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Chalkboard Jungle: Real-Life Teaching Nightmare Inspires Debut Novel

Written by Barbara Kovacs, this topical and riveting new novel tells a tale that many educators will recognize as the current reality of the American education system.


Deerfield Beach, FL -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/04/2014 -- Debut author Barbara Kovacs used to be a teacher. For three and a half years, Kovacs taught in the Florida public school system before she fell victim to the arbitrary and damaging rules of standardized testing.

This hellish event comes to life in Kovacs’ sharp and intelligent novel, ‘Chalkboard Jungle: One Teacher’s Struggle to Survive in the American Public School System’. Main character Brenda Connor is like many new teachers; full of dreams for the future, hope for her students and plans to shake up the educational system. Her happiness is quickly dampened by the realities of the job – standardized tests, a vicious assistant Principal, apathetic parents, and disrespectful students.

Brenda can’t help but wonder: is her dream job actually a nightmare?

“Of course I could relate to Brenda all too well,” says Kovacs. “Because of one year of low test scores, I was tortured mercilessly by my administration until I was forced to resign or else be placed on a disciplinary plan which would lead to my eventual termination. Sadly, I'm not the only teacher who has ever been the scapegoat for low standardized test scores. The educational system is in dire need of reform and I wrote this book to open the average person’s eyes to the plight of teachers in the United States.”


Brenda Connor dreamed of being a teacher her whole life. Recently graduated from college, she's thrilled when she gets a job as a public school math instructor. But her joy soon turns to despair when she realizes the job she dreamed of is something of a nightmare.

First, the length of her employment is based on the results of a standardized test known as the FCAT. What's more, Brenda's students are disrespectful and uninterested in learning-and in spite of Brenda's phone calls, their parents don't care. The administration is determined that students must improve their test scores-no matter the cost. Brenda quickly finds herself under the watchful eye of assistant principal, Mrs. Harrison, who-instead of offering her support-seeks to get rid of Brenda, documenting her performance in the classroom and threatening to place her on a professional disciplinary plan

Brenda's only friend, Mr. Fisher, is also under evaluation. They are both thwarted at every turn, harassed via weekly interrogations and classroom reviews. Brenda's dream of being a teacher is vanishing before her eyes, and she must decide: are students worth fighting for, or will she give in to administrative pressure and quit before stress destroys her body and mind?

While Kovacs still believes that teaching is an honorable and admirable profession, she does caution those who enter into it to have an open mind.

“What I will say is that I wish I had known what I was getting into,” says the author. “Most new teachers are quite naïve, and rightly so – there’s no one who will tell them the truth. Anyone who is currently studying education should read my book and speak out about the injustice that is happening right now in the school system. If we all get together, change can happen.”

Stunningly realistic, vividly written and from-the-heart, this book is a must-read for teachers, their friends or anyone who ever picked up a piece of chalk and thought, “what if?”

“Chalkboard Jungle: One Teacher’s Struggle to Survive in the American Public School System” is available now in Hardcover, Paperback and eBook formats: http://amzn.to/Ofwvbh or can be purchased directly through iUniverse Publishing.

About Barbara Maria Kovacs
Barbara Maria Kovacs, has a bachelor's degree in math from Arcadia University and a master's degree in library science from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently lives in South Florida.