This essay sample on Jonathan Kozol Savage Inequalities provides all necessary basic info on this matter, including the most common “for and against” arguments. Below are the introduction, body and conclusion parts of this essay.

The author of the book “Savage Inequalities” is Jonathan Kozol. The book explores the education system for children in the United States and exposes the extremes of wealth and poverty in America’s public school system and the tragic impact it has on the underprivileged children.

Kozol worked as a teacher in the Boston Public School during the early 1960s and witnessed the unfairness of the system towards the poor students of the community. He worked in the basement of an underfinanced, entirely black “freedom” school that had been set up in a Roxbury Church. It was here that Kozol directly experienced the dismal conditions in which children studied, due lack of state funds. The children were cramped in dirty corners and there were no study materials.

Their reading levels were not standard and moreover, there was extreme racial segregation. In the early nineties, he worked at Mott Haven in South Bronx, New York City – another impoverished neighborhood. He also saw that the children also suffered from inadequate medical care, lack of proper housing, unemployment and violence. Coming from this teaching background Jonathan Kozol does have a bias towards the poor and downtrodden and has through this book, he successfully exposes with examples and arguments the neglect of poor and black children in America.Author’s major hypothesis:Kozol unfolds the dark conditions in which poor black children study by narrating his experiences at East St.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: High School Dropouts

4.7 (348)

“ Amazing as always, gave her a week to finish a big assignment and came through way ahead of time. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Louis, Illinois, which as a 98 percent black population and dubbed by the press as “an inner city without an outer city”. The question Jonathan Kozol puts before his readers in ‘Savage Inequalities is whether America is providing equal opportunities in education and if yes, how can one explain the conditions of the children left behind in places such as East St. Louis, Ill., Chicago’s South Side, Camden and Jersey City, N.J., the slums of San Antonio, the South Bronx.His major finding is that children who attend schools in these places are cramped with 40 or 50 kids to a classroom, a new teacher every few weeks, little or no art, music, foreign language, or advanced science courses, and too few books to go around. These schools have just one counselor for every 700 students, holes in the roof, raw sewage in the basement and a record of 80% dropouts before graduation.  ”These are innocent children, after all,” Kozol writes in Savage Inequalities:  ”They have done nothing wrong. They have committed no crime. They are too young to have offended us in any way at all. One searches for some way to understand why a society as rich and, frequently, as generous as ours would leave these children in their penury and squalor for so long-and with so little public indignation”. Kozol shows that the normal response to lawsuits or legislative action in various places in America just forces states to spend equally on all school districts. This does not result in any solution because the richest school districts have four or five times more money to spend per student than the poorest. Moreover, there are politicians who claim that money has nothing to do with quality in education. Frustrated with the ground situation, Kozol raises emotion laden questions as ‘Is fairness less important to Americans today than in some earlier times? What do Americans believe about equality?’Quality of Evidence and Solutions:The problem is put forth before the readers in a very convincing manner and with lots of evidence including eye-witness accounts, statistics and interviews. The book is the result of two years of research as Jonathan Kozol visited America’s public schools, especially those in its large cities. He spoke with teachers, students, principals and superintendents, as well as with city officials, newspaper reporters and community leaders. His arguments are built mostly on direct experiences in East Saint Louis, poverty stricken sectors of New York and Chicago, in the ghettos of Washington D.C., and economically disenfranchised Camden, New Jersey. The author is meticulous in his accounts as he describes buildings, faculties, curricula, and school boards that are all but falling apart. He highlights the plight of the public school systems in poorer sections of America with Chicago’s New Trier High or Rye, New York’s Morris High, where students are allowed luxurious campuses with new auditoriums, student lounges, wood-paneled libraries brimming with books, extensive computer laboratories, and excellent teachers whose average salaries will soon reach $70,000. Kozol even points out that in these schools, students typically study foreign languages for five years, and approximately 40% of the student body enrolls in Advanced Placement course work. Kozol also supports his arguments with statistics. He says, in one of the wealthiest districts on New York’s Long Island, the per pupil spending amounts to $11,265 annually. Meanwhile, impoverished sectors of New York City see only $5,590 per student. The inclusion of such statistics and detailed accounts make the book very authentic and Kozol’s arguments evidence-based.Kozol also treats the issue from the legal viewpoint. He refers to the case when the Supreme Court held blacks and whites as “separate but equal” in Pleasy vs. Ferguson case, almost 100 years ago and to the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision in which the court found that segregated education was unconstitutional because it was inherently unequal.Kozol in fact takes the readers on a personal journey of exploration through public schools across the nation. Through the words and actions of children, adolescents, teachers and administrators, he helps us perceive the dreams and desires of children for a complete adulthood. While many of these dreams are similar across economic, racial, or gendered lines, we learn that the paths for reaching those futures are unevenly paved.Kozol also approaches the issue from various viewpoints. There is a psychiatrist who tells Kozol that white Americans are literally bored hearing about racial injustice. The psychiatrist explains: ”They see a slipshod, deviant nature-violence, lassitude, a reckless sexuality as if it were a character imprinted on black people”.  A school principal in the Bronx eloquently puts it: “if they do not give these children a sufficient education to lead healthy and productive lives, we will be their victims later on. We’ll pay the price someday–in violence, in economic costs”. “Gifted children,” says Dr. Lillian Parks, the superintendent of the city’s schools, “are everywhere in East St. Louis, but their gifts are lost to poverty and turmoil…They have no feeling of belonging to America . . . “Impact of the book:Personally, on reading this book, I was shocked to realize that such conditions exist in such a country like the United States, which the whole world looks up to. A civilized population is not one that would be practicing racial discrimination especially on children. The book also shows that there are in reality neglected school systems and much modernized school systems existing side by side in the United States. It is clear from Kozol’s arguments that funding is a major reason for the differences; Kozol is not convincing in his argument that money can solve the problem of education. There are many children from poor immigrants who have come up in life through sheer hard work. The United States offers them opportunities at all levels to come up as long as they are willing to work hard and think constructively. There are many celebrities who have come from poor black communities. Moreover, the issue of education should be seen more holistically and include other problems such as children’s exposure to social evils such as gang problems, drug addictions and domestic violence. Thus, the problem of education for poor children should be viewed from a socio-psychological angle rather than from an economic one.Apart from that I also find that the book is highly powerful and invokes the noblest of emotions with ease. I was most deeply touched by Kozol’s experience during Black History Month when dutiful references were sometimes made to “The Dream.” Martin Luther King’s vision was that of a nation in which black and white children went to school together. “We have a school…named for Dr. King,” said one 14 year-old girl, “The school is full of sewer water and the doors are locked with chains. Every student in that school is black. It’s like a terrible joke on history.”Moreover, Kozol helps the reader to make his own deductions by emotionally appealing to his judgment. Savage Inequalities is not full of statistics and officially documented pages. Rather it is rife with images that enable the reader to directly sense the “manner of being” of poor students in under-funded city schools. For example, in a passage Kozol (1992) describes the oppressive life conditions of an eight-year-old Chicago orphan: “He talks to himself and mumbles during class, but he is never offered psychiatric care or counseling. When he annoys his teacher, he is taken to the basement to be whipped. He isn’t the only child in the class who seems to understand that he is being ruined, but he is the child who has first captured my attention. His life is so hard and he is so small; and he is shy and still quite gentle. He has one gift: He draws delightful childish pictures, but the art instructor says he “muddles his paints.” She shreds his work in front of the class. Watching this, he stabs a pencil point into his hand”.He then talks about the same child sever years later: “Seven years later he is in the streets. He doesn’t use drugs. He is an adolescent alcoholic. …To affluent white shoppers he is the embodiment of evil. …Three years later I visit him in jail…He was jailed for murdering a white man in a wheelchair” (pp. 194—195). Kozol captures the spirit of the child, frustrated by the way society treats him, being transformed into a criminal one. The book is a must read for all citizens of the United States. It can help us understand the reasons of increasing violence and drug problems among the youth. As far as I have thought about Kozol’s arguments, I believe, changes in public education can be wrought by the adoption of a flexible way of understanding and defining community for purposes of schooling, the securing of the independence of all schools and teachers from government regulation of content, and the establishing of an equality of school choice for all families regardless of wealth.Conclusion:Savage Inequalities is about the lack of resources to make the America dream come true for every child. The book is primarily an appeal for fairness in American public education. It is a work that appeals to the educated public and government to do something to ensure that the life of every young person in the United States be afforded dignity, respect, and the hope for worthwhile future. Kozol shows clearly in his book “Savage Inequalities” that this can be achieved only if we are first of all ready as a nation to provide an equitable education for all American youth. While the book does not offer any concrete solutions for solving the problems in education faced by poor black children in America, the book does has the power to make people think. As Somerset Maugham says in his novel “Razor’s edge”: “the effect may be no greater than the ripple caused by a stone thrown in a pond, but one ripple causes another” and Kozol’s work is presently just that; a self-expanding ripple.

Cite this page

Jonathan Kozol Savage Inequalities. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Jonathan Kozol Savage Inequalities
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7