In Jonathan Kozol’s book, The Shame of the Nation, we see that segregation in our public schools still exists today; especially in the bigger cities. The writing of this book is Jonathans attempt to alleviate this problem by bringing to light, through documenting the statistics and seriousness of the segregation and re-segregation in our nation’s schools while exploring the implications of this sad affair. He has witnessed, first hand, the appalling conditions that many of our youth have been subjected to. To describe some of these schools as having poor facilities would be an understatement. In some of the instances we see several classes and groups all sharing a single gymnasium floor; having to conduct their activities simultaneously. In others we see severe water leakage; causing run offs down stairwells and barrels being placed on the floor to catch the leaking water. He describes how teachers come and go as if through a revolving door. At one school in the Bronx a student, whom he knows, had four different teachers in a row during one year. The preceding year, 1996, twenty eight members of the faculty, out of fifty, had never taught before and half of them either quit or were fired the following year. This same student describes how a lot of time was spent forming and waiting in lines outside of the classroom. She would spend as much as thirty minutes at a time waiting to go to lunch or recess.
Many of the students aren’t even aware about how much things are different elsewhere. Desegregation had been making progress between the fifties and late eighties but has now receded back to levels of three decades ago. We are seeing fewer blacks in majority white schools as three fourths black and Latino students attend predominantly minority schools; also known as apartheid schools which contain 99 to 100 percent nonwhite students. The states containing the most segregated schools for black students are thought to be New York, Michigan, Illinois and California.
A major problem regarding this issue is our resistance to even acknowledge that this is taking place. Ideas about calling this segregation “separate but equal” or “neighborhood schools, targeted schools, priority schools, etc.” has never been shown to be effective means of dealing with the issue. I am convinced that this problem of apartheid schooling in America is not something to be overlooked.
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