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Jonathan Kozol “The Shame of Nation”: The Rationales of Apartheid Schooling Essay

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Updated: Feb 27th, 2022

Apartheid Schooling

The United States of America has always been declared to be tolerant and democratic, but the reality does not always match this definition. Racial segregation as one of the most prominent socio-economic inequities still presents today remains the issue that the government turns a blind eye to. The absence of discrimination written in a form of law appears to be enough for the government not to fight about ever-rising inequality in thousands of schools. The book The Shame of Nation by Jonathan Kozol highlights these issues through real-life stories and data combined into a comprehensive analysis. Kozol seeks an explanation of this devastating iniquity based on two main rationales: a dual American system on the governmental level and endemic underbudgeting of public schools on the local level.

A Dual System in American Public Education

Even in several decades after the famous Brown v. Board of Education case of a dismantled policy of de jure segregation and mandated integration in public schools, there is still a strong racial de facto segregation as present as ever. A dual “separate but equal” system of American education remains preserved with whites being superior and minorities being portrayed as content. The racial segregation of schoolchildren became a sensitive topic that the government seems to avoid or state that there is no problem at all. The problem gets masked with the “administration been telling minority parents that their child’s best chance of attending a good college is to be found in segregated public schools” (Kozol, 2005). Thus, the regime only continues to be used in thousands of schools.

The rationale for such a prominent inequity can also be considered media. The media remains highly reluctant to talk about such sensitive issues as racial segregation and bring the problem to light. Even the language used to report the situation is tied – they do not use the word “segregated” or misleadingly call them “diverse” (Kozol, 2005). “Linguistic sweeteners, semantic somersaults, and surrogate vocabularies are repeatedly employed” to form the social opinion and prevent dissatisfaction with lack of action on this forte. The lack of accurate narrative description becomes a serious social problem that misinterprets the real condition of minorities and segregated schools.

Underbudgeting of Public Schools

The other important rationale for the racial segregation at schools is economic – a lack of budget for proper educational conditions. The underprivileged minorities often have to study in old schools that only worsens the learning process. “Hundreds of thousands of our children are trying to learn in overcrowded, out-of-date and unsafe classrooms” (Kozol, 2005). Not only the conditions are not suitable for students to learn in, but these schools are often staffed by underqualified teachers, which does not allow for the proper education. The effect of economic turndown and undercutting state assistance leads to schools even closing libraries for lack of funds with which to pay librarians.

The white schools, on the other hand, do not typically suffer from a lack of budget spendings at all. Private and public funds generously donate money only to specific public schools that have predominantly white students. The parents in the public school in Greenwich Village “collected $46,000—two-thirds of it, remarkably, in just one night—to retain the extra teacher” in an average size class (Kozol, 2005). Such a sum of money, if donated to poorly-doing schools could have led to an appropriate teacher/student ratio and better learning conditions. The private subsidies are also commonly “collected under the table because parents sometimes feared that they would otherwise be forced to share these funds with other schools” (Kozol, 2005). Thus, the gap in budgets becomes apparent as one of the sources of segregation and discrimination.

Racial segregation at school and in society remains an important unresolved issue that needs to be addressed. The lack of governmental attempts to resolve the issue that is covered by the media’s silence and the lack of budgeting become the key factors of the gross socio-economic inequities. Kozol focuses on the severity of the situation in the Shame of the Nation throughout the chapters filled with stories and interviews. However, despite the given rationales of the disparities, Kozol remains sure that better conditions will come in the future.

Reference

Kozol, J. (2005). The shame of the nation: The restoration of apartheid schooling in America. Crown Publishers.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Jonathan Kozol “The Shame of Nation”: The Rationales of Apartheid Schooling." February 27, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/jonathan-kozol-the-shame-of-nation-the-rationales-of-apartheid-schooling/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Jonathan Kozol “The Shame of Nation”: The Rationales of Apartheid Schooling'. 27 February.

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