An end to inequality Breaking down the walls of apartheid education in America

Jonathan Kozol

Book - 2024

"An eloquent and passionate call for educational reparations, from the New York Times bestselling author"--

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2nd Floor New Shelf 379.26/Kozol (NEW SHELF) Due Apr 22, 2024
  • Foreword
  • To the Reader
  • 1. Two Degrees of Separation
  • 2. Varieties of Tyranny
  • 3. Learned Helplessness
  • 4. Ironies and Desolation
  • 5. Models of the Possible
  • 6. Culture and Identity
  • 7. Education Without Fear
  • 8. Batter Down the Walls
  • 9. A Letter to the Future
  • Afterword: Author's Q and A
  • Acknowledgements
  • Endnotes
  • Index
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this vigorous polemic, National Book Award winner Kozol (Death at an Early Age) condemns the subjugation of Black and Latino elementary school children to an education that stifles their imagination, and he forcefully calls for busing and desegregation as the solution. Drawing on visits to classrooms across the U.S. and years of teaching experience, Kozol asserts that struggling urban schools are characterized by "a pressure-cooker ethos of tightly scripted training, an often morbid code of discipline, and coerced uniformity." Such a pedagogy, according to Kozol, "inculcates unquestioning conformity" and strips learning of both its joy and the "act of exploration." Most troubling to Kozol is that these "crudely autocratic" pedagogic practices are often accompanied by police presence in the schools and the use of physical punishment. Dismantling these "walls of apartheid" requires the government to invest heavily in racially integrated schooling, he argues: "millions of our children across lines of class and race in beautifully and culturally expansive and richly funded classrooms." Kozol's vivid classroom scenes depict how mandated and rigidly controlled teaching practices negatively impact students' education, as well as teachers' ability to treat their students with respect. The result is an impassioned indictment of elementary school education in the U.S. and a cri de cœur for racial equity. (Mar.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A celebrated educational thinker takes stock of segregation in American schools. Kozol, a former public school teacher, has been writing about America's educational system for more than five decades, and he's the author of such classics as the National Book Award--winning Death at an Early Age and Savage Inequalities. Although Brown v. Board of Education theoretically ended segregation, the author points out that the practice "continues unabated and is presently at its highest level since the early 1990s." Students who attend predominantly Black and Latine schools must contend with a host of unnecessary disciplinary tactics, including being forbidden to ask questions in class, getting sent to "isolation rooms" for minor infractions, and even getting arrested at ages as young as 6. None of these tactics, writes Kozol, affect their white peers. The culture of these schools isn't the only problem: Many of their buildings are bastions of "squalor and decrepitude," with unusable bathrooms and shockingly dangerous levels of lead exposure. Ever since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, schools serving Black and brown students have tended to prioritize testing over content. This is particularly true in language arts, where districts eschew novels for bite-sized passages and ban books that "foster critical thinking or address the conflicts that divide us, based on gender, class, and race." Citing the work of Nikole Hannah-Jones, as well as his own experience teaching for a school integration program, Kozol convincingly argues that integration is the only way to address "the achievement gap between Black and white students." The book thoroughly displays the author's eloquence, conviction, expertise, and attention to detail. Most impressive is Kozol's ability to draw connections among disparate events to illustrate the underlying systems driving the nation's greatest inequities. An inspired and insightful analysis of race-based challenges in the American school system. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.