Friday, April 10, 2020

Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities Essays - Education Reform

Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities The new millennium brings many advances in our children's 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. Kozol's 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 children's 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 Kozol's 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