The Education Views Of Jonathan Kozol
Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools
In today’s world education is one of the most valued aspects of life which most parents hope to provide for their children; however not every child in America receives the same quality of education and opportunity. The book written by Jonathan Kozol evaluates the sociological and economic aspect of American school education and makes a profound claim by accentuating the severe segregation that exist between the years of 1988 and 1990. He emphasises the amount of racial segregation that occurs in public schools despite what most Americans would describe as “a past injustice”. Although inequality of education is an immense issue, it is not considered in the national reports along with poor motivations, low reading and writing scores as well as high drop-out rates. He argues that equality and equity of education can not be achieved with the current status of the American education system.
Kozol states his argument based on his two years time spent with students, teachers and parents for purposes of observations and interviews. His aim in this book is to convince the people in power that the issue of inequality of education is an important matter that needs to be considered for the sake of children. This book amplifies the voices of these children to those who should be listening. The reason for his argument is to reflect the amount of work that still needs to be done in the areas of public education focusing mostly on urban schools. He presents his argument by providing several examples such as his experience in Boston in 1964 when he began working at a segregated public school in a fourth grade class that had no learning space with over 35 students as well as 13 different teachers. In addition, he noticed that the students had “reading level of a second grade” as well as maths of a first grade. This example is one of many that exhibits the lack of resources, quality of education, and staff that is not up to its peak excellence.
His argument is of great importance to him, as public schools are expected to provide less economically fortunate children with opportunities of equality with pupils of a richer background which, however is far from being met. This book is crucial to the writer and the children as it creates a profound awareness to the American community and the intensity of inequality and segregation that still lives in public schools. His journey in 1988 involves thirty areas within the United States such as Illinois, New York, San Antonio, Washington D.C etc. These schools mostly involved non-white students who did not mix with the white children. Some of the remedies that are suggested by few schools such as the ones in East St. Louis were to separate black males from other races and provide them with a different education. The likelihood of this being successful is improbable as the society they live in “has no obstetric services”, “Nearly a third of its families live on less than $7,500 a year; 75 percent of its population lives on welfare of some form.” It is difficult to place blame on students who are not successful when the areas they live in is described as “the most distressed small city in America.” As a result, the equality of education is an important matter to teachers such as Kozol as well parents of those children who face daily consequences of inequality, segregation and other disregarded issues.
Similar environments where they are described as “black hole” highly affect both the students’ and teachers’ motivation to achieve their best performance particularly where the curriculum is test driven. “On an average morning in Chicago, 5,700 children in 190 classrooms come to find that they have no teacher.” For any student this is a demotivating situation where students lose faith, enthusiasm and hope in their future as well as their likelihood of success. In some schools “salaries are far too low” that some of the teachers have to work two jobs to pay rent and a teacher who just came from doing another job is unlikely to perform as well as a teacher who only focuses on teaching. This exemplifies a situation where the education system desperately requires some reviewing so that every student in America can receive the best of their teachers’ ability and skill.
Camedian, New Jersey is the fourth poorest city in America and the children have one of the highest rates of poverty where half the family lives on less than $5000 per year. Pyne Point Junior High, located in Camedian, has many unhealthy and sick children who cannot afford the cost of private health care. Polluted air, soil filled with chemicals, unspeakable dumping system, poverty as well as lack of education are some of the health and wellness matters that exist in the district. Half the children who attend this school do not have books and “parents make no demands” for increased budgets because they’re not informed about the disparity of allocation of funding from school to school. It is depicted as a place where no mother would want to raise a child.
In contrast, five minutes drive away from Camdan is Cherry Hill where the majority of the inhabitants are white and each students has the “book they’re supposed to have for their grade level.” Similarly, we also have Riverdale which is provided with a lot more allowance than other schools due to the property values. Kozol asks why this difference exists in schools when what we strive for is equal opportunity for all. Unequal budget allocation is one of Kozol’s main purposes of his work. According to his observation the division of money seems to be determined by the region. The difference between schools that are surrounded with rich buildings and schools that are surrounded with less expensive houses is wide. Since the tax revenue from a rich district is higher than an economically poor district, the spending on public education in richer districts is relatively much higher. Thus, public schools in New York such as Public School 261(P.S.261) may only get $6,000 or less per student where as schools like Cherry Hill in New Jersey may receive up to $11,000 per student or even more. This budget allocation disparity leads to a state where education is provided in worn out buildings with insufficient resources and less qualified as well as skilled teachers. This in turn affects the quality of education provided for the children and with this condition equality and equity of education cannot be fulfilled.
“How can we achieve both equity and excellence in education in America?” is one of the most crucial questions Kozol distinctly asks. Is it perhaps the increase in spending in order to bring a difference in performance of students? People of rich background believe that no matter how much money is spent in public schools, it will not have any positive impact on the performance and standard of education that the children receive. According to the Wall Street Journal, the increase in spending has not made a difference in the “average achievement scores”. However, the journal did not mention the fact that the majority of the money was given to schools with higher performance. The overall average is brought down by public schools with low performance, but these are the schools which receive the lowest amount. In addition, it is also mentioned in the journal that raising teachers’ payment will not contribute to any sort of improvement in the education system and that increasing spending would lead to “diminished returns”. However, if this was the case decreasing the amount of money spent in richer schools should have either been indicated or considered.
The medium in which Kozol presents his arguments are very strategic as he gives detailed, chronological information. He begins each chapter by appealing to the reader’s emotion through the display of a child’s life and perspective. For instance, a girl named Shalika is given a voice as she shares her thoughts: “To some degree I do believe,” she says, “that this is caused by press reports. You see a lot about the crimes committed here in East St. Louis when you turn on the TV. Do they show the crimes committed by the government that puts black people here? Why are all the dirty businesses like chemicals and waste disposal here? This is a big country. Couldn’t they find another place to put their poison?” This helps Kozol to support his thesis and to later describe the area which the children live in followed by the status of the schools. This helps the readers to comprehend his argument and to evaluate the sociological similarities in these schools.
The evidences that he uses are indeed convincing as they are supported with reliable data as well as personal observations. However, as the data was collected 20 years ago it may be outdated and obsolete, hence it makes it valid only for that time frame. Whether the situation has improved or not is another investigation that needs to be done which will also show the impact of Kozol’s work in today’s society.
In conclusion, Kozol has asserted an important matter to depict the situation in public schools within the United States. Considering the United States is one of the most developed countries in the world, high quality of education would be expected. However, Kozol’s work gives insight to the disregarded situations which most well-off people have never been exposed to. His claim that the education system should be reviewed is well portrayed through the experiences of the children as well as his observation supported with statistics.
A Critical Analysis Of Jonathan Kozol’s Book Savage Inequalities: Children In America’s Schools
The new millennium brings many advances in our childrens learning. The introduction of technology and breakthrough teaching methods display a positive outlook for the educational system our children count on. Yet, this optimistic view is believed by many to be looked at through rose-colored glasses.
Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools looks at the ways the government, the society, and the educational system fail poor children, especially poor African-American children, in the United States. Kozol’s work, which examines six cities where he finds common problems, illustrates the key shortcomings that work against the education of the less fortunate.
Kozols major argument focuses on the notion that the United States government does not provide enough funding for the schooling of poor children; yet is generous with spending in districts where wealthier families reside. Therefore, the primary problem lies not with the childrens capabilities, but within the structure of the system, which has let them down.
This spending pattern is a fundamental part of public policy at all levels of government. Additionally, this financial inequality limits the rights of low-income children to obtain a solid education and limits their opportunities to become successful adults.
Three major points need to be illustrated in the analysis of Kozols work. First, it is important to express societies view of low income equals low performance, which translates into less obligation of the government to put forth a true effort to support education. Second, this analysis will show the low-income cities are not capable of surviving in the community with the support of the funds needed for a good education. This is further revealed through the political area that further perpetuates the problem. Third, this analysis will expose the separation of children in schools by income compounds the issue of segregation by forcing minority children to be surrounded by other low-income minority children, which creates a resentful, negative cycle.
The nation is caught in a brutal cycle of educational, racial and socioeconomic inequity. Kozol argues that the only solution to this problem is the increased role of the government in the financial support of the less fortunate children and the under funded schools they attend. The prosperous families will not voluntarily help the poor, who cannot assist themselves in this case. This solution will be a difficult one to achieve, since the trend in the country is to cut back on government spending in all areas. Another trend is to have private resources fill in the gaps left by government cutbacks. However, as Kozol points out, “Cutting back the role of government and then suggesting that the poor can turn to businessmen who lobbied for such cuts is cynical indeed” (Kozol 82).
Kozol’s outlook is gripping because it takes aim at both the mind and the heart of the reader. He appeals to intellect by using statistics, which show that the nation has a segregated, and imbalanced school system, in which the rich receive better educations and the poor, especially minorities, receive less of an education. For example, he compares poor and wealthy school districts in San Antonio. The poor district spends $2800 yearly on each child’s education, and “72 percent of children [in that district] read below grade level.” In the wealthy district, $4600 is spent yearly on each child. In that district, “virtually all students graduate and 88 percent of graduates go on to college” (Kozol 224).
He appeals to the heart by showing how this unjust school system is also an ethical and spiritual failure that will eat away at the soul of the nation. He also appeals to the heart of the reader by, as has been previously expressed, letting the children speak for themselves for the reason that the children are the victims of this system. One 14-year-old girl says, “We have a school in East St. Louis named for Dr. King. The school is full of sewer water and the doors are locked with chains. Every student in that school is black. It’s like terrible joke on history.” (Kozol 35).
Kozol is most effective because he shows his own fear and despair: “East St. Louis will likely be left just as it is for a good many years to come: a scar of sorts, an ugly metaphor of filth and overspill and chemical effusions, a place for blacks to live and die (Kozol 39)
Many skillful journalists are proficient at finding the heartfelt story inside all the rhetoric and confusion a large issue brings forth. This book exposes the foundations of the “savage inequalities” of the educational system. It is a clear and straightforward solution that the nation must spend more money on the poor and minorities in the schools if the nation is to remain great and to live up to its promises. Though this apparent solution is idealistic, Kozol wants to show how racial segregation and socioeconomic deprivation of the underprivileged are causes of the schools’ failures, a fact which he says most leaders fail to recognize. The effort to reform the schools has failed, he says, because they focus not on inequalities of money and race but on low reading scores, high dropout rates, poor motivation.” (Kozol 3), If the problem is in the students and not in the entire system, how can we explain the fact that lower test scores and higher drop-out rates are more prevalently found in poorer counties.
Kozol’s argument, then, is twofold. First, he argues simply that the nation does not spend enough money on the poor and minorities, especially African Americans in urban centers. The continuing segregation of whites and blacks is a major part of this political and economic failure. There is no connection from community to community within a state. Kozol speaks of a bridge that separated East St. Louis from a more affluent county. Kozol points out the police were shutting down a bridge in East St. Louis for a Fourth of July celebration due to muggings in the past. He also said, black leaders saw this as a suspiciously racist action. These actions showed the noticeable separation between social and economic classes living in a similar region.
Second, Kozol argues the notion to spend more money on the education of these students is presently a futile endeavor. Also, any reform, which does not include such added spending, will be a tragic failure. In all six cities, a ringing matter in each school comprises of missing and damaged textbooks, supplemental materials and normal building necessities such as clean classrooms and bathrooms needed to give the students a reasonable chance to be successful.
Kozol gives statistical data, which shows the more money spent on educating children; the more successful will be that education (Kozol 158). The school system, he demonstrates, is a system of separate and unequal education: “Behind the good statistics of the richest districts lies the triumph of a few. Behind the saddening statistics of the poorest cities lies the misery of many.” (Kozol 158).
Kozol points out both political and educational leaders understand that more money must be spent on the poor. However, the most powerful leaders who set policy fail to see the political and legal roots of the breakdown of the public schools for the underprivileged:
Government . . . forces us to go to [public schools]. Unless we have the wealth to pay for private education, we are compelled by law to go to . . . the public school in our district. Thus the state, by requiring attendance but refusing to require equity, effectively requires inequality. Compulsory inequity, perpetuated by state law, too frequently condemns our children to unequal lives (Kozol 56).
In other words, unfortunate children have no choice but to go to the under funded school in their district. As a consequence of continuing social segregation, schools are still separated, both by race and by income. Many of the deprived are minorities who live in the same area and go to the same schools. The affluent families go to public schools, but their schools are more heavily funded because their districts have greater income from the wealthy people who live in those districts. The result is a school system, which is not only segregated by race but also by expenditure. The differences in spending result create differences in success in public school education, in college education, and in socioeconomic success in the world following education.
We have focused on the three major strengths of the book. Those include the author’s in-depth research, his passionate, personal involvement in the lives of the people he studies, his clear focus on the problems in the school system, and the conclusions he draws with respect to what is needed to right the wrongs of the system. Furthermore, Kozol does not merely show how the schools themselves fail these children, but also shows how the political system fails them, and how the terrible social and economic conditions of their lives also prevents them from receiving the education which they need and deserve. Kozol is successful showing that a school is an expression of the spirit of the nation. If the nation’s social and political leaders fall short of providing the means to educate these children, the nation suffers not only socially and economically, but also morally and spiritually. The nation, which lets down its poorest children, is an unjust nation.
Although Kozols work is thoroughly researched and documented, the strongest part of the book is his decision to let the children articulate their point of view. Kozol does not present his views in a confrontation manner that express a desire to win an argument on theory. More accurately, Kozol keeps in mind the fact that these are very real children who suffer because the nation has unjustly regarded them as second-class citizens because of their race and their socioeconomic status, or lack thereof. As its written, “I decided . . . to listen very carefully to children and . . . to let their voices and their judgments and their longings find a place within this book (Kozol 6).
Kozol’s premise is that the failure to properly educate underprivileged minorities in this country is both political and financial. In addition though, it is also a spiritual and moral failure of our nations citizens. The heart and soul of the nation is its youth. If you fail to give these children everything they need to succeed in life, you plainly undermine that national heart and soul.
The failure of the schools is a sign of the failure of the government, society, and the nation as a whole. When the United States denies these children a good education, it shows it is a nation that has lost its morality.
Surely there is enough for everyone within this country. It is a tragedy that these good things are not more widely shared. All our children ought to be allowed a stake in the enormous richness of America. Whether they were born to poor white Appalachians or to wealthy Texans, to poor black people in the Bronx or to rich people in Manhasset or Winnetka, they are all quite wonderful and innocent when they are small. We soil them needlessly (Kozol 233).
Therefore, Kozol articulates the failure of the educational system is a form of political, racial and socioeconomic abuse of these children.
The breakdown of the public school system is a moral and spiritual failure. It fails to meet the requirements of the disadvantaged children. However, he concludes that all the spiritual and ethical pleas in the world will not make one bit of difference unless they are accompanied by more spending on the education of these children. Whether one likes it or not, this means that the government must increase spending for that education, or it will not be improved.
Kozol makes an emotional appeal for the government to act in the cases of these six cities as well as other cities in destitution or despair. However, one of the greatest arguments against the legitimate demand for more financial assistance to these cities is the review of your weekly paycheck. When more than a fourth of the income the citizens earn is going to the government, the feelings of the public are sympathetic but not monetarily reactionary. Kozols writings are fascinating, effectual and most of all, uplifting. The ideology of Kozols approach purely becomes interesting reading but ineffective policy.
The Problems of Educational System in Savage Inequalities
According to the book, Irl Solomon’s history class is described as the highlight of the school. The teacher, Mr. Solomon, who has been teaching in urban school for the past 30 years, mentioned that his original goal was to studied law but after a short a mouth of time he came to realize that law school is not for him and decided to be a teacher instead. His class was filled with four girls who are pregnant or have just recently gave birth. It seemed that those girls decided to have babies at that very young age and do not plan to have a higher education because have no hope for their future. The author explained that the diploma they will get from ghetto high school is not valuable in the States.
Jennifer, the student at the school in Rye, New York area, claimed that her family was originally form Bronx. She mentioned that the school in Bronx & East St. Louis area are very bad, she described them as “hell” and that was one of the reasons her family moved to Rye. Jennifer believes that someone else can not really do anything to help the people in that area to get a better life and education, it must be coming from them, it must be them that want it for themselves and take action. Jennifer agreed that everyone should have a chance to have equal education, however, she does not agree that a help from government or text money will change the life and education of the people in Bronx & East St. Louis area. She thinks that her parents should not be paying text to help support the poor areas because its not their responsibility.
East St. Louis is an urban the community that was full of poverty and the majority of the people in that area are blacks. The city did not have the enough money to do anything, they can’t even afford the toilet paper, there were a lot of trash piled up everywhere on the street and side walk, no money to repair the sewage pipes and caused it to explode everywhere in the city. The school in east St. Louis area did not at all have a proper help or funding to support the schools, they are facing a lot of problem such as shortage of staff, shortage of school supplies and it would be closed most of the time when the school is filled with sewage. It was the worst environment for children to be around. In contrast, at the school in Rye, New York area, the majority of the students are white and have money, so the school have a good funding from parents. In this area the schools were able to provide the students the supplies and good, relax educational environment they need.
In the past 20 years, I believe that there are some changes in educational system. I was born and raised in urban area in Thailand and it was decades ago that student who have less money mean they have less chance in having good education. Now, in this present time, students who don’t have money can still a good education. The schools now are able to offer some help by providing financial aid, books, transportation or even student loans for students who need it.
Problems of Education in Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools
Twenty eight years ago, Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities: Children In America’s Schools exposed educational disparities between schools. This book mentions the failures of public education, which he argues are the warnings of the broader case of urban degradation. The main argument of the book is that a tremendous divide that exists between the rich and poor in education is a divide intensified by ethnic and racial prejudice. Throughout this book Kozol has two main goals. One is to show education “reformers” that their expression of excellence and choice shows very little concern for educational equality and opportunity, his second goal is to present the spirit and aspirations of urban school children through their own words. Kozol describes the landscape of his journey into the nation’s poorest urban schools. “The focus of this book is on the inner-city school; inevitably, therefore, I am describing classrooms in which almost all the children are black or Latino. But there are also poor and mainly white suburban districts and, of course, some desperately poor and very isolated rural districts” (p.74).
A central theme in Savage Inequalities is definitely the quality of education. According to Kozol, the quality of education varies, and explains why some regions in the U.S. perform better than others. He also notes that there are schools that lack basic equipment, educational materials, and proper playgrounds. All of these issues affect the performance of students and eventually their future. Another important theme in this book is economic inequality. He talks about how schools in low class districts offer low quality education due to lack of investment. Along with economic inequality racism and racial segregation are tied together. Institutional racism is public policies and social arrangements that appear to be neutral and fair on the surface but have a discriminatory result, outcome. Kozol finds evidence of this racism in many urban schools which receive low funding per student and lack the proper resources to provide a well-rounded education to the students.
Another form of racism that he mentions in the book is environmental racism which is a variation of institutional racism. In some urban schools and communities mentioned in the book, health hazards exist in different ways. For example, some communities don’t have easy access to trash, supermarkets, or even parks. He mentions in the book how “East St. Louis has some of the sickest children in America” due to the “sewage running in the streets, air that has been fouled by local plants, the high lead levels noted in the soil, poverty, lack of education, crime, dilapidated housing, insufficient health care, and unemployment” (p.20). All of these issues affect the performance of the students that barely have the chance to go to school.
As a result of being surrounded by death, decay, crime, and unsupportive people, students in inner-city schools tend to become hopeless which results in a high drop-out rate. Kozol interviews many students in inner-city schools who gave him their opinion on the quality of their education and what had happened classmates. A student named “Rosie speaks of sixth grade classmate who had babies and left school.” A boy named “Victor speaks of boys who left school during eighth grade” (p. 106) no one really knows where they ended up.
Kozol’s descriptions within the book go beyond comparisons of school facilities, educational programs, textbooks, lab equipment, gymnasium space, and extracurricular activities, to include the rawness of general environment in which urban poor school children live. “The ugliness of racial segregation adds its special injuries as well. It … renders life within these urban schools not merely grim but also desperate and often pathological” (p.74). One thing that I really liked about this book was that this book does not try to answer the difficult question of what is adequate funding for quality education. I like that it highlights the disparities in education that flow from district-based property tax financing coupled with state schemes that require a minimally adequate education.
I found it very interesting how Kozol’s comparisons of the resources available in wealthy and poor districts challenges the motives of the critics who believe that increasing school funding will make little difference to the educational performance of poor, inner-city children. For example, when he is talking about the financial needs of south Chicago schools, former Education Secretary William Bennet stated: “If the citizens of Chicago [want to] put more money in, they are free to do so. But you will not buy your way to better performance” (p. 78). It is important to see that all they look at is what money buys to understand the absurdity of the criticism. As a result of the inadequate funding, students are not simply being denied basic educational needs, but their future is also deeply affected due to the lack of funding. There is severe overcrowding in most schools, along with teacher salaries that are too low to attract good teachers.
Obviously, exposure to enriched curriculum offers more opportunity for children to succeed educationally and to compete in society. However, Kozol never passes this logic or suggests that a child who attends a public school in a poor area can overcome the barriers created by the lack of resources. Instead he dismisses the few efforts of principals, teachers, parents, or students that have successful outcomes. I’m not saying that extraordinary efforts should not be required in order for students to succeed in this educational system; but to ignore those efforts reduces the value of Kozol’s study of systematic disparities in educational resources.
When it comes to Kozol’s proposed solution of equal funding goes, it is not only absurd and unworkable, but also near impossible. Because school funding relies mostly on property taxes, those in charge won’t have it any other way. There was a time when education used to be a priority in Michigan, but unfortunately that is not the case anymore. It is almost as if the policy makers are more focused on funding for the military, prisons and supporting large corporations. Education became one of the less priorities because, if it was a priority, all schools in the U.S. would have equal funding and not one school would have to end up like the urban schools described by Kozol and those still exist today.
The writing style of the book is effective and not in any way manipulative. Kozol does a great job of sectioning the book based on the location he was visiting. Kozol describes the conditions of the urban schools and simply compares them to the suburban schools. The way he writes his opinions allows us to imagine the poor conditions that the urban schools had to endure, and allowed us to see the perfect conditions that were found in the suburban schools. I don’t believe he wrote this book as a way to manipulate but rather to educate the public on the inequality of school funding. He points out the differences between schools as a way to expose what is really going on with school financing. I believe he is simply describing the reality of public schools in america and it is the reader’s choice to decide what to believe from this information.
My pre-college education does not resemble Kozol’s inner city or suburban models of schooling, in a way it is right in the middle. I went to a charter school, Cesar Chavez Academy, located in Southwest Detroit. My school had classrooms, bathrooms, gymnasium, AP classes, diversity and technology resources. The only thing it didn’t have was an auditorium or a lab. Most of the students were Hispanic and very little Caucasians. I believe that was the case because of its location, mostly Hispanic lived around that area.
The proposal I would recommend to rectify the Savage Inequalities in public schools that Kozol describes is funding schools equally, and or at the very least provide them extra funding. I believe that if schools are funded equally or provided with extra funding based on their needs, then the inequality of school finance would not exist. A good proposal would be to offer busing to those who live in an urban area that way they have the opportunity to attend a suburban school. I think if the government is not going to fund schools that are in serious need of money, then families should be provided with more opportunities in order to help their family.
The result that Kozol illustrates, is a step to the system of education that prepares more affluent students for economic opportunity, while others sink in the cycles of poverty and despair. Although the book was first published in 1991, the issues he raised continue to affect American schools today. It will continue to raise issues until we do something to put an end to this divide. All of these problems and concern lead to inner-city children’s low levels of academic performance, high dropout rates, classroom discipline problems, and low levels of college attendance. To Kozol, the nationwide problem of high school dropouts is a result of society and this unequal educational system, not the lack of individual motivation. Kozol’s solution to the problem, is to simply spend more tax money on poor school children and in the inner-city school districts in order to equalize spending between school districts.
While it does not take away from the book’s overall value, Kozol’s descriptive approach to the problems of poor schools conveys a sense of hopelessness that is aggravated by the lack of proposed solutions. Savage Inequalities does a great job of portraying Kozol’s vision of urban decay and moral shame of innocent school children. It is not a dependable text on either educational theory or legal strategies to address the disparities caused by unjust school financing systems. This book provides a context for understanding why education advocacy must be included in the priorities of issues of concern to the legal services community.
My Reflection on Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s School
Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s School is a book written by Jonathan Kozol in the 1991 talked about the education difference between school in of different area and race. Education also play an important role in everyone’s life. Knowledge is power, and more education we have the more powerful we are. In this excerpt Kozol compared two school in the location East St. Louis and Rye, New York. The city East St. Louis has the 98 percent black that has no obstetrics services, trash is not collected regular, and is only few occupations available. Almost all family are low income family, and the city hall also poor that they need to sell the city hall and the fire station get money to maintain the city. The sewage is everywhere that they don’t even have money to fix. Then the city Rye is totally the opposite of East St. Louis, they have beautiful landscaped, people are busy working, and have good school, most people having wealthy life.
Irl Solomon’s history class in East St. Louis High School was taught by a man of 54-year-old that have taught in urban school for 30 years already. This history class is the highlight of the school, there is senior girls was pregnant it and there is no reason for them to not have a baby. They tell the truth at even they get a diploma in a ghetto school like it won’t help much when they get to the society. There is also student telling Kozol why are they skipping certain class. From what they had told him we know that this school is lack of almost everything. There is no water, equipment in the lab room, so students are skipping physics class. Typewriter doesn’t work so they don’t go to typing class, some students want to learn Latin, but there is no teacher teach it. And a 14-year-old girl have point out the irony of the name of school, this school was built for honored Martin Luther King, but is more like segregated school for his name.
A student named Jennifer from the Rey, New York high school that was originally from the Bronx. Her parent move to New York because the environment was bad at their old place. She thinks if the people live in the ghetto poor area didn’t want to come out, then there is no point for those students to take the bus to be educated in their good school. Basically, she is saying that if you want a good life then you must want it for yourself, so she thinks there is no use for the student from poor area to come if their parent didn’t care much about their education. She did agree that everyone should have a chance to take the same class, but she also think there is no benefit for her to pay more taxes to let the student in poor are to have better education.
School in East St Louis and Rye, New York have a clear contrast, one is hell and one is heaven. East St Louis school is lack of a lot of thing to give the student better education. Their school is old, dirty, no water, not enough teacher, a lot of class can’t function because lack of equipment. Even though they did build a new campus before, but is because the ceiling is too strong and the whole building collapse. Rye, New York high school have landscaped campus, beautiful auditorium, clean wall, comfortable and beautiful library, everything they have is way better than East St. Louis school. Basely is only white and Asian in Rye, New York school, have few Hispanic and only 1% or 2% are black. East St. Louis is only black.
Usually it takes a long time to read article, but this one is interesting and I was finish reading in a short amount of time. It makes me think a lot after reading this article, does this savage inequality still happening? I never thought of the city hall and sell the city hall and fire station for money, why isn’t there had any help? Where is the government at, are they like isolated, or is the racial discrimination? Especially I feel like the student like Jennifer and so cold hearted, she does make me feel like as long she is good, the other have nothing to do with her. Think about it more, this is how the society is now a day and before. Everyone is only care about themselves, I think this is one thing didn’t change much during the past 20 years and I don’t it will change much in the future. I mean is better now, that people can do much to help others, but it just seems the change is slow. The unfairness between poor area and rich area also didn’t changed much, the level difference will always be there, no matter how many years, because that is how society form it. A lot of poor area people didn’t get much education also because of lack of material and equipment. In rich area almost, everyone has the chance to get educated. More people donate money to these poor areas now, I hope in the future every child in this world can be educated.
Question of Education in Savage Inequalities
The United States of America has always been regarded as the land of opportunity. Other countries look to us and see how successful and prosperous we are, realize that this is the place where dreams come true. The place where a fantasy can become reality. Yet this is not the case. How can place so rich, be so poor? How can such a multicultural place be so segregated? Why is it that you can hand the world to one child, yet cheat another? Where did we go wrong? Does the future of our children lay solely on the amount of funds available? Is it that a child is only as successful as they want to be based on their motivation? Or does motivation matter at all, does the child ultimately become a product of their environment?
In Jonathan Kozol’s book Savage Inequalities, he speaks of children who are deprived of the right to a descent education. But how can this be the case. Is one school given more money than another? Funds for public schools come from property taxes. In wealthy communities where property values are generally higher more money is allocated, than in a poor communities with lower property values.
The poorer communities tend to tax themselves higher than wealthy communities, yet they are still not able to reach the same quality of education. Most of these poor communities spend their limited tax money on other costs those wealthy communities do not, at least not on the same scale. Such expenditures include the police and fire department and public health. Federal and state governments dispense funds to the poor communities in order to try and balance this financial gap. The funds aren’t enough to make the necessary changes. Because of this children are subjected to attend inadequate learning facilities. While on one hand wealthy children are given the luxury of smaller classrooms consisting of about 15 or 20 children and an abundance in text books. Children in less affluent communities are subjected to classrooms consisting of up to 45 children and a scarcity of textbooks. Members within the communities also have the opportunity to contribute money into their schools via fundraisers. This allows the schools to give their children the technology and materials needed. This in turn allows the school to use funds for other things such as renovations and simple luxuries like air conditioning and an advance curriculum. Yet some poor communities can not even afford to provide a playground or a lunch area for their students. The majority of these under privileged schools are attended by Black and Latino students, although underprivileged white schools do exist they are rare. And Predominately whites attend the majority of the privileged schools students. When people look at this they sometimes look at it as unfair and racist to a certain point.
These schools are for the most part based in urban communities where there is a high crime rate and a large number of uneducated civilians. These neighborhoods are home to many menial workers and unemployment, as well as welfare recipients. The lack of education and opportunities provided by the schools contribute to this cycle. Kozol describes these neighborhoods as slums,
M. Medina where violence and hopelessness is an everyday issue. C. Wright Mills speaks of the “social imagination” as “how unique historical circumstances of a particular society affect people and, at the same time how people affect history” (Henslin, pg. 19). How can someone live under these conditions and yet look to a brighter future? This who they are and what they know. How can they be expected to overcome barriers that have been in existence for years?
Children who are exposed to these conditions hesitate to want more than they already have.
In attending underprivileged establishments, with teachers who have no regards for there future, how can they be expected to want more for themselves? Kozol describes schools in which children attend unsupervised classrooms and where some classes are held in the school gymnasium. When children observe their environment and what opportunities are available to them and see no future they are easily disillusioned. When these underprivileged children compare their environment to others, and see the discrepancies, they are aware that they are at a disadvantage. How will they be able to compete at the same level when they receive inadequate materials? Teachers at these establishments are unwilling to do more than they have to, they aren’t willing to encourage the pupils. Students are expected to attend classrooms with no air conditioning or heating, as well as unsafe buildings. When children then are left with the choice of staying home or going to school. The majority choose to stay home why should they bother to make an effort when no one seems to make any regards for them? These children ultimately end up becoming part of the cycle. They ultimately drop out of school. And those that continue are not dedicate and only seem to fall behind. These children then become parts of the cycle; they become a product of their environment. They have become uneducated, menial workers. If not that they become dependent of the government that failed them.
The fact that these children are underprivileged and seem to go unaccounted for leads to leads to a decline in their motivation. How can they want more than what they know? They see the streets in which they live in infested with drugs, violence, death and decay. It’s as if they are living in a battle zone in their own community. Yet despite these factors and other barriers, there are those that whish for more and strive to achieve all they can. These are the students whom want to know what’s outside of their neighborhoods and want more than what they have. These are the children whom dedicated themselves to changing the cycle and destroy the barriers. Amidst all the conflicts and the odds against them, they seek to find the resources they need to overcome these obstacles. And for these students there are teachers whom are dedicated and put in extra effort to help them achieve the most. There are very few of these teachers who will put in twice the work for half the pay. But theses are the teachers who see the potential in these students.
Who you are and what you become is not an effect of the history you know. You make your own history. It’s all based on motivation. You’ve got to strive for all you can and set your own path. Al though there are obstacles may prevent students from accomplishing anything. All that is need is motivation. You’ve got to want more than you have to succeed. Some children are feed on a silver platter and others are not. These students have got to want more for themselves and for those to follow in order to change the cycle. Kozol spoke of children who opposed giving something they felt was rightfully theirs in order to equalize the discrepancies.
Although it seemed unfair they were reluctant to try and give up something of theirs in order to make it equal. Money matters to a degree, but its not all that is need. You can have everything you need, but the lack of motivation will set you behind. Children that grow up in an environment, which gives them all they need with out a struggle, assume that in the end things will be this way. But again a lack of motivation will keep them at a disadvantage. Although children in the underprivileged schools are at a disadvantage there are teachers that are willing to make the extra effort to help those students motivated enough to make a difference. People are never a product of their environment or the history they know. They have the power to overcome obstacles and make their own history. Those who say that can not achieve more than what they already have or know use this as an excuse for their lack of motivation and effort.
Methods of Persuasion Used by Kozol in Savage Inequalities
Writer, educator, and activist, Jonathan Kozol, in his famous novel, Savage Inequalities, recounts on the extensive problems in America’s schools. Kozol’s purpose was to bring attention to and evaluate the disparities in education between schools of different classes and races. These issues vary in potential danger in the hazardous conditions of the schools to the teacher to student ratio. Jonathan Kozol illustrates to his readers how these schools and the lives of the children who attend them are being utterly ignored by the rest of society. He is trying to prove that discrimination is still present in our modern schooling system and not a relic of the past as many people want to believe. He uses statistics, first-hand experiences, and the reader’s emotional response to expose and call attention to the savage inequalities in the American school system.
Kozol begins his work by bringing the reader into the inequalities of East St.Louis, Illinois. As he explains the situation the small, impoverished, and predominantly black city is in, readers may feel confused and in a state of disbelief. The city is concerningly crowded and polluted with hazardous substances. Kozol uses the reader’s emotional reaction to the city to intrigue the reader and then using that advantage to comparing the city to the schools of America. In one of the schools, early on in the book, Kozol enters a boy’s bathroom, “Four of the six toilets do not work. The toilets stalls, which are eaten away by red and brown corrosion, have no doors. The toilets have no seats. One has a rotted wooden stump. There are no paper towels and no soap. Near the door, there is a loop of wire with an empty toilet paper roll’ (Kozol 36). This concerning, saddening, and frankly disgusting description of the school’s bathroom strikes a chord within the reader’s heart. A feeling of privilege, guilt, or anger may arise. Kozol does an excellent job at evaluating this emotion and bringing it out of readers to achieve his purpose. He wants the audience to understand the teachers who are giving up their paycheck to get supplies for their classes. He wants the audience to see the children who have been through so much at such a young age and have not had the opportunities other children have because of where they grew up. He adopts a patient and logical tone. He approaches and builds his argument in this tone to calmly show the readers the blatant evidence he found. The tone also developed trust between him and his audience as he does not appear to accusatory or outraged.
Kozol clearly has the credentials and experience to write this work, but he further develops trust of knowledge with his readers. For one, he relays his personal experience as a teacher in a Boston school that didn’t have enough money to provide his class with a room. He then describes his journey to over thirty neighborhoods and schools from different states and social backgrounds. This builds credibility because it shows the things he observed were not isolated incidents or problems confined to one school or area. It also demonstrates that he has thoroughly studied both underprivileged schools and privileged schools. While the book was published in 1991, Jonathan Kozol, used research and personal experience from 1964 up to the final days of its release to better inform his audience. Kozol uses his vast experience investigating school to grabs the audience’s attention by comparing the worst schools in America to their schools in the same district who were better off. He questions the logic behind these inequalities and would then provided his audience with answers.
One logical fallacy he found and expanded upon was from his experience in East St. Louis. Even though the city had been repeatedly flooded by old and broken sewage pipes, their town did not receive the grant for a sewer improvement because the governor said, ‘What in the community is being done right?’ (Kozol 30). This is a logical error because the governor was not in the position to correctly decide whether or not the money was spent correctly. He did not take into account the other expenses these slums faced that other cities did not. The governor also spent a very small amount of time in these economically depressed areas to be informed on their needs.
While Kozol used mostly his personal experiences, he also used a plethora of secondary sources. He used various types of literature, facts, televised interviews, supreme court cases, local legal cases, and various laws. He wrote about one school on page 69 that, ‘The graduation rate is 25 percent. Of those who get to senior year, only 17 percent are in a college-preparation program. Twenty percent are in the general curriculum, while a stunning 63 percent are in vocational classes, which most often rule out a college education,’ (Kozol, 69). This plethora of fact to back up his claims and argument make his work stand out. The audience can’t argue with fact and they listen and understand it all the more.
Savage Inequalities and an Issue of Equal Oppurtunities for Education
As a society, we struggle to be above all other societies, but how can we do this if we are not offering the chance for every mind to achieve greatness? There is no study that says that a certain race or social class will give rise to prodigious minds. Yet, society appears to assume that such a study exists as it provides different opportunities for each social class and race. Although equal education cannot be established without restricting some and weighing down others, our society should strive to provide each child an equal opportunity for their education, so that they may have the freedom to choose. In order to become such a society, we must educate the ignorant of the oppression they have created and furthermore strive for equity so that there is an equality of educational opportunity for all.
In Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities, one student articulated “If you equalize the money, someone’s got to be short changed… do we want everyone to get a mediocre education” (156). Society cannot establish something as ideal as equal education for that would limit those who wish to learn more and burden those who wish to only know what is necessary. However, it would be shortsighted to say that students who are given the opportunity for better education would not value it (1991 Kozol). Perhaps students who have gone through years of, what Paulo Freire terms, banking education, being treated as an object rather than a human, would have a harder time with an education that values them as humans (2000 Freire). In reality, as seen from Kozol’s travels, children of poor backgrounds also have dreams of going to college and pursuing a higher education; it seems almost a pity that such bright students are given less simply for the color of their skin or the social class they live in (1991 Kozol). Nevertheless, some would argue that if everyone were given an equal opportunity for education then there would be no one to do the laborious, backbreaking jobs. However, this is a faulty argument because even if students are given the opportunity for education not everybody would pursue such an opportunity. Society is tasked with providing each child the chance to learn more, not necessarily to make each child take the chance for that is the freedom of choice for each child.
To provide an equal opportunity for education to each child, society must guarantee equity for all and understand that “equal funding for unequal needs is not equity” (1991 Kozol 66). To give students anything rather than to give them what is needed will not allow the students to flourish within their school environment. An example of equality over equity can be seen when two high schools were given an equal number of computers, but only one school needed the computers whereas the other required new buildings and restructuring; therefore, only one school truly benefitted (1991 Kozol). To create equal opportunity there must be equity for all that will in turn naturally become equality. At first the process may be seen as a liability for society since such an effort would be quite costly and timely, but the overall outcome would be a more educated society. If even the lower class is well-educated, then we will become closer to overcoming all other societies. Therefore, it is our duty to bestow the essentials needed by children to prosper in school for the sake of building our society into the best society.
Though it is quite simple to theorize methods of fixing this imbalance of opportunities in our society, for this imbalance to be solved we must let everyone within the society realize the existence of this imbalance. We are not necessarily in an extreme cycle of oppression as Freire details, but we are nonetheless still in a form of oppression. If there is no dialog between those who choose to remain ignorant and those who cannot articulate their sufferings, then this cycle of oppression cannot be broken. Kozol tries to initiate dialog by writing from the standpoint of the oppressed who, according to Kozol, are the children who do not have the freedom to exercise their rights to equal education (1991 Kozol). They are fundamentally forced to go to schools that have less opportunity and vigor that will in the end put them in a lower ground than children who are given brighter prospects. This oppression is ignored by many for why should they care if it is not their child who is oppressed. However, they do not realize as Freire says in Pedagogy of the Oppressed if they are not the oppressed then they are the oppressors. To be an oppressor is to deny one’s humanity, thus by choosing to ignore this oppression the people, in turn, are stripping their children of their humanity. However, contrary to what Freire says, to break from this cycle of oppression we must open the eyes of the oppressors to this oppression. For as Kozol found, children in poorer environments are already aware of the situation they are in, but they still hold hope that society will not fail them (1991 Kozol). Hence, we must let the oppressors see that their action of protecting their children are not only harming their children by shredding their humanity but also destroying the hopes and dreams of other children. Once the oppressors realize the consequences of their actions, then together both the oppressed and oppressors can strive to implement methods to ensure equity that will one day fix the imbalance of opportunities for the children.
Society should strive to give each child an equal opportunity for his or her education. However, we struggle to achieve this equality because the oppressed voice their opinions but the oppressors do not wish to hear of the oppression. If we can open the ears of the oppressors and let them hear the cries of the oppressed, then we will be closer to becoming an ideal society. For once dialogue is initiated, the breaking of the cycle of oppression can begin (2000 Freire). Once the oppressors have become educated of the oppression, together as a society we can try to give equity to children of all race and social class. Though it will take time and money to pursue this cause, in the end our society will benefit greatly from this and become one of the greatest societies. But this can only occur if we maintain the effort to bring equal opportunity of education to everyone.