The list author says: "The inner city teacher who inevitably overcomes tremendous hurdles to help students achieve is a theme shared by a decent number of movies - which I list below to the best of my recollection. Apologies if I missed any favorites.
Many are hysterically out-of-touch, most are well-meaning, some are entertaining, even if unintentionally so, half are rather schmaltzy. They are often based on true stories. These movies started with Blackboard Jungle and continued to more recent films like Freedom Writers.
Often a rich white teacher saves the black kids, someone prepares for a test or something, or crazy administrator has to turn things around. Inevitably, colleagues disagree with "unorthodox methods" but later realize that they work and begrudgingly admit it. Gangs or a gang leader who stalk the teacher are often the central conflict.
Educational Sociologists, somewhat predicatably, often claim these movies are bad. Not so much for the obvious reason - many of them are really just awful movies, but because they feel social forces beyond your control lead you to be a bad teacher and that the pressure to do a great job from these movies is unrealistic. Personally, I think that's nonsense. While educrats do make teaching well borderline impossible, nobody joins the police force and kills themself because they don't measure up to Dirty Harry. Movies also doesn't render change impossible, like sociological determinism does. I'd say one of these things has no place in Education. Hint - it's not the "The Principal" starring John Belushi. You can make a difference.
That said, my personal favorites are "The Principal" and "The Substitute 2" mainly because they're action movies as well. Also, in "The Substitute" series, educrats generally do not live until the end of the movie. In my opinion, that's a wonderful development.
"In Lean on Me, Morgan Freeman plays a bullhorn wielding African-American principal trying to turn a bad school around. In Stand and Deliver, Edward James Olmos plays a Hispanic teacher who has his students take the AP Calculus exam. Also notable for being parodied on South Park. As far as the genre goes, pretty good."
"The first one is an extremely entertaining and well-made action/teacher movie starring Berenger that has a lot of stuff to say about teaching and administrators. Despite being an action movie, I think this probably has the most realistic classroom sequences."
"Sequel to the Substitute that's almost as good as the first one, despite lower production values. Goes in a different direction though. This one is actually more of a teacher/hero genre movie with action elements than an action movie with some teacher movie elements. Watch for the "History of the Yo-yo" scene. Overall, one of the best in the genre."