"[Boland] never paints himself a hero, rather shares his failings generously when his own education and passion leave him short on immediate solutions. Boland seamlessly ushers readers into his stressful world and keeps them there. Readers will ache for him when students turn in blank worksheets, laugh when he tries to control his classroom using phrases he imagines 'a real teacher would say,' and furiously turn the pages to find out what the next school day holds. While there are few victories, readers are not left hopeless. Some students succeed, and Boland concludes the book with his case for changes needed in America's educational system. With skillful storytelling, self-deprecating humor and swiftly paced narratives, Boland's vulnerability will lure readers from the first scene."Associated Press
"The Battle for Room 314 chronicles a year of gladiatorial altruism in the unruly arena of American public education. Ed Boland shares the startling, funny, audacious, and sad confrontations and conundrums he must puzzle his way through after deciding to try his hand at one of the most important, least appreciated professions in this country: teaching. His vivid anecdotes ensure there will be no reader left behind. Like his students, he sometimes fails a test, but he never loses hope, and his story gleams with insight and urgency."Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
"By turns harrowing and hilarious, Ed Boland's memoir about teaching in a New York City high school is raw, moving, and smashes the dangerous myth of the hero-teacher. The story told in The Battle for Room 314 shows us how high the stakes are for our most vulnerable students. It offers a fresh view and a pointed and powerful first-person perspective on American public education."Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
"There is an edge to this book that I have not encountered before in any book about education, and it is extremely refreshing because education is edgy and often controversial."
"Enthralling...By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Boland's memoir is a deeply human story about the power of teaching."
"Boland has a knack for capturing the stakes in seemingly small moments and the intensity of clashes between personalities. Ruthless in his evaluation of himself, his students, and the larger educational system, Boland provides a clear look at the challenges facing public schools today."
"Boland is modest, likable, and realistic...[He] has a charming way with words that makes the book entertaining to read, even laugh-out-loud funny...The results of his experiment in teaching are dispiriting and absolutely beautiful, in turn."
"Captivating, insightful, and instructive...Boland's colorful descriptions let the reader share his experience, living his successes, his growing understanding of his craft and his students, his dissections of days that did not go well, and his efforts to maintain hope."
"Told with compassion and wry humor...An unflinchingly honest account of one man's experiences with inner-city education."
"Riveting... There's nothing dry or academic here. It's tragedy and farce, an economic and societal indictment of a system that seems broken beyond repair."NY Post
"Boland writes a book filled with funny, startlingly real moments that will entertain and educate even as it sheds light on the problems."Columbus Dispatch
"If you've ever fretted about the state of educationon either side of the teacher's deskThe Battle for Room 314 goes to the head of the class."Naples News
"The Battle for Room 314 is a personal account of Ed Boland's jarring foray into the high school classroom from the world of fundraising. With humor, insight, and grim persistence, Boland grapples with the realities of his students' lives as they all face the enduring issue of poverty. This memoir is a humbling reminder that no teacher is an island, and that schools, systems, and communities all share a responsibility to ensure that every child has access to a quality education."James E. Ryan, Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education
"In a sea of books in which the conquering hero arrives at an inner city school and magically transforms it, Ed Boland's The Battle for Room 314 is a breath of fresh air. Finally, a book that presents not the panacea but the reality of making schools work in communities where students face the triple challenge of poverty, racism, and violence."
Luis Ubinas, former president, the Ford Foundation
"From laughter to heartbreak, Ed Boland's The Battle for Room 314 is a searing indictment of the current state of urban public schooling. With humor, sensitivity, and sophistication, Boland challenges us to acknowledge and reform our country's starkly bifurcated educational system-and the racial and socioeconomic power structures that back it. Deserving of a place alongside Jonathan Kozol's classic Death At An Early Age, Boland's memoir is an absolute must-read for educators, politicians, and activists."Dan-el Padilla, author of Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League
"This is a fantastic book funny, heartbreaking, insightful everything a reader could want in a book about something as important as our education system. It reads like a fast-paced novel, with Boland choosing to illustrate so many dynamic scenes that pack a punch AND relay a message, while never coming across as preachy or condemning. An honest, searing portrait of the challenges facing public schools from all sides showing us the humanity and grace of the REAL people in these very REAL institutions. I laughed and cried through this wonderful book, and when I finished, I wanted to read it again."Rachel Harper, author of Brass Ankle Blues and This Side of Providence
"Ed Boland's honesty, heart, and humor left me laughing, crying, shaking my fist in rage (sometimes all at the same time), open-mouthed with his hard-won insights. The Battle for Room 314 punches you right in the heart, and should be read by...everyone."Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Somebody's Daughter
Boland, a 20-year veteran-executive for educational nonprofits and former admissions officer at Yale University and Fordham University, flirting with a mid-career change and desiring to be closer to the success stories the nonprofits he worked for achieved, took the plunge and became a certified teacher. After completing a master's program in teaching, Boland, awash in new-instructor jitters and idealism, found himself teaching history in room 314 in an inner-city New York high school with more than 30 ninth-grade students. This memoir is his gritty, self-reflective, sometimes humorous account of his first year. Boland's colorful descriptions let the reader share his experience, living his successes, his growing understanding of his craft and his students, his dissections of days that did not go well, and his efforts to maintain hope. The epilog summarizes his journey and includes specific advice to prospective teachers as well as a roadmap for educational reform. VERDICT Captivating, insightful, and instructive, Boland's first-person account and authentic struggle to understand the broken elements of the education system will appeal to students of education, educational leadership, and social work.—Jane Scott, Clark Lib., Univ. of Portland, OR
A nonprofit executive tells the story of the year he spent as a teacher in a struggling urban high school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. A few years into his career as the development director of Project Advance, a nonprofit organization that helped underprivileged kids attain elite educations, Boland decided that he wanted in on "the front lines of education." After two years of graduate training, he quit his comfortable job and began his teaching apprenticeship, where his idealism was soon tested. While the author worked with a few genuinely good teacher-mentors, many he observed turned out to be "burned out and boring" if not outright incompetent. His hope was temporarily restored when he began his first job teaching ninth-grade world history at Union Street School. There, he met dynamic instructors who seemed to be making a difference among the urban youth they taught. As soon as he stepped into his own classroom, however, he discovered just how difficult his task would be. Many students openly defied him as they derailed his efforts to teach them; only a few showed any sincere willingness to learn. When he and his colleagues attempted to make changes to their schedules to better manage the large number of students they taught, the administration rejected their plans. What made his job, which he left after one year, even more trying was learning about the lives of his students outside of class. Many had not only dealt with poverty, but also violence, drug and sexual abuse, neglect, and even homelessness. Three years later, Boland learned that half of his original 90 students graduated; only a tiny fraction went on to attend college. Though told with compassion and wry humor, the book is often difficult to read. Yet the ideal-shattering truths it reveals are important ones for teachers and administrators seeking to reform the urban education system in the United States. An unflinchingly honest account of one man's experiences with inner-city education.
In 2006, Boland left behind a rewarding 20-year career in fund-raising to teach at a New York City public high school. He lasted only one year on the job, but the experience was enough to supply him with a book’s worth of stories and insights. In this enthralling memoir, Boland spends most of his time in a classroom at Union Street, an innovative, reform-minded school, struggling to maintain control of his charges. “In room 314,” he writes, “my roles of ineffective cop and feckless social worker always trumped my job as a teacher.” Throughout, Boland introduces us to some of the memorable students who gave him fits. There is Jesús, the tough guy menace; Byron, the bored, out-of-place genius; and a fearsome rabble-rouser nicknamed Nemesis. Like most real-world education policy, the advice for improvement that is given to Boland is extremely contradictory. Despite his relative inexperience, his bold call to action at the end of the book is right on the money: it perfectly summarizes what is wrong with public education in America, and how we can fix it. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Boland’s memoir is a deeply human story about the power of teaching. Agent: Jim Levine, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. (Feb.)