Review of Kozol's Article on Urban Public Schools

Review of Kozol's Article on Urban Public Schools

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Review of Kozol's Article on Urban Public Schools

The first element of Kozol’s article is the reality of urban public schools and the isolation of their students. Jonathan Kozol illustrates a grim reality about the unequal attention given to urban and suburban schools. The article explains how Kozol specifically looks at how they reflect institutional discrimination and the failure to address the needs of minority children. The article notes that these are the inequalities of the title, seen in the way schools in predominantly white neighborhoods are more likely to have sufficient funding, while schools in poor and minority neighborhoods do not. Kozol shows everyone involved in the education system that public schools are still separate and, therefore, still unequal. Suburban schools, which are primarily made up of white students, are given a far superior better education than urban schools. These urban schools are primarily made up of Hispanics and African Americans.
The second is the concern over segregation and the effect it has on society. Mr. Kozol provides his own socially conscious and very informative view of the issues facing the children and educators in this poverty ravaged neighborhood. Those forces controlling public schools, Kozol points out, are the same ones perpetuating inequity and suffering elsewhere; pedagogic styles and shapes may change, but the basic parameters and purposes remain the same: desensitization, selective information, predetermined "options," indoctrination. In theory, the decision should have meant the end of school segregation, but in fact its legacy has proven far more muddled. While the principle of affirmative action under the trendy code word ''diversity'' has brought unparalleled integration into higher education, the military and corporate America, the sort of local school districts that Brown supposedly addressed have rarely become meaningfully integrated. In some respects, the black poor are more hopelessly concentrated in failing urban schools than ever, cut off not only from whites but from the flourishing black middle class. Kozol describes schools run almost like factories or prisons in grim detail. According to Kozol, US Schools are quite quickly becoming functionally segregated. Kozol lists the demographics of a slew of public schools in the states, named after prominent civil rights activists, whose classrooms are upwards of 97% black and Hispanic — in some cases despite being in neighborhoods that are predominantly white. It has been over 50 years since Brown vs. Board of Education. It is sad to read about the state of things today.

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The final element is the idea of equal access to good education for any child no matter race or social status. Kozol discusses the problems of this area--economic, social, the crime rate--and shows how the schools relate to these concerns. He describes the different classes and the few white faces seen in these classes. Kozol also uses statistics to show how communities are wrongfully denying the fact that their schools are not integrated. Actually it does make you realise that there's a lot to be said for having a (openly acknowledged) class system and an aristocracy

The genre of Kozol’s artifact is a news article in Harper’s magazine. The magazine is the oldest general interest monthly in circulation in America. It is a politically driven societal magazine. Kozol wrote this article for the lawmakers to address the issues that needed attention in the school system. The secondary audience would then be the school officials so their eyes can be opened to what is wrong with the system. In this piece Kozol uses many statistics about segregated schools and the financial hardships that they face. He also uses references to historical court cases. The ones specific are those that have made strides to change school guidelines. Kozol brings his personal reflections into the piece to add to the honest and genuine feel of the work. Kozol has a vivid caring tone that underlies his entire piece. As well it has a soft dynamic to it. He is obviously completely consumed in his work, and, as well, devoted to the children of America. His sympathy seeps through his piece. He seems genuinely concerned for the well being of the children in these poor schools.

Maker Part A
Jonathan Kozol was born in Boston in September of 1936 into a traditional middle-class Jewish family. Kozol attended Harvard and later Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He graduated with a degree in English literature. In 1964 Jonathan Kozol left his comfortable surroundings in Cambridge, Massachusetts to begin work as a teacher in low-income, predominately black Roxbury. Mr. Kozol was fired for reading a Langston Hughes poem to his fourth grade students. Kozol has made a practice of leaving comfortable surroundings for more challenging, impoverished areas. He has devoted the subsequent four decades of his life to issues of education and social justice in America. Kozol received the 1968 National Book Award in Science, Philosophy, and Religion. Kozol currently lives with his dog Sweetie Pie in a 200 year-old farmhouse in Byfield, Massachusetts.

Maker Part B
I knew nothing of Mr. Kozol before reading this piece but found myself exhilarated by him throughout this reading. He is a single man striving to transform segregation in public schools. He struck me as the type of individual that shows compassion towards others more than he cares about himself. He showed this by staying in the homeless shelter all winter just because he was captivated by the mothers and their children. He seems to indeed care for equality and wants to help attain these goals. The article shows the side to poverty that most of the privileged class in America does not get to see. He dedicated his life to making a change for others. I see him as a hero. Kozol has been an inspiration for change. I can only pray that someday we can have the unified public school system he dreams of.

Historical Context
On May 18, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that changed American society by nullifying the old Jim Crow law in the South. This ruling allowed schools to be “separate but equal” with regard to race. This decision was unanimous. The enforcement of this ruling was met with great resistance from local and state governments. Several civil rights leaders paid heavy prices to ensure that the local and state governments abided by it. The Civil Rights Act in 1964 that prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Title VI of the Act states, "No person in the United States shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." This act made history. The Jim Crow South barely attempted integration for a full decade, and whenever the courts or the federal government tried to compel compliance, America saw an epic confrontation -- at Little Rock Central High School, at the University of Mississippi, in Ruby Bridges' one-girl class in New Orleans, with George Wallace keeping his promise to block the schoolhouse door. It is still talked about today. In 1974, the Equal Educational Opportunity Act (EEOA) mandating that no state shall deny equal education opportunity to any individual.
The purpose of this piece is to strive to light the fire of change in others. He wishes to bring to light the amount of segregation and racial inequality that is still present in our country. At the same time I think he is realistic in knowing that change cannot happen overnight and he wants people to first see that there is a problem so we can all work together toward that change. He wants people to take small steps toward making a unified school system that shares the desire for equal education for all students no matter their race or social standing.

Effect Part A
This article had a strong effect on me. I have looked deep into my relationship with my children and their education. I have had a blind eye to the administration and how unequal even the governmental school system is. I feel strongly that he administrations of school boards need to look and see that nothing has changed, and things need to be changed for the positive. I feel that I need to step up and voice my thoughts on better education rather than bailouts for the car companies. Fix our education across the country.

Effect Part B

1) How do you believe this article would be viewed after Obama takes office?
2) If a woman were to take office, do you think that any change could overcome that of Obama and the race factor? Explain why or why not.
3) How has previous segregation affected you in your life since you have left elementary and high school?
4) Why do you think the government is willing to bail out the car industry, yet not increase educational benefits or schools?
5) How could improving a teacher’s salary show enough incentive to improve the quality in the public school system?
1) Euphemism- an inoffensive word or phrase substituted for one considered offensive or upsetting
2) Eviscerate - to deprive of vital or essential parts
3) Stentorian- very loud or powerful in sound
4) Didactic- intended for instruction; instructive or intending to teach a moral lesson
5) Montessori- a method of teaching young children that stresses the development of initiative and natural abilities
6) Paradoxical- an opinion or statement contrary to commonly accepted opinion
7) Neophyte- a beginner or novice
8) Apartheid- (formerly) the official government policy of racial segregation for both political and economic discrimination against non-whites
9) Acquiescence- the act or condition of acquiescing or giving tacit assent; agreement or consent by silence or without objection
10) Hortatory- giving strong encouragement, courage, confidence, or hope
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