Some critics have slammed Poizner for not portraying every student as eager and academically prepared. On the contrary, I find that this candidness is a strength of the book:
One personal insight that Poizner comes to is how difficult it can be to boost student achievement. He arrives at Mount Pleasant High School somewhat romantic about what one teacher can accomplish for children who have been in weak schools for years.
He never lets go of the goal of bringing out his students' full potential, but comes to recognize that many of them are missing the academic "background knowledge" and scholastic aspirations that many students have in upper-middle-class schools. He courageously faces these politically incorrect facts and the extra work they necessitate, without ever giving up in the least on his students.