By Jonathan Kozol
In 1964, the author, Jonathan Kozol, is a young man who works as a teacher. Like many others at the time, the grade school where he teaches is of inferior quality, segregated, understaffed, and in poor physical condition. Kozol loses his first job as a teacher because he introduces children to some African American poetry that subtly questions the conditions of blacks in America. Years later, after holding many other socially conscious jobs, Kozol misses working with children. He decides to visit schools across America to see what has changed since those early days of reform. What he learns is horrible. Many schools have student bodies that are still separate and unequal. The remainder of the book details his observations over that year and suggests causes for this shocking state of affairs.
East St. Louis is a city in ruins with no doctors or hospitals that care for pregnant women, no garbage removal service and no escape from poverty. The buildings on the main street are abandoned and chemical plants pour pollution into the air. Because unemployment is so high, the city can't make money from tax revenues and has to close down city hall and fire service workers who do things like pump out the flooded sewers. Almost everyone here is black and desperately poor. The city is located below some bluffs where white, wealthier residents live. The sewage and factory runoff from these residents' homes pours into East St. Louis but the more wealthy citizens do not contribute any funds to cleaning up (Chapter 1). As I the past the wealthy are taking advantage of the situation and running the system to their benefit. Chapter two begins with observations author about the emotional and moral responsibility Americans have for each other. How can Americans allow this sort of tragedy to happen to innocent children? Kozol agrees that nobody can take the toxic...
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