Lean on Me

Lean on Me Movie Poster

"Eastside High was a training ground for jail.  The Joe Clark took over.  Now the kids are getting something they never had.  A future".  Lean on Me, an award winning film released in 1989, starred Morgan Freeman as Mr. Joe Louis Clark.  The film received mixed to positive reviews, and was a profitable venture for Warner Brothers.  Based on a true story, this movie chronicles the life of a New Jersey high school teacher who is asked to return to his old school, after being gone for 20 years, to clean things up.

Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey is weighed downed by drugs and gang violence, which is one of many reasons the students are doing poorly academically.  In fear of losing state financing, school administrators decide to hire Joe Louis Clark (Freeman), also known as “Crazy Joe”, as the new principle.  20 years earlier, Joe had demonstrated his radical ways as a teacher at the school.  On his first day as principal, he continued the tradition, scolding the staff and expelling a number of gang bangers.

Soon, Joe locks the doors during school hours to keep the expelled gang bangers out.  This eventually gets him arrested, but as time wears on, Joe begins to gain the respect and popularity of the students. Just before the mayor tries to remove Clark as principal, the entire student body converges on the education building to demand that Clark be released from jail and put back in charge.  In the end, Clark is reinstated, and the student’s hard work pays off, as Eastside High means the minimal testing standards and retains their state funding.