When a school in Paterson, New Jersey, has less-than-average basic skills test scores, it faces the possibility of being taken over by the state. So the mayor asks the school superintendent for help, and he suggests that they appoint the controversial Joe Clark as the school principal. Clark begrudgingly agrees. And when he arrives, he shakes things up by reassigning teachers and calling all of them incompetent. And it isn't long before a lot of people want him out, but at the same time, he gains the respect of some of the teachers and the students.