] ... You'll be dead in a year, son. Hear what I'm saying? You'll be dead in a year!
Joe Clark: [after bringing down a drug dealer] Get this disgrace to his race out of here!
Clarence: [mimicking Mr Clark] Let me give you the key to my office.
Francesca: Ooh, your office!
Clarence: [puts his hand in his gym shorts] Whoa, THAT ain't the key!
Mr. Rosenberg: [in a conference room at city hall] Mr. Mayor it seems that Mr. Clark's students have assembled outside in an exercise of their first amendment rights.
Mayor Don Bottman: How many?
Mr. Rosenberg: It looks like... all of them.
Joe Clark: [to the students in the cafeteria] You will sing the school song upon demand, or suffer dire consequences!
Joe Clark: Ms. Levias, these miscreants don't know the school song - they've got three days detention.
The Students of Eastside High: [repeating line; chanting during a peaceful march towards the Paterson Board of Education] Free Mr. Clark!