Minorities in the Education System
Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol is a book based on the American education system and its failures as based on various case studies of small and marginalized communities within the inner city states. Kozol observed that in many communities and localities under his observation, minorities such as blacks and Hispanics were at a disadvantage due to the fact that they were situated in the less affluent areas within the state of Chicago for example leaving them with the shorter end of the stick as far as the allocation of resources was concerned. He noticed that the tiered system of education that had existed in the country helped promote this further to the point that it prepared more affluent students for economic opportunities while leaving others in recurring cycles of poverty and despair.
The physical division between communities creates a psychological and political dissection and ends up with people being detached with each other’s problems. The mentioned scenario is evident in the first chapter where Kozol presents the case study of East St. Louis, Illinois, an impoverished, predominantly Black city described as ‘’ the most distressed small city in America” by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city is beset with a host of economic issues, crime, and public concerns such as public health on which the author focuses. He observes that the city is situated in a basin amidst a series of chemical plants. The sewage runoff sweeps into the ground, collecting in the soil beneath nearby community playgrounds in school with no regard for public safety. Poor infrastructure and lack of finances lead to minorities in the education system studying in schools that are overcrowded, polluted, and at most times without hope.
School systems, as Kozol observes, contribute a lot to the future success of students that pass through them. He argues that children who access good quality education from a young age are far more likely to succeed in life than those who lack the mentioned amenity. The association of a good school with excellent prospects for learners has promoted the ‘’magnet schools’’ system, which refers to parents competing to send children to better-performing schools. This system only serves to lower the quality of an already distressed school system by allowing the privileged few to escape it. Kozol argues for making public school education affordable and improving its quality by enhancing the curriculum to suit the needs of the existing industry or job market. The curriculum for the financially deprived schools within segregated communities tends to focus on developing job skills at the expense of formal academic colleges further taking away the choices of the affected students.
Winthrop (2018) notes that a majority of the institutions that offer quality education are found in affluent neighbourhoods and are less likely to reverse such trends. The wealthy districts pay more taxes than the poor due to the value of their real estate property hence schools in affluent areas have more resources. However, this organizational approach cannot be copied in the poor districts as the real estate in these places is not valuable enough to generate meaningful taxes. Racism and segregation are tied into economic inequality whereby one segment of the population is allocated more resources and feedback channels for its projects than the other due to its projected importance in the society in which lives. This is more of a political ideology than one rooted in logic and practicality and can be remedied if only the concerned stakeholders in the education sector increase their commitment to their duties as educators.
Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools. New York: Crown Pub, 1991. Print.
Winthrop, Rebecca. Barton, A, & McGinnis, E.(2018). Leapfrogging Inequality.