The importance of public education has been emphasized in American history numerous times. Despite having many great public schools in this country, America has one of the worst public education systems among the advanced nations of the world. Equality in education was one of many issues that the Civil Rights movement fought for. This inequality in the education, after about 25 years of the Civil Rights movement, led Jonathan Kozol to make general public aware of this problem in his book Savage Inequalities. In this book, Kozol tries to explain and prove the need for reform in the current education system.
Kozol, who is deeply concerned about the education of all Americans, sets out to visit schools around the country. His observations are eye opening for most people living in prosperous parts of the country. Kozol tries to explain why different school districts, and different schools within each district, have unequal resources for their students. He explains how ethnicity and economic status of people effect their children’s education. He focuses mainly on the African Americans, and a little on Mexican Americans in his analysis of the American education system. He calls for a reform in the education system, a new system in which all children will be given equal opportunities in education and no distinction shall be made based on race, religion, or ethnicity.
Kozol is able to convince his readers to some extent that there is a lot of segregation in American public schools by including personal interviews with people, who have been effected by this segregation. Just stating an eyewitness account wouldn’t have been as convincing as an account by the people who are directly affected by the problem. Kozol’s interviews with school and district administrators and teachers of areas with extremely low resources make the reader better understand these people have to survive in.
Kozol also interviews numerous children because they are the ones who are being directly effected by the segregation.
One of the things that Kozol fails to accomplish in his book is including a wide variety of people and regions. One of the qualities of a great writer is to make the reader feel included in the text. Kozol restrains himself to the eastern United States, making the readers of his book in the West and Mid-West excluded. California has the worst education system within the United States, but Kozol doesn’t spend even a page on Californian public schools. Kozol talks about separation of districts and schools within those districts, but he himself creates a separation between different regions of the United States by not mentioning them in his book.
Also, he makes people of other ethnicities excluded from his attention. Even though African Americans and Mexican Americans have been the biggest targets for segregation, other ethnic minorities in this country have also suffered the same fate. His inability to anticipate the number of readers of different ethnicities than African Americans and Mexican Americans has made the book ineffective to these other minorities. These minorities feel segregated as they are not included in discussion of most issues related to race, partly because they haven’t suffered as much as African Americans and Mexican Americans,
Kozol uses a lot of statistics in order to convince his readers that there is a lot of segregation in American public schools. His use of so many statistics would have been appropriate if he hadn’t used inductive reasoning in the book. Kozol states the message that he wanted to convey at the end of the book, “All of our children ought to be allowed a stake in the enormous richness of America” (233). The readers get lost in the book because they do not know why the author is making them read so many statistics. If Kozol had stated his intention for writing the book, his thesis, at the beginning of the book, then his readers would have been able to better associate with his extensive use of statistics. Since he states his thesis at the end, he seems to be overusing the statistics throughout the book.
There are many important issue like inequality in education that general public have to be made aware of. Concerned individuals like Jonathan Kozol do a lot of research on certain subjects, which is well appreciated. The most important part of their research is combing it and presenting it to the public. No matter how convincing a researcher’s research is, if he is not able to present it well, it loses its effect. This is precisely the situation with Kozol, who despite doing extensive research, failed to present it well in his book Savage Inequalities. His use of statistics throughout the book works against his intension of persuading his readers because the reader reads these aimlessly throughout the book. He also fails to include people of all ethnicities and regions of the United States in his book, giving the feeling of being excluded to many of his readers. Because of all these reasons, I think Savage Inequalities is not very effective and convincing book.
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