James Mac Avery
Savage Inequalities: Children In American Schools
Jonathan Kozol began a substitute teaching career in 1964 in a Boston public school. The school was extremely segregated, and was also very crowded. In fact it was so crowd Kozol’s fourth grade class did not even have a class room to work in. They had to share the auditorium with another fourth grade class, the school choir, and the kids rehearsing for the Christmas play. Needless to say their environment was not one meant for studying. Later that year Kozol moved to a new fourth grade class. The problem with this class was that they haven’t had a steady teacher since they ...view middle of the document...
He also did research on the lives of homeless people in several states. It wasn’t until 1988, that Kozol realized he missed being around schools, and school children. Around the end of 1988 he decided to start off on a new journey. He visited schools, and neighborhoods all over the country interviewing children. He visited a bunch of neighborhoods all over the country from New York to Texas. Throughout this two year journey Kozol’s mind was blown when he saw how much segregation was still in these public schools. He realized that the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which ruled segregation in schools unconstitutional, did not have much effect in these urban schools. None of the schools he visited had a lot of diversity; it was non-white students for the most part.
The first place Kozol visited was East St. Louis, Illinois, along the Mississippi river. East St. Louis is a town where the population is ninety eight percent black families. A good amount of those families earn less than eight thousand dollars a year, and three quarters of them are on well fare. The city looks terrible, most buildings are boarded up and not being used for anything. There are piles of trash every couple feet on the sidewalks ever since the trash pickup was stopped to try to save money. There is a train that runs through the city of East St. Louis that carries harmful chemicals, that spills and causes the city to have evacuation warnings that they cannot afford. The city was so poor they were struggling to keep their police and fire departments running. It was noted in 1989 that the city was actually in forty million dollars of debt. After the description of the city, the schools are exactly what you would expect them to be. Kozol visits East St. Louis High School, a low funded, overcrowded school. One of the first things he noticed going through the school was the bathrooms, mainly because he could smell them the second he stepped through the doors of the high school. When he looked at them he could not believe how unsanitary they were, and doubted they were even working. He saw that the teachers were not given the proper materials to do their jobs. Everything seemed out dated to Kozol, the science labs had broken tools, no lab tables and no class had good text books. Not only did they not have proper text books, as you may have thought they did not have enough text books for each student due to the fact they were so overcrowded and poor. Every class room was understaffed, having one teacher leading a class of thirty five or more students. Since these classes were understaffed and packed with kids, the teachers could not control anything the kids did, so they basically just gave up trying to teach. Most of these teachers were not completely qualified to teach a class for as long as they were, because most of them were substitutes just like Kozol was back in the sixties. Through Kozol’s studies he noticed that everything he saw, the bathrooms, lack of materials,...