Savage Inequalities

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Savage Inequalities: Essay on Chapters 1-4
Chris Hendrick
Mayer, PHIL 1200-100

In chapter one of Savage Inequalities, by Jonathan Kozol, he speaks of the disastrous state of East St. Louis. He describes in horrific detail, the condition that many school children from grades K-12 are forced to learn in. East St. Louis is one of the worst ghettos in Illinois, and Kozol goes into great detail about the multitude of problems facing the city and more importantly, the school children living there. The economy is too weak to pay for any type of necessity for the schools. Therefore, the school system is compromised. There is absolutely no money for proper supplies, teachers, programs, or even a proper building to teach in. Even worse is the home life of many of these children. Most do not have supportive parents that can take care of them, let alone push them to be academic. Kozol goes on to imply that these children are not born into a situation of equal opportunity. They are set up to fail from birth to fail. There are many contributing factors that make for an unfair condition. It seems to Kozol that racial segregation is the worse injustice committed by the local school board of East St. Louis. Without the immersion of lower-class blacks with upper-class whites in one school district there is no opportunity to stimulate the economy of East St. Louis. The children in East St. Louis are not just in a bad situation. They are in one that they cannot escape. They are born into a loosing battle for well-being. I agree with Kozol that this is a severe injustice towards the children of East St. Louis. Classism is the biggest hindrance in their life and it has been brought about by a government and by private industry that consider the people of East St. Louis expendable. A once integrated city of middleclass industry workers is now a segregated slump for chemical waste and poverty. Children have little to no opportunities to succeed even if they are gifted. Race should not be an indicator of success. The city neglects and ignores these children like the plague. The industrial corporations that surround the city dump poisonous chemical waste into the ground and rivers, and there is not enough money for the city to collect garbage. East St. Louis has turned into a toxic third world. This is no place for a child to grow up in. How can America call itself a land of opportunity when it allows places like East St. Louis to exist?

In chapter two, Kozol elaborates on the contrasts between private schools of North Lawndale and Southern Chicago compared to public schools. Much detail is given about the unequal privilege that students in suburban school districts have over students in public school districts. He speaks about the underlying racial prejudice that members of the white community and government have against the black students in many of Chicago’s public schools. There is a taboo associated with giving money to black students. Even the own Governor of Chicago was quoted on page 53 saying, “We can’t keep throwing money into a black hole.” While this may not have been intended as a slur, race is never far from the surface, explains the Chicago Tribune. The yearly spending on public schools from state, local, and federal funds is approximately 90,000 less than the spending on private suburban schools. Much of the funding for public schools comes from tax on local property. Therefore, poorer inner-city communities have remarkably lower funding than suburban communities. Students are assigned to public schools by district if they cannot afford private schools. Because private and well-off public schools are located in more well-off neighborhoods, inner-city black kids in Chicago have no chance of receiving an equal education to suburban white kids. The parentage also plays into the opportunities available to the student. Kozol...
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