Running head: MY PERSPECTIVES ON JONATHAN KOZOL
My Perspectives on Jonathan Kozol and Low Achievement in Education of African Americans Brent Covell
Granite State College
This paper will explore the findings and theories of Jonathan Kozol on inner city schools and African Americans pursuit of a quality education. I will outline how lower resource community’s struggle with funding for education as well as explore the struggles the black communities of the inner cities in the United States. This paper will also explain how far America has come regarding education in the last decade.
My Perspectives on Jonathan Kozol and Low Achievement in Education of African Americans Jonanthn Kozol is a Harvard graduate who holds a degree in English Literature. His interest in education came from his studies at Harvard and the impact social status had on students. As an educator, he wanted to explore how funding had an impact on education particularly on African American students in inner cities. Kozol believes the low achievement of African-Americans in the K through 5th grade reflects a number of continuing problems not just in American education but in American society. There are many black communities which remain disproportionately poor, uneducated or undereducated and unemployed. Children who grow up in these communities tend to have little ambition to achieve high standards due to a lack of positive role models and a lack of encouragement through education. They do not have as many opportunities to succeed. In America, education is viewed as the key to success. Most all immigrants and ethnic groups have eventually reached the conclusion that education is essential for the next generation and will give that generation a leg up on the ladder of success in American life. Many Americans believe this to be true, but blacks seem to have been unable to make this idea work as well as some groups have done in the past. Kozol explores the reasons for this problem is: a poor distribution of tax moneys for education, the perpetuation of poverty and some cultural conflict. These are all problems that are at their worst in inner city regions.
In my opinion, some of the basic problems for blacks in the educational system begin with access to educational resources—the schools of the inner city regions have fewer resources and are increasingly more dangerous. However, the problems are deeper than this and extend to the curriculum, the attitudes of teachers, and the institutional structure behind them. Kozol considers, once in school black students may encounter a form of institutionalized and unintentional racism in terms of the way the topics are presented. Often in terms understandable to children from the suburbs but coming from a very different social structure than is understood by inner city youth. Inner city youth also may be given history texts that ignore the contributions of their people, sociology texts with distorted perspectives on black life and other material that does not relate to their experiences or understanding of the world. Once a child has been exposed to such material he or she may begin to have a crisis of identity and also to withdraw from the learning experience that is creating it. In the long run society produces a generation that is alienated from the learning experience and from society itself. The benefits of an education miss such a generation, leaving the members uncertain of their social identity, unemployable, and increasingly angry.
Jonathan Kozol, in his book Savage Inequalities, takes the position that the structure of education in American society is based on a two-tiered system which leaves the poorer children behind in terms of the education they can receive. This is a new form of segregation in Kozol’s view, a segregation based on race that continues long...
References: Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities. New York: Harper, 1991
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