Dangerous Minds is based on LouAnne Johnson's My Posse Don't Do Homework, an account of her teaching experiences in a northern California high school.
This zealous woman establishes authority in a chaotic classroom consisting mostly of poor Hispanic and black problem students by revealing her karate expertise as a former Marine. LouAnne sets up a reward system in order to get these nearly illiterate adolescents to read poetry.
The film, directed by John N. Smith, rests squarely on the shoulders of Michele Pfeiffer who puts her heart and soul into her portrait of a dedicated inner city teacher who, day by day, moves closer to burnout, thanks to an uncooperative principal, some antagonistic parents, and the violence of the streets.
LouAnne discovers that making students feel good about themselves and their potential is the key to bringing the adventure of learning alive in the classroom. "Appreciative words are," as George W. Crane once put it, "the most powerful force for good on earth!"