The Shame of the Nation

Published 26 Dec 2016


The following paper comprises of a book review. The name of the book is “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America”, written by Jonathan Kozol. The book covers the idea about the inequalities that exist between the rich and the underprivileged schools. Like in “Savage Inequalities”, this book also covers the mistreatment with the poor and how the rich are favored over education.

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He compares the fact that how the rich r given all the facilities in the school, which will help their children get a better and secured future. In this book he gives various examples to support all the facts that he saw throughout his investigation on this particular topic. In his investigation, he went through the culture that is being followed in the schools of all classes. The book resulted to be interesting as well as disturbing to know the reality of the discrimination facts that are being faced by the lower class of children.


Kozol’s this book is a result of several visits to approximately 60 public schools. He observed the fact that the condition of the children in the town, have worsen in the last 50 years. The conditions continued to get worse after the Supreme Court in the sight verdict of Brown v. Board of Education took apart the earlier guidelines of de jure isolated schools and their self-importance of independent but identical. He told that the rich and more affluent whiter families are till leaving there cities to get settled in the outer edges. The suburbs were occupied by the wealthier white families leaving behind the minorities who comprise those left in the public school system. On comparing the facts in his book, at one point, he quoted Gary Orfield of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In the book, Kozol observes the conditions of isolation in the urban school system. Kozol moreover spotted the absence of separation in the schools which are located in these urban communities. He emphasizes and specially points out the isolation in the today’s residents of the New York City by comparing them with that of 1960’s (Jonathan Kozol, 2005). He illustrated the educational differences between the urban and suburban population. He says that these differences start from the beginning of the formal education. A huge mainstream of the underserved trivial inhabitants are not capable to achieve admittance to playgroup educational prospects.

Adding to this, even the ratio of amount that was spent on a child for the duration of the schooling years is considerably different. He compared this face by giving a comparison between New York City and the suburban schools. He summarized this analysis by giving an average amount that was $8,000 in the New York City and for the suburban schools, it increased up to $18,000. Due to this discrimination, a negative impact can affect the position of the state testing, which is usually started at the early age till the third grade.

Further more, Kozol studies the policies of the urban school. He names those strategies as “one size fits all” in the book. These strategies are driven by the state testing. They result in curiosity in the children, with respect to what level they stand on. These policies create differences in the children. What basically these policies tell is this that they pide the children with labels, as in Level One being the lowest and Level five being the highest. Due to this policy, the children are further pided in to categories and they use this in a descriptive manner. For example “She is on Level one and he is going down on to level 3″ (Jonathan Kozol, 2005).

Kozol further examines the growing segregation between the children who belong to the privileged class and the children who are in minority. From past few years, the upgraded schools in New York have become a bit more available to the intelligent and confident parents who have the idea that the registration to these schools should be booked at least an year before. These applications include the knowledge of the contract. These contracts are based on educational philosophy which is not possible for a lower class parents to read and understand. The struggle for the finest, most highly praised schools is competitive and marginal parents are frequently not ready or ignorant of such antagonism (Jonathan Kozol, 2005).

In the book, Kozol tells an example of a school in New York. He quotes that school as “Roosevelt School District”. An application was prepared to suspend the broke, commonly marginal region and attract the minute quantity of apprentices into the neighboring school area, East Meadow, with by and large white apprentice inpiduals. This application went all the way through originally but was gathered with anger by the East Meadow group of people and was ultimately upturned. Kozol observes this as an overlooked “chance to finish the schooling apartheid of a little neighborhood of offspring” (Jonathan Kozol, 2005).


This book is infuriatingly compelling. Almost all of us know the extent to which inequality exists between wealthy and poor public schools. We are all aware of the fact that wealthier schools have better science equipment and greater number of field trips and their parent volunteers as classroom aids. In comparison a poorer school gets outdated books, high turnover of teachers and classes that are over burdened.

Hearing Kozol’s cold depictions of rats, mold, hand signal that represented Nazis, bathrooms which were locked most of the time, closed libraries, skipped lunches, and electives in hairdressing rather than placement in advance is totally outrageous!!It can not possibly be true! How do the education officials allow such a thing? Why doesn’t it lead to riots? This is not the first book that’s been written on the topic by Kozol, so these accusations are not a new thing. And yet nothing is being done about it!

Evidently our society has played a part in signifying to the lower-income (especially minorities) youth that they are not important. These schools create angry and suppressed young people which would explain why so many of them are in jail! What is the point of being productive to the society, when the society does not need you and has repeatedly displayed that you can never be accepted or successful? When children are shown that they are not worthy and will never get quality education, why should they care, why should they not start playing by someone else’s rules?

Conservatives complain the moral attack on families is the worst problem which is facing the problem. In reality the main problem facing our community is the attack on children!!! These attacks come in many forms ranging from denying them of quality education to deprivation of food. Maybe if the students had the feeling of being nourished and valued, problems like teen pregnancy, crime, drugs, violence, and crime wouldn’t be this common. Try and imagine how much better the world would be if children got the right tools the need! Visualize previously disenfranchised youth attempting to improve their neighborhood, going to work, starting businesses, creating coalitions, looking for answers, and developing innovative services and products. The country would be a different place had we worked as a team, mentoring and encouraging children to be successful.

The current policy adopted that neglects children is proving far too expensive for us. It leads us to point fingers and search for solutions for the poverty epidemic facing us today. The solution though is not really what the current government is emphasizing on a means of holding schools “accountable.”After years where students have been deprived of the basic resources and substitute teachers and classes that are overcrowded with children, all of a sudden we want them to “score well or else?”. It’s like sending your troops to war without proper training and supplies.

America is supposed to be progressing in the integration of schools and the community. People argue that we no longer need affirmative action as we have already moved beyond the crisis. But the book points out that little progress, if any, has been made in the decades since Brown vs. Board of Education. It’s actually even worse. We need someone young like Rosa Park who can stand up for what is right and voice out the fact that the classes are more like prison and they deserve better. What happened to the young civil disobedient? I guess that’s not taught in schools anymore.


Kozol, Jonathan. (2005). The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. Publisher: Crown

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