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Savage Inequalities [Paperback]

Jonathan Kozol
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 26 1992
National Book Award-winning author Jonathan Kozol presents his shocking account of the American educational system in this stunning New York Times bestseller, which has sold more than 250,000 hardcover copies.

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From Publishers Weekly

Kozol believes that children from poor families are cheated out of a future by grossly underequipped, understaffed and underfunded schools in U.S. inner cities and less affluent suburbs. The schools he visited between 1988 and 1990--in burnt-out Camden, N.J., Washington, D.C., New York's South Bronx, Chicago's South Side, San Antonio, Tex., and East St. Louis, Mo., awash in toxic fumes--were "95 to 99 percent nonwhite." Kozol ( Death at an Early Age ) found that racial segregation has intensified since 1954. Even in the suburbs, he charges, the slotting of minority children into lower "tracks" sets up a differential, two-tier system that diminishes poor children's horizons and aspirations. He lets the pupils and teachers speak for themselves, uncovering "little islands of . . . energy and hope." This important, eye-opening report is a ringing indictment of the shameful neglect that has fostered a ghetto school system in America. 50,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB selections; author tour.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In 1988, Kozol, author of Death at an Early Age ( LJ 7/67) and the more recent Rachel and Her Children ( LJ 3/15/88), visited schools in over 30 neighborhoods, including East St. Louis, Harlem, the Bronx, Chicago, Jersey City, and San Antonio. In this account, he concludes that real integration has seriously declined and education for minorities and the poor has moved backwards by at least several decades. Shocked by the persistent segregation and bias in poorer neighborhoods, Kozol describes the garrison-like campuses located in high-crime areas, which often lack the most basic needs. Rooms with no heat, few supplies or texts, labs with no equipment or running water, sewer backups, fumes, and overwhelming fiscal shortages combine to create an appalling scene. This is raw stuff. Recommended for all libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/91 under the title These Young Lives: Still Separate, Still Unequal; Children in America's Schools .
- Annette V. Janes, Hamilton P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ast of anywhere" writes a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "often evokes the other side of the tracks. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Broken Promise May 20 2004
Jefferson once wrote, "This [bill] on education would [raise] the mass of the people to the high ground of moral respectability necessary to their own safety and to orderly government, and would [complete] the great object of qualifying them to secure the veritable aristoi for the trusts of government, to the exclusion of the pseudalists... I have great hope that some patriotic spirit will... call it up and make it the keystone of the arch of our government." He championed a public education system so that the people could have custody of their government. The great democracy would have a population where any single citizen would have the ability to take the reigns as they saw fit.
Kozol goes far to point out the disservice we are doing to Jefferson's idea and to the children of this country (U.S.A.). We are so wrapped up in "saving" money, that we are willing to sacrifice the children of the poor so that we can continue on in our own comfort. It has reached the point where some schools now teach "job skills" (typing, shop, etc.) to the children of the lower class. The only message this conveys is to tell them that this is all they're good for.
The book goes even further and examines every concievable excuse for this disparity. For those who believe that the current system of education in this country is fair and equitable, this book will show you that it is anything but.
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Jonathan Kozol started teaching at a segregated school in Boston in 1964. The students in his fourth grade class had to share a classroom with another class, a choir, and a drama group rehearsing for a play that was never performed. He was the 13th teacher they had in the year. After being fired for having his students read a poem that was not on a pre-approved list, he moved on to a wealthier school and found a much more accommodating system of education with smaller classes, better materials, and more innovation. In his study of underfunded schools in poor neighborhoods in East St. Louis, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and San Antonio, he found that little has changed.
This book is an eye opener as to the educational system in this country. Segregation is alive & well decades after Brown v. Board of Education. Most of the schools he visited are close to other wealthier (and predominately white) schools so he can really show the inequality between them. The poorer schools have limited to nonexistent materials and equipment. One school in New York (known simply as public school 261) conducts classes in an abandoned roller rink with no identification and not even a single encyclopedia set. One of the few exceptional teachers he found had to buy materials out of her pocket (pg. 47). The enormously high drop out rates at these schools are almost welcomed as they free up seats in the over-crowded classrooms (pp. 54 and 111). Most heartbreaking is that so many teachers and administrators he talked to seem to have given up on improving conditions and saving these kids. More than once, adults are quoted as dismissing the matter with "They're not going anywhere" (pp. 52 and 160).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant Observations Feb. 6 2004
Education is often a political football, being tossed around from one administration to the next as a bargaining chip with very little constructive reform actually coming about. The trouble the chronology of the students' academic life doesn't change while presidential and congressional administrations do. Jonathan Kozol set out to chronicle and put into words the sights and persons he witnessed and observed in six major school districts. His observations are so shocking and heart wrenching that they must instill in every reader a sense of disgust and despair and evoke poignant and intense questions such as "Does that actually happen in America?;" "How did things get so bad;" or "What can we do to fix this." Kozol is the proper observer; he tries as often as he can not to directly interfere and change the outcome of his observations. Reading this book will make each reader wonder what kind of divine providence kept him from becoming more involved more often.
Every person who is contemplating a career somewhere in the field of education needs to read this book at least once. The most idealistic people who have the highest and loftiest ambitions and a true burning desire to help children in need will want to read this graphic account of poverty and its correlation to education. Once they wipe away the tears, those potential educators will have a strengthened resolve. Perhaps their actions will enable Kozol to write a new work someday in the future chronicling the uplifting of children and schools.
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By rob
With any work of journalistic nonfiction, the reader must always remain skeptical of the author's agenda, however noble his argument might seem. An attempt must be made to read the book thoroughly, especially when the author laces his facts with his own theories and philosophical conclusions. Most importantly, however, the reader must be highly aware and must recognize clearly the rhetorical ability of the author, particularly if that author happens to be an experienced journalist, like our friend Jonathan Kozol.
Upon finishing Savage Inequalities, I was thoroughly depressed by the information that had been given to me. The hazardous learning environments represented in his analysis came as a complete shock and I found myself continually disgusted with the level of civility offered to these young children. I must admit, I was hooked for a while, completely involved in Kozol's argument and grossly interested in his methodology for explanation. But, I soon caught myself. His rhetorical use of dry, hyper-simplistic language and the overly repetitious nature of his argument brought about flashing caution signs in my mind. Where this technique of factual argumentation will often work with the poorly educated reader, the captivated social enthusiast, or the eager Kozol fan, it wasn't working for me. And when those yellow flags popped up, I knew there was something fishy with his use of language and repetition. Close inspection of the writing suggests he might be trying to focus the attention of the reader in a direction favorable to his thesis. In situations like these, I am quick to follow up on his information and on the other areas of the controversy that the author may have failed to mention.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars exposed!
this book shows that there is reasons for riots, protests, marches etc. people say that there is no reason for any of it. read this book. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004 by Tomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening
I'm a freshman in college and was completely unaware to the extent of the hellish conditions in these urban schools. This book is truly engrossing and should be read with tissues. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Unequal Schools in America
Kozol's book presents a world of horrible inequality among America's school children. He presents to the reader schools that are horrifying because they are poorly funded. Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2003 by Maggie Mcdowell
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that made me a teacher
I was a sophmore in college when I read this book---and now I'm looking for a job in DC public schools--and a lot of my inspiration came from this book. Read more
Published on June 13 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars A landmark book that every person should read
A book which anyone involved in the education system can read. With remarkable deftness and detail, Kozol presents the sad state of America's schools. Read more
Published on April 30 2003 by Lane Young
4.0 out of 5 stars A View from a Korean
It was around 11 years ago when I first visited America. During that time, I had a chance to visit an American school in Boston that my cousin was attending. Read more
Published on March 16 2003 by Phil Moon
1.0 out of 5 stars Money Isn't Everything
Kozol is a good reporter, but two years of teaching has not made him an authority on education. The conditions of poor schools are sad and I feel sorry that the physical... Read more
Published on March 4 2003 by Celeborn
3.0 out of 5 stars good, but too repetitious
In the book Savage Inequalities, Jonathan Kozol talks about the educational differences found in American schools and how significantly tragic these differences are. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2002 by Kathleen Boylan
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sad Truth
I loved reading Jonathan Kozol's book becasue he exposed the truths about the public school system. I have experinced public education in two drasticly different enviornments; one... Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2002 by marika crow
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