Season 4 was my favorite, perhaps because I could identify with it a bit more, having taught 4th grade in south central LA.
I was actually surprised at how similar the 8th graders in the show were compared to the kids in my class. Although none were dealing drugs, they were definitely concerned with the same things, such as candy, clothing, the opposite sex, etc.
It was also extremely dead-on how the kids would react differently to different teachers. However, one thing that was way off and unrealistic was the amount of support prez got from from the principals. Where I was teaching, I was on my own. I had to deal with discipline all by myself. If you sent a kid down to the office, the principals would send them right back. And if you even questioned this policy a bit, you would only make your job more difficult as they would put more kids with discipline problems into your class and remove the well behaved ones.
Simon says the wire is about institutions and not crime etc., and that makes sense. You kind of get a sense of it, with colvin and the resistance from the "puzzle factory," but it is even more stifling than that. There was nothing about the usual adversarial relationships you have with parents, very little about feeling completely powerless to do anything to help these kids and absolutely nothing about the adversarial relationships you have with other teachers.
For instance, I never had a janitor clean my room. During xmas break, another teacher stole my books. There were several teachers in the school who had tenure and just collected a pay check and let the kids run around the school with no supervision. Every teacher was supposed to have a teacher's aide who was a student in college studying education. My teacher's aide? Was a person with mental retardation from the neighborhood.
You also can never take a day off. 1. there are no substitutes available for your school as no one wants to work there. If you do miss work, your class will get dumped on another teacher for the day. If you do manage to somehow line up a sub, it will be a disaster as the kids will take liberties with the sub.
One day there was a mass murder in the neighborhood and they locked the school down, with helicopters flying overhead for hours. I went home that night and watched the news. There was no mention of it at all.