Dangerous Minds is a dramatic film that stars Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer plays LouAnne Johnson, a tough, no-nonsense retired veteran who takes a job teaching high school in an impoverished urban neighborhood. Johnson finds a classroom full of tough, angry teenagers who do not want to listen to her. Drug use and gang membership plague the school.
The students do not respect Johnson at all. They refer to her as White Bread. Johnson tries to act tough in a way to get the students interested in learning. She tries to teach them karate which they respond to but when it comes time to actual schoolwork, the teens don't care.
Johnson realizes that she needs to come up with creative ways to get the students to do work. One thing she does is give everybody an A at the beginning of the school year. She then tells her students that it is up to them to keep the A. She uses song lyrics to get the teens into poetry. Johnson's bosses at the school are not supportive of her methods.
They want her to follow a rigid curriculum to teach the teens. Many of the students are facing personal dramas that are affecting their performance in school. Callie is a very smart student who ends up getting pregnant. Raul is a tough kid who becomes involved in a gang and drug dealing. Emilio is also another tough kid who is too proud to ask for help. Johnson tries to work individually with all these kids as a way of keeping them on track to finish their education.
Johnson definitely feels burned out after the school year comes to an end. She decides to leave the school and find another job. However, when she announces her decision, the reaction of the teens amazes her. None of them want her to go. As a result, Johnson decides to stay.