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Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools Paperback – June 12, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kozol believes that children from poor families are cheated out of a future by grossly underequipped, understaffed and underfunded schools in U.S. inner cities and less affluent suburbs. The schools he visited between 1988 and 1990--in burnt-out Camden, N.J., Washington, D.C., New York's South Bronx, Chicago's South Side, San Antonio, Tex., and East St. Louis, Mo., awash in toxic fumes--were "95 to 99 percent nonwhite." Kozol ( Death at an Early Age ) found that racial segregation has intensified since 1954. Even in the suburbs, he charges, the slotting of minority children into lower "tracks" sets up a differential, two-tier system that diminishes poor children's horizons and aspirations. He lets the pupils and teachers speak for themselves, uncovering "little islands of . . . energy and hope." This important, eye-opening report is a ringing indictment of the shameful neglect that has fostered a ghetto school system in America. 50,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB selections; author tour.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In 1988, Kozol, author of Death at an Early Age ( LJ 7/67) and the more recent Rachel and Her Children ( LJ 3/15/88), visited schools in over 30 neighborhoods, including East St. Louis, Harlem, the Bronx, Chicago, Jersey City, and San Antonio. In this account, he concludes that real integration has seriously declined and education for minorities and the poor has moved backwards by at least several decades. Shocked by the persistent segregation and bias in poorer neighborhoods, Kozol describes the garrison-like campuses located in high-crime areas, which often lack the most basic needs. Rooms with no heat, few supplies or texts, labs with no equipment or running water, sewer backups, fumes, and overwhelming fiscal shortages combine to create an appalling scene. This is raw stuff. Recommended for all libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/91 under the title These Young Lives: Still Separate, Still Unequal; Children in America's Schools .
- Annette V. Janes, Hamilton P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: HarpPeren; Reprint edition (June 12, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060974990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060974992
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Kozol has been awarded the National Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. His book Savage Inequalities was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and became a national bestseller.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen A. Bates on February 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Anyone believing that America is the land of opportunity for our young people should read this book. Anyone convinced that America is not the land of opportunity for our young people, but wants statistics to back this belief, should read this book too. In chapter after chapter Kozol dispels the myth that all children in this country are provided with an equal opportunity for education. The stark contrast he provides between neighboring schools in some of our countries major cities is haunting and unbelievable. The conditions that some of our children face day after day, and year after year would break the spirits of even the strongest adults. For example: The children of Martin Luther King Junior High in East St. Louis have experienced repeated school closing due to sewage back-ups. Students in DuSable High School's auto mechanics class have waited 16 weeks before learning something so basic as changing a tire because of no instruction. "On an average morning in Chicago, 5,700 children in 190 classrooms come to school to find they have no teacher."(p. 52) At Goudy Elementary, in Chicago, there are two working bathrooms for 700 children and toilet paper and paper towels are rationed. In New York City's Morris High the black boards are so badly cracked that teachers are afraid to let students write on them, there are holes in the floors of classrooms, plaster falls from the walls, and when it rains waterfalls make their way down six flights of stairs. In Public School 261 in District 10 in New York 1300 elementary students attend school in a converted roller skating rink. The school's capacity is 900 and there are no windows, which Kozol describes as creating feelings of asphyxiation.Read more ›
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45 of 54 people found the following review helpful By L. Rephann on November 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
i couldn't put this book down when i started reading it. each essay, which covers a particular city and school system, points out things wrong with public education in the USA, and who's getting the shaft: KIDS. some of the essays are jaw-dropping. i would've never believed it was so bad out there, but moreso, i didn't understand or even begin to see the politics involved in public education at each and every level. education may be a major political issue at the national level, but as it seeps down into district, local politics, that's where the mismanagement, corruption, bloat, and simple lack of care become most astonishing. as a teacher in the NYC public school system, most of what i read in kozol's book, i have come to see (i read the book before i started teaching) in real life: 30 books for 180+ students; roaches and rats in the classrooms; inept and careless administrators; rampant truancy and disaffection (but can you blame the kids? they are often left at home while the parent--usually one--works two or more jobs). the problems are severe and the solutions, you'd think, would be just as severe. but nothing changes and teachers are left in the middle, blamed by both administrators and parents. public education in this country needs to be seriouly revamped, but according to Kozol, and my own views and what i've seen, it's unlikely anything will change for URBAN education until racism and inequality are also addressed.
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany Pearson on December 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Jonathan Kozol Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools Crown Publishers, 1992 I extremely enjoyed reading Jonathan Kozol's book Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools. To say that it is an invaluable tool to all educators, parents, and anyone concerned about the welfare of children, is vastly an understatement. This book provides the reader with graphic details about the gross realities of the public school system, and focuses not only on revealing the problem, but why the problem has occurred and what can be done about it. Chapter by chaper, Kozol brings to light the harsh realities of what children face everyday in different parts of the United States. His purpose for writing this book, I believe, was to inform the public these realities, because many people have no idea they even exist. The details he includes are almost unbelievable that our school system would allow these situations to exist. This book differs from the mainstream ideas that everyone receives a fair, quality education in the United States. I found it difficult to read, knowing that students faced these problems everyday. Problems such as not enough textbooks, no teacher, no classroom, or no supplies to start the year off with. Yet I could not put the book down. The truth hits the reader with such a force because the book is a gripping tale unlike anything heard before. This book reveals the tragedy of an inadequate school system, and contrasts the extreme differences between the wealthy and the poor. At first, reading through the book, I found it extremely offensive that a writer would expose these systems without feeling the pressure to do something about it. And then it hit me: he did do something.Read more ›
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By mwreview on March 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Jonathan Kozol started teaching at a segregated school in Boston in 1964. The students in his fourth grade class had to share a classroom with another class, a choir, and a drama group rehearsing for a play that was never performed. He was the 13th teacher they had in the year. After being fired for having his students read a poem that was not on a pre-approved list, he moved on to a wealthier school and found a much more accommodating system of education with smaller classes, better materials, and more innovation. In his study of underfunded schools in poor neighborhoods in East St. Louis, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and San Antonio, he found that little has changed.
This book is an eye opener as to the educational system in this country. Segregation is alive & well decades after Brown v. Board of Education. Most of the schools he visited are close to other wealthier (and predominately white) schools so he can really show the inequality between them. The poorer schools have limited to nonexistent materials and equipment. One school in New York (known simply as public school 261) conducts classes in an abandoned roller rink with no identification and not even a single encyclopedia set. One of the few exceptional teachers he found had to buy materials out of her pocket (pg. 47). The enormously high drop out rates at these schools are almost welcomed as they free up seats in the over-crowded classrooms (pp. 54 and 111). Most heartbreaking is that so many teachers and administrators he talked to seem to have given up on improving conditions and saving these kids. More than once, adults are quoted as dismissing the matter with "They're not going anywhere" (pp. 52 and 160).
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