- Alisha Barnes
The Shame of the Nation tries to explain the troubles within America's inner-city schools. Jonathan Kozol--a writer, teacher, and activist--explores 60 different schools in order to see firsthand the physical and mental conditions of America's educational system. There, he finds an epidemic in which school systems allow some students to fall behind the curriculum. He looks at how the country went from separate but equal schools to desegregation and back to segregated schools.
He argues that the American educational system is leaving many students behind and allowing them to receive far less acceptable conditions than socioeconomically advantaged students enjoy. He also looks at the physical conditions of crumbling schools across the nation, teacher vacancies that cause kids to have subpar degrees of educational attainment, lack of space causing classrooms to be large and unmanageable, and the lack of stimulating lesson plans that place more emphasis on rote and drill learning--particularly in inner city schools. The conditions make it hard for students to focus on education, and parents are at a loss to find solutions. Even the young elementary students know that “the other kids” have better schools and better opportunities than they are given.
Kozol presents chilling anecdotes of his visits to public schools in which he experienced firsthand how America’s children are being left behind. It's a tough read--one in which one must fight back tears and anger at the conditions that some kids face. Jonathan Kozol gives a voice to the children that attend America’s forgotten schools.