“Laurel Sturt offers one teacher’s perspective –no holds barred–on the challenges facing high-needs schools and who ends up benefitting from a broken system.”

Randi Weingarten, President

American Federation of Teachers


“At times heartbreaking, other times hilarious, Laurel Sturt’s Davonte’s Inferno pulls no punches about the corporate ed reform malpractice in NYC. No school left unpunished, even the “….storied Bronx High School of Science, which has produced Nobel Laureates” suffered under a regime that pushed some of the best teachers out of the doors. A must read.”

Karen GJ Lewis, President

Chicago Teachers Union


“New York City teachers know all too well how misguided policies, dwindling resources and attacks on the profession have harmed our public schools. Laurel Sturt takes us inside that world by detailing the daily struggles she and her colleagues faced in and out of the classroom.”

Michael Mulgrew, President

United Federation of Teachers

New York City


“Eloquently, coherently and passionately, the truth about education today from a teacher on the inside. An important read for those concerned with the future of our kids, and our nation.”

Deborah Meier

Director Emeritus,

Coalition of Essential Schools


“If you want to understand the challenges faced by teachers in our public schools, listen to their stories. Laurel Sturt shares her experiences with sharp humor that will make proponents of phony reforms think twice.”

Anthony Cody


“Occasionally a book comes along that crystalizes one’s sense of frustration with an issue while providing an interesting perspective and blueprint for change in the margins of the despair chronicled therein. Laurel Sturt’s riveting teacher memoir is such a book. Sturt’s sterling prose and meticulous documentation of her experience lays bare the poison playbook utilized by so called education reformers to undermine the foundations of public education. There is much food for thought here, and not just for teachers.”

Yohuru Williams

Professor of History

Fairfield University


“Laurel M. Sturt spent forty seasons in hell. Her story of teaching in a failing Bronx school–that is a school whose daily operations and tyrannies, petty and great, fail students and teachers– is not just informed and on target but sensually drawn and true. Like an expert surviving witness to the bombings of Guernica or Dresden or Gaza, she describes with pained detail the carnage and its aftermath from martinet principals, the systematic miseducation of at-risk children by self-named education reformers whose mania for “teaching to the test” is dooming a generation, and the gross incompetence of profit-driven “test-prep” corporations that are turning teaching from an art to a sweat-shop operation. I can think of no author who so vividly and accurately describes the institutional agonies of talented teachers who go into the profession enthusiastically and for the best of reasons and leave –the turnover in inner-city schools is epidemic, Sturt shows–shattered and betrayed. With all the loose talk about how teachers are the cause of student failure, Sturt’s exhaustive portrait of just what educators do well every day, how they are hamstrung and what low-income students and parents want and need in the way of wrap-around services should go a long way in shutting down that ignorant and destructive blame-the-teacher narrative. Facts don’t often speak for themselves, but Sturt’s facts roar. Read this book.”

Michael Hirsch

The Indypendent

“In comparison to Davonte’s Inferno by Laurel M. Sturt… Well, there is no comparison to this brilliantly descriptive memoir of the reality of public schools in New York. It stands by itself, and therefore needs to be read widely by teachers, parents and those who are interested and involved in public education today… This is not a book for the faint of heart; also the viewers of Mayberry or Welcome Back Kotter re-runs should avoid this book… It is a first person account by an intelligent and perceptive writer of the reality she experienced… Sturt pulls no punches, nor does she create a one-size-fits-all utopian solution…WARNING: Davonte’s Inferno is very difficult to put down. Read it at your own risk.”

Ken Previti


“You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll find yourself shouting along as Laurel Sturt recounts the ten years (spoiler alert: it’s really eleven) she spent teaching in a Bronx elementary school. Sturt’s account combines passion, rage and humor to document what the corporate education reform agenda feels like from the vantage point of an urban teacher. I couldn’t put it down and I haven’t stopped thinking about it yet.”

Jennifer C. Berkshire


“Davonte’s Inferno sheds light on the social and emotional problems facing a great number of students in urban Title I schools, including the toxic stress associated with poverty that negatively impacts student learning.  Aside from her eye-popping descriptions of the tyrannical principals she endured, Sturt, in you-can’t-make-this-up fashion, could have been describing my own New York City public school.  While Sturt acknowledges that ineffective teachers do exist, she also calls many of the teachers in her school “accomplished and committed” and claims that she would have been happy to have them teach her own son.  Davonte’s Inferno is authentic and nuanced; a must-read for anyone involved in debates on the “achievement gap” and teacher tenure.”  

Katie Lapham

Critical Classrooms



“With the perspective of a teacher working in the particular hell created under the Bloomberg/Klein era, Sturt chronicles her life in the classroom in a hell-hole of a school in a high poverty area of the Bronx where each succeeding principal (there were four over her ten years in the system) is worse than the one before. Laurel makes us party to the hilarious and often tragic parade of idiot principals, from the aptly-named Cruella to the egomaniac Guido to Principal Dearest to Rosemary’s Baby. What makes Sturt’s book special is that she does not just tell a story about one school’s dysfunction. She ties the insanity of the national, state and citywide policies and how they impacted on the day to day functioning of her classroom and her school.”

Norm Scott

Ed Notes Online


 “A devastating look at the experience of teaching in a high poverty school in the years of the Bloomberg mayoralty. “Davonte’s Inferno” is the angriest teacher memoir I have ever read, and perhaps the best written.”

Dr. Mark Naison
Department of African and
African American Studies,
Fordham University
“A brutally honest, gripping tale of life in the trenches of an inner city school, in the framework of today’s corporate assault on teachers, unions and public education.”
Marla Kilfoyle
Parent Advocate and Educator,
National Opt-Out of the State Test,  
Parents and Teachers Against the Common Core
“This eye-opening tell-all had me gasping with outrage: what teachers endure these days is beyond abuse. Considering America needs two million new teachers in the next decade, who will sign up for this torture?”
Priscilla Sanstead
Badass Teachers Association
“Laurel M. Sturt contextualizes the nightmare that No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and the Common Core have brought to public schools, offering readers a first row seat to the experience of teaching under such ill-conceived policies. Rarely is there this level of candor in a discussion about education, and it’s a damn good read, to boot.”
Catherine Ionata
Veteran Teacher
Charter School Administrator