Before reading the book “Savage Inequalities” by Jonathan Kozol, I was highly unaware of how poor and neglected some schools are in America. I thought that every school in America had a great educational system and educators, but clearly I was mistaken. I knew that every school in America was not equal; there were obviously some schools that were better than others. However, upon reading “Savage Inequalities” I discovered that it was far worse than I actually knew. The book exposed me to racism/inequality in the educational system, and at some points I had no words for such disgust and mistreatment.
The section that had the most impact on me was chapter 3 “The Savage Inequalities of Public Education in New York”. The reason it impacted me the most was for several reasons, but there was a few that stood out the most. The first reason is the comments that were made by the wealthier students with better educations, and from the principles who ran the schools. An example was the principle from Riverdale Elementary school P.S. 24; he stated “I have to ask myself why there should be an elementary school in District 10 with fifteen hundred children. Why should there be an elementary school within a skating rink? Why should the Board of Ed allow this? This is not the way things should be.” I agree, it shouldn’t be like that, every child should have an equal opportunity to learn with the best education no matter what their race or ethnicity is. The fact that we are living in a nation where civil rights were established, and our schools are still segregated is truly upsetting and disturbing. However, the main reasons to why it is segregated are because of money and stereotypes. A comment from a student named Jennifer who attended a wealthy school in Rye, New York really ticked me off when Johnathan Kozol asked “Have we any obligations to poor people?” and she responded by saying “I don’t think the burden is on us, taxing the rich to help the poor we’d be getting nothing out of it. I don’t understand how it would make a better educational difference experience for me.” After reading that part I became infuriated, how could someone be so heartless and not care? Most of these children from this school also felt the same way, and of course they all came from money so it didn’t matter to them. To me that is what society is about suppressing the poor and uplifting the rich. One other stereotypical comment that was made by a student from Rye, New York that irritated me was “I don’t think that busing students from their ghetto, to a different school would do much good, you can take them out of the environment, but you can’t take the environment out of them. If someone grows up in the South Bronx, he’s not going to be prone to learn.” There are so many things wrong with that statement it is ridiculous. It was a racist and judgmental comment, and the student was not taught that in school, but from how he or she was raised. It shows that racism still exists within people’s homes, and it is being brought into the school system to keep children separated. Just because a child is raised in a poorer environment doesn’t mean he or she does not want to learn, and have a good education like every other child. The last sentence of chapter 3 really made me think when Johnathan Kozol says “How much would it really harm their children (children of Rye, New York) to compete in a fair race?” My thoughts where that it would be more competition for the rich children and it would be fair. The rich parents are threatened that possibly; poorer children could excel or do even better than the richer children.
I believe that many things could be done to improve this situation. The improvements would first need to begin in the community, and have everyone unite. Just like how people united for the civil rights movement, I think people should come together in their poor communities to fight for an equal education as rich communities receive. I think fundraisers to help raise money for these poor communities and school would also help a lot. Any amount of money would help just to buy new school supplies and books. It would make an impact on that child’s education. The most important idea I believe would help improve and better these child’s lives and their schools, would to get people more aware of what’s really going on in Americas school systems. The more people that know not all schools are equal and not every child has a chance at being successful, the better the chances something will be done to fix the corruption. Especially if people become aware that a form of segregation still exists, many people would become involved. I don’t think Jonathans Kozol’s book was slanted in anyway. I believe he wrote this book and did critical research. He probably hoped people would read this book and find out the truth about Americas educational system. This book was published in 1991 and a lot of his findings where in the late 80’s to the early 90’s, so hopefully a lot has changed since then. The educational system could have been improved since “Savage Inequalities”, but then again could have worsened. I think Kozol’s findings and his report are 100% correct for that time period, because civil rights was still freshly new for America. Now more people in America in the year 2014 have more of a mix of all ethnicities and race in schools, which makes it more equal.
I think I could work in an environment such as Camden only because my father has lives in Newark. Newark which is also another bad area in New Jersey, isn’t so bad to me because I’m always there and if you know how to act and where to go your fine. I’m also majoring an Early Childhood Education, and I love children. To better their education and surroundings I would do my best to help these kids in bad neighborhoods like Newark and Camden, they need somebody. If these children are not getting the positive attention and help at home or from their community, they need to get it in a safe environment from their school, teachers, and peers. Every child I believe deserves and equal opportunity no matter what, because anyone is capable of anything. If a child has a great teacher and a good education, it gives them that extra push to be something in life.