Author H.B. Koplowitz did not begin teaching at Los Angeles Southwest College with the intent to write a book, and he didn’t record or take notes of conversations. It wasn’t until months after he’d left the job that he realized that therein lay a story.
But from various memos, class plans, rosters and, most helpfully, the student newspapers he had saved, along with his recollections and those of others from the college, he was able to compile a timeline of his experiences. Everything in the book happened, and in the same order, although in the particulars, especially the dialog, the author filled in memory gaps as best he could. To protect the innocent and spare the guilty from cheap shots, he changed the names of the college and most of the people there, but they are all real.
The section of the book the author took the most factual liberties with is Chapter 10, “Final Project,” about him assigning his public relations students to create a P.R. campaign to bring peace to the Middle East. The author did give his P.R. class such an assignment and spent several classes lecturing on “the history of the people, cultures, religions, governments and factions in the Mideast …” (144). He also made analogies between gangs in the Middle East and South-Central.
But some of what he said during the lecture was inaccurate, and some of his opinions have evolved, so he changed some of what he said to what he would have said if he’d had months to research and think about it, as he did when he wrote the book. However, the four P.R. projects in the story are what the students actually came up with, and the wording of the final exam is verbatim from the original. The dean did show up as he giving the final exam, and the ending also happened as written.