Productivity Amidst Chaos?
The Tragedy of Urban Public Schools
Urban America has been deteriorating for decades. Plagued with poverty, crime, and unemployment, it is a wonder that educational institutions exist at all. The present state of urban public schools is quite disheartening. With issues to face such as inadequate facilities, widespread violence and rising drop out rates it is no longer a question of who will succeed, it is a question of who will survive. Urban schools have become institutions well skilled in the desensitizing of its students to the importance of the qualities that an education should embody: idealism, imagination and creativity. Author Jonathan Kozol suggests in Savage Inequalities that public schools promote nothing but inequalities among students. In actuality, finding the root of this problem is much more involved. The problems in urban public schools are as interconnected as a spider's intricate web. Every strand connects to another and so on, until the problem is not merely one segment of the web, but the web itself. Every problem facing urban public schools is intrinsically related to one another. In order to isolate the underlying issue it is necessary to define the one element broad enough to encompass the widest possible range of solutions. Kozol's analysis depicts inequality as the blanket that covers every single problem in urban schools. More realistically, inequality is merely a strand in the overall web of problems in which America has become entangled.
The most pressing issue in today's urban public school system is the decayed state of the environment in which students are forced to learn. The scenes are nightmarish, "One would not have thought that children in America would ever have to choose between a teacher or a playground or sufficient toilet paper" (Kozol 79). These schools are a disgrace to all involved: parents, teachers, administrators, taxpayers, the federal government itself.
The cause of this problem can be evaluated from three perspectives. First, there is an obvious lack of money circulating in the system. Secondly, there is no clearly defined role for students, parents, and teachers. Finally, there is an ever-present struggle with the issue of segregation in the schools themselves.
It is easy to assume that every problem can be immediately traced to a lack of funding. Society can not escape this reality. Money is indeed a necessary evil. It is because of the impoverished state of public schools, that everyone suffers.
"A chemistry teacher reports that he does not have beakers, water, Bunsen burners.
He uses a popcorn popper as a substitute for a Bunsen burner, and he cuts down
plastic soda bottles to make laboratory dishes" (Kozol 52).
Most schools lack supplies, however the situation is extreme. There are shortages of textbooks, hardly any lab materials and many bathrooms simply do not work; the building themselves are caving in.
Because there is no...