Kidder leaves out important parts of Ms. Zajak's story. Why, for example, would a teacher let a child like Robert stab himself, hit himself, and commit other self-destructive acts, without sending that child for an evaluation? Too much of this book is praised without looking seriously at Kidder's failure to cover the entire story. Ms. Zajak spends too much time with the Clarence issue and not enough time with her other students.
As a teacher in a small, inner-city, 99% Hispanic school in Chicago, I agree that the issues addressed in this book are real. The students in today's classroom have the same problems as Ms. Zajak's students had in the 80's. This book offers few productive solutions. This book was assigned reading for both my undergraduate and graduate education classes. Most of the students in my graduate classes; many of whom are adults with children of their own, rather than young, recent graduates; felt this book was poorly written, mildly depressing, and written in such a way as too make Ms. Zajak look like a woman on the verge of "teacher burn-out". What parent would want their child to be taught by a woman who has never left her home town for more than one month? Is that an example for her students?
Most of my graduate class agreed that this book is too freely praised, and that another perspective on teaching should be offered in contrast to Kidder's.