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The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of…

The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America (2005)

by Jonathan Kozol

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Although it isn’t that recent, this non-fiction book portrays the truth in about our replaced education system; from liberal education to culturally barren and robotic methods of instruction. Through the voices of teachers, children, and principals, this book acknowledges and applauds those teachers that are fighting against these new ways of education, but specifically attacks the practices that are forced upon the urban setting schools. Could be used in a senior or AP senior English class; book club/literature circles connecting to similar topics; text-to-self connections as a student/teacher; writing prompts etc. ( )
  Backus2 | Nov 20, 2013 |
Essential reading. Describes the process of de facto segregation in schooling, based on population, demographics, and funding. This problem goes back decades, and is self-perpetuating, feeding into itself due to the effects of poverty and crime and prejudice and how they all feed into each other.

How could all this happen, even after the de jure ban on segregation passed by Brown v. Board of Education?

-The schools are underfunded due to the system which is dependent upon property taxes, which also are derived from poorer neighborhoods. (See also, [b:Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools|25078|Savage Inequalities Children in America's Schools|Jonathan Kozol|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348278848s/25078.jpg|25833])

-This underfunding leads to a poor quality materials, decaying buildings, lack of cafeteria food or desks, etc.

-Misguided and overly strict education programs, which try and force all types of students into a standardized mold instead of allowing some variation for different career tracks

-A 'corporate' approach to education, making students think like 'managers', 'team-players', and being subservient to a larger authority or group

-A heavy and misguided focus on standardized testing, forcing students to prepare for the test above all. This is also related to the problem of underfunding, as the 'No Child Left Behind' debacle left students with bad scores without funding. Thus the problem is compounded and made worse.

And so forth. All of this leads to the segregation of schools by race and class, and a major cause of socioeconomic stratification in America. In other words, apartheid - not directly by law, but indirectly.

Would integration alone resolve this problem? Hardly. There are so many compounding factors that relying upon only one method would be woefully inadequate. But attacking the funding deficit would be a start. Or removing the over-regimented program of standardized testing. Or...

Not too long ago, I worked in my state senate, and talked to a Republican senator who was an advocate in doubling state funding for preschool programs. He was almost alone in his party in advocating this program, and he'd had almost no success in pushing it through over the past six years - arguably due to a climate of 'fiscal austerity' and unsubtle racist code phrases against any educational reform. When I asked him about why he pushed it and very few others did, he looked at me with a sigh of resignation and said "Preschoolers don't have lobbyists." ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
very interesting but absolutely no discussion about the crime and violence that is one reason that almost ALL parents don't want their kids educated in schools with poor kids.
great reader. ( )
  mahallett | Mar 3, 2013 |
I'm so angry! This book has been a real life changer for me, even though it was written several years ago. Suddenly, as an educator, I can't sit still. I can't let this passion pass without doing something! But what? How and where to start? Kozol believes that the only way we will be able to overcome the segregation that has settled back into our nation, including the "apartheid schools" of inner cities all over the country, is to begin a grass roots political movement that will force those in positions of leadership and legislative power to listen. I concur. Check out Education Action to learn how you can join in on the conversation. ( )
  katielder | Mar 1, 2012 |
This is an incredibly depressing book. It starts out with mind-numbing statistics that describe the facts that in many American cities and urban centers schools are effectively separate and unequal. In many urban centers the vast majority of students are comprised of minorities - generally ~90+% black and/or Hispanic. It describes the teaching, curriculum, and class control methods that are used in these schools. These methods are derived from corporate and/or trade school structures and do not instill either basic knowledge nor a love of learning. The book then describes how and why this has come to be and then takes a look at the prospects for this to change in the near future. Throughout, each is bleak.

Two main things are not addressed with this book, namely real and/or perceived violence and drugs rampant in poor urban schools systems - though I will be very quick to admit that these are not limited or unique to poor urban school systems.

Kozol makes an argument that integration is necessary and that where it has happened many of the problems that have been described are not as prevalent -- test scores increase, etc. Personally, I think this is one of only many things that need to happen, and further that why it works is more straightforward than he lets on.

In any case, this is an incredibly enlightening book, and one that is quite readable ... once I could bring myself to face it again. But I had a hard time picking this book up each time and often could only read a few pages at a time. ( )
  bfertig | Oct 25, 2011 |
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An analysis of urban education argues that conditions have worsened for inner-city children, looking at how liberal education is being replaced by high-stakes testing procedures, culturally barren and robotic methods of instruction, and harsh discipline.… (more)

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