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Jonathon Kozol's "Shame Of The Nation" And The Re Segregation Of America's Schools

1669 words - 7 pages

The American education system today stands as a testament to what seems to have evolved into the new American approach to inequality: indifference and disregard. Few ever question why inner city schools suffer from such terrible conditions, or why schools filled with a majority of minority students offer classes such as sewing instead of Advanced Placement. The opposition to these types of injustices seen in the 1960's is gone, instead the American public just accepts it with an attitude of apathy as "the way it is". This attitude is what Jonathan Kozol argues against in his book The Shame of the Nation. As someone who has worked with and around public school kids for four decades he has found the state of the education system, and the lack of any initiative to fix it, disheartening. He is writing this book to try and give some insight into what is really going on in the public school system and hopefully change the public opinion on it, and as such, cannot overstate his case enough.Many minority children today are faced with a higher likelihood of challenges in their home lives which in turn make focusing on school even tougher, when not already being in a poor learning environment. The general level of instability for many of these children has the most profound influence on their lives and futures. With inner-city children in poor neighborhoods having much higher odds of inadequate or often changing housing, absentee parents, little to no medical care, and other inconsistent securities in their daily lives education can become much tougher to focus on even when it is adequate. With the education institutions in inner cities being as Kozol describes however, children can't even consider that part of their lives as a safe haven from other problems when roofs leak, mold is growing on the walls, and schools can't provide the basic necessities. Even worse is that teachers should be role models to these children to look up to when they are growing up, but even though many are qualified and attentive Kozol talks of there being such a high turnover of teachers in these school systems that children often times don't even get to know their teachers, and teachers aren't able to get to know their students.Even after reading this text I do still believe that education is still the most useful tool to help children escape from poverty. Education however must be presented in a way in order to help these children excel and succeed in order for it to help them escape their conditions. One girl Kozol interviewed described the conditions of her Harlem high school "like being hidden", which can't be the case if education is going to be a successful escape route in these children's lives. This also goes for another girl who said that she wanted to take Advanced Placement classes in order to try and get into college, but her school didn't offer them so she ended up having to take hair dressing which was meant to prepare students for jobs right out of high school...

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