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Inner City School

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School Bully: Hey, where's our regular teacher?
Hammer: He took an easier assignment.... as a janitor at Chernobyl.
Sledge Hammer!, "To Sledge With Love"

Schools based on those in Real Life, where the poorer students go, not to learn, but to cut class, steal what isn't nailed down, vandalize what is, get it on in the restrooms, and do drugs all the time. Most of the teachers have all just given up on doing any actual teaching. And there are touches just to show how bad things are, like cages around the clocks and decades-old televisions to keep the students from messing with them.

This is where the Save Our Students plot usually takes place (but not always). They are often multi-ethnic enough to throw together a Five-Token Band. There is no in crowd to be in, and if circumstances force a Rich Bitch to transfer here, she will be devastated to learn there is no respect for the Alpha Bitch.

The uniform of choice involves piercings, hair spray-painted every color of the spectrum, leather jackets, and/or baggy jeans showing off students' colorful boxers. Sometimes there are (often haphazardly worn) school uniforms thrown into the mix.

Truth in Television, especially in the U.S., where schools in poor neighborhoods struggle since they are funded by local property taxes. Well-off American families have flocked to well-off American suburbs since the mid-20th century, often for the purposes of accessing "better" schools, exacerbating the funding problem (there's a deeper context to this phenomenon regarding U.S. history with racial segregation, but don't expect most works to deal too directly with that). Inverted in many parts of Europe, where the well-to-do tend to live in the inner cities. Latin American public schools are more or less homogeneously disseminated throughout the city, either the outskirts, very near to decent residential areas, or in the heart of the city. That's why there exists somewhat affordable (for the middle class) private schools in LATAM run by religious congregations — these schools are called "parroquiales". In the UK there may be some overlap with The Good Old British Comp, although that's not usually portrayed quite so negatively.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The vocational high school in AKIRA is a shining example of this trope. Graffiti covers the walls, half the students are drunk during their waking hours and almost all of them are unruly gangsters and delinquents. The principal himself has almost no authority over his students, so he relies on the gym teacher, "Jaws", to outright beat them into obedience.
  • Every high school mentioned in Angel Densetsu barring Hekikuu (at least from the reader's point of view). Of course in the manga, Hekikuu High is the most feared of them all, with the devil Banchou, his invincible flunkies and all the yakuza fights around school.
  • In the Series Finale of Assassination Classroom, a full grown Nagisa starts his teaching career in a class filled with hostile delinquents who try to intimidate him. But by using the same teaching methods as Koro-sensei, he's able to get the boys to settle down and respect him. The implication being that Nagisa is going to set them straight just like his late teacher would.
  • In Bucchigiri?!, one of the main locations is Ichizu High where a majority of the student body is made of delinquents, banchos and street thugs who spend their time doing what they want without caring for their academics. Along with being covered in graffiti and damages, the first episode makes it clear that the teacher has no real authority and is simply ignored by his students.
  • All the high schools in Takahashi Hiroshi's works. Both Crows and Worst take place in the infamous Suzuran High. Bonus points for the extreme realism of the settings (not of the people, but hey, it's a shounen after all).
  • Played with in GTO: The Early Years. Tsujido High School, where the protagonists go, is full of gangs and delinquents, but it seems like most other schools shown in the series (except the all-girls private school) are similar. Within the school, the "problem students" are shoved into one class headed by a Sadist Teacher. Ryuji and Eikichi's old school, Kyokuto High, is shown in the prequel Bad Company to be even worse, with pretty much every male student being part of a gang. In Great Teacher Onizuka, Holy Forest Academy is an aversion being an elite private school, though Class 3-4 specifically is full of problem students who have gone so far as to make the last two teachers attempt suicide.

    Comic Books 
  • Omega the Unknown has a rather extreme example where one boy is beaten in a bathroom for tattling, eventually dying from his injuries.
  • The Punisher: One special has several stories where Frank investigates New York City public schools, dealing with problems such as guns or drugs being sold to the students (by the janitor and the principal respectively) and in one case, using Scare 'Em Straight on two kids before they start working for the Mafia).
  • Robin: Tim Drake transfers to a deplorable school in Bludhaven the week after his old school was shot up and closed down in a gang war (during which a friend of his died in his arms), his girlfriend was murdered in the same gang war, and his father was murdered by Captain Boomerang. He is understandably furious when some of the other students approach him with questions about the shootings at his previous school and arranges things so that he can drop out before a week is up.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dangerous Minds, based on LouAnne Johnson's autobiographical account My Posse Don't Do Homework. While the high school itself might be well off, the bussed in kids are typical of the trope.
    • The TV show is more typical of the trope than the movie.
  • The French movie Entre les murs (literally "Between the walls", English title is The Class) is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by François Bégaudeau, a teacher in Paris who taught at one of these schools.
  • In the Based on a True Story movie Freedom Writers, the main character tries to change the school she works at from this.
  • A complex Real Life example in documentary Hoop Dreams. Inner-city Marshall High is shown as a big step down from St. Joseph, the hoity-toity private school that kicks Arthur out when his family can't pay tuition. However, the faculty at Marshall are shown to be dedicated and hard-working, and the implication is that they care about Arthur more than the folks at St. Joseph ever did.
  • Lean on Me has a school that has degenerated into one of these, and a former teacher comes back as the principal determined to clean it up. But the methods he uses to do so anger many of the parents and administrators.
  • Music of the Heart features Meryl Streep as a violinist that becomes a music teacher in an inner city school in East Harlem.
  • The Principal: Brandel High is in the middle of a crime-ridden district. It's up to a disgraced reassigned principal to clean house.
  • Save the Last Dance takes place in one of these, with the heroine becoming the Token Minority — and she's white.
  • The Substitute and its sequels, which were chock full of Mighty Whitey posturing and wholesale slaughter of Mexican students.

  • Parker Junior High in Ethan, Suspended. Not played entirely straight in that, while it may have security cameras and uniforms instead of soap in the bathrooms and textbooks printed in recent decades, it's a fully-functioning school where actual learning takes place.
  • The school where Precious of Push by Sapphire goes.
  • Tangerine Middle in Tangerine, in stark contrast to Lake Windsor Middle.
  • Up the Down Staircase depicts one of these from the point of view of a teacher who is a novice, and is thus willing to try.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Drake & Josh has this in the form of a remedial English class in their otherwise normal high school. The class is constantly in chaos, the teacher is tied up and hung from the ceiling, and a greaser in a leather jacket brings a vicious dog into the classroom, among other things. Drake's Sadist Teacher threatens to send him there as a punishment.
  • Girl Meets World has another aversion, taking place in an NYC public school that's as nice as every other part of the Disney Channel Live-Action Universe.
  • Averted on Glee. Rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline is based at a public school in Akron, Ohio, which is a lot like Cleveland but not quite as affluent or classy. Nonetheless, the club has an exorbitant budget and has pulled stunts that you wouldn't expect from an inner city school in a Dying Town. This is because the Ohio on Glee has nothing in common with the real-life state.
  • The Ur UK example is, of course, Grange Hill which, although actually set in a more suburban area of North London, was a comprehensive school often struggling with funding, community relations, recruitment etc and also had many pupils from the sort of backgrounds and with the issues typical of this trope.
  • Head of the Class is set in a New York City school but averts many of the trappings since it's about a small class of academically gifted students.
  • Another UK example; Hope Park Comprehensive in 1990s Lenny Henry vehicle Hope And Glory. Henry plays a "superhead" of the kind that were in the UK news at the time, trying to turn around a school where the sixth form centre was burnt down, and the former head (Peter Davison) turns his leaving speech into a rant about how worthless it all is.
  • Key & Peele:
    • Vincent B. Clortho Public School for Wizards in their sketch "Inner City Wizard School." Apparently, the school has the highest incidence of wizard-on-wizard violence in America, 1 out of 5 witches at the school is pregnant with a demon baby, and the Quidditch team is so under-equipped their players have to ride mops and Swiffers.
    • The Substitute Teacher sketch has a teacher from an inner city school sub in for a class of suburban white kids. When taking attendance, he mispronounces every student's name as a Ghetto Name (for instance, "Jacqueline" becomes "J-Kwellen"), since those are the kinds of names he's used to. He gets angry at the kids when they correct him and accuses them of mispronouncing their names as a prank against him, because to him, their pronunciations sound completely ridiculous and thus he assumes they're making them up.
  • Lincoln Heights averts this. Neither the middle school or the high school featured resemble an inner city school, despite being in an inner city neighborhood. In fact the schools have teachers that actually care about the students, fairly updated technology and diverse ethic and racial groups.
  • This trope was rather acidly parodied in this MADtv (1995) sketch making fun of Save Our Students films. In it, a Nice White Lady inspires an inner-city school of troubled minority students.
  • An early UK example is Fenn St School from the early 1970s sitcom Please Sir!.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Teacher's Aide", Miss Peters teaches English at an extremely tough inner city school where none of the students make even the slightest bit of effort and knife fights between rival gangs are common.
  • In the The Wayans Bros., brothers Shawn and Marlon Williams as well as some of their friends are stated to have attended these when they were growing up, and other episodes like to poke fun as to what happens to pupils who were graduated from from there.
    • In an episode where Shawn is mentoring an ex-con, Marlon says that a girl frequents the newsstands everyday on her way to work to buy a magazine from the ex-con. When Shawn says how that proves she's interested in him, Marlon responds, "Negro, she can't read!"
    • In an episode where Shawn hooks up Marlon with the friend of a girl he's dating, Marlon is suspicious. After determining she has all her teeth, and doesn't wear a weave, he asks her to read something, when she does, Marlon is surprised that she's literate. The issue was that she has a young son.
  • Welcome Back, Kotter takes place in one.
  • The White Shadow is about a professional basketball player who following a career-ending injury returns to his inner-city high school as the basketball coach.
  • Fourth season of The Wire that takes place at the Middle School Randy, Dukie, and Michael attend and is particularly brutal and honest example of how they subconsciously prepare the kids for a life of dealing resulting in some of the series' biggest tear jerkers.
  • Used in an episode of Without a Trace.
  • Abbott Elementary takes place in one in inner city Philadelphia. It’s in an old and broken down building, teacher turnover is massive and it’s all but abandoned by the city and school district. But it also has dedicated teachers and kids who are willing to learn.

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 2, inner city boys-only Kasugayama High School has this reputation, especially compared to the more prestigious co-ed and residential Seven Sisters High. Kasugayama's delinquent gangs are a significant plot element of Eikichi's recent history and character development in Innocent Sin.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Family Guy when Brian had to teach a group of very tough students, though this was in a remedial class in a suburban school as opposed to an Inner City School. The tone remains the same, though, and the students fit the archetypes commonly seen in the Inner City School depictions.
  • PS 118 in Hey Arnold!. Ironically, while the school is managed by Dean Bitterman Principal Wartz everything is more or less under control, but the episode "Principal Simmons" replaces him with the Save Our Students professor Simmons that everything goes to hell.
  • The main characters in Legends of Chamberlain Heights attend one of these.
  • In the Pinky and the Brain episode "Dangerous Brains" in order to fund his latest Take Over the World plan, Brain gets a job as a teacher at one of these schools.
    Brain: Where are my students?
    Principal Bruin: In Cell-Block H.
    Brain: Is that what they call my classroom?
    Principal Bruin: No, they're really in prison, so I got you some new students.
  • Springfield Elementary in The Simpsons is usually a downplayed example, but it becomes a straight example in "The PTA Disbands!," in which Otto's bus is so poorly maintained that the floor crumbles out from under the kids' feet as the bus is moving, among other things. The school descends into anarchy when Ned Flanders becomes the new principal due to him, being the Nice Guy Extreme Doormat he is, just letting the kids do whatever they want.
  • The B-plot in the South Park episode "Eek, A Penis!" has Cartman temporarily teaching in place of Mr. Garrison, and his "class" gets high test scores thanks to Kenny stealing all the answers from Garrison's desk. Cartman gets the credit and he's then chosen to teach at an inner-city school, and teaches the kids how to cheat to pass their tests. They all ace a difficult exam, and students and teachers alike hail him as a hero. The B-plot is this a sort of Whole-Plot Reference to Stand and Deliver listed above.