The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School is the memoir of the author’s tough year as a high-school teacher in a failing New York high school — and what a year! The irony is that the author left a cushy job as fundraiser for a non-profit organization that identified promising students and helped them obtain and fund their education to find himself teaching in the kind of schools from which his organization tries to rescue students. With a drug dealer, the illiterate 17-year old freshman, the pregnant girl, the rabble-rouser, the psychopath, the manipulative grandma, the plain disinterred students, it’s hard to see how any learning can take place. Add an adminstration that is unwilling to take strong stands (and a union who refuses to back the teachers who want to work a few more hours to provide a more structured environment) and success is elusive. A sobering firsts-person account.