Barbara Butler teaches English in an urban high school in the 1980s where the students learn nothing and the faculty doesn’t care. Fed up with the collective dishonesty of her colleagues, she has decided to resign and tells the story of her last year of teaching in Beating a Dead Stick.
A student is raped in the book room but refuses to identify the rapist. Another student is murdered during a robbery at a convenience store near the school. There are rumors of a call-girl ring involving the students, but the faculty remains comically oblivious, and the administration insists all is well, even as the situation worsens.
When Barbara’s best friend, a transvestite math teacher, is beaten up but is too frightened to identify his attacker, she turns to a former student, now a grown-up detective, who helps discover the truth.
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