There have been comparable books--softened to a degree by a little hope or humor (Herndon's The Way It Spozed to Be; Sunny Decker's The Empty Spoon) which Mr. Haskins, a black teacher in a public school in the heart of Central Harlem, does not permit. He taught there for a year before the strike in a shambles of a plant without a playground (there were always casualties on the street); the program was unstructured and uncoordinated, the classrooms unequipped (a year to get supplies), and at best teaching came down to a ""holding action."" One visitor said it was all ""very bad and very sad""--rats, fires, garbage, and not too far away, the parents who were the equal victims of this background. The diary consists of almost daily entries about his special CRMD class (Children with Retarded Mental Development) and you'll meet some of them at greater length in profiles at the close: Wilbert whose father always beats him up; Cherry Who hides in the toilet; etc., etc. Mr. Haskins' diary is laconic, stripped, peremptory and he immobilizes his readers at the bottom of the down stair-case.