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The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  3,455 ratings  ·  236 reviews
Over the last 15 years, the state of inner-city public schools has been in a steep and continuing decline. Since the federal courts began dismantling the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, segregation of black children has reverted to its highest level since 1968. In many inner-city schools, a stick-and-carrot method of behavioral control traditionally used in ...more
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Published (first published September 13th 2004)
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There seems to be a tiny bit of backlash against Kozol swimming out there, including a really snotty article from someone I really admire usually (Sandra Tsing Loh). So I have to put my two cents in. I have seen with my own eyes the conditions he describes, so to anyone who "poo poohs" these deplorable physical conditions is living in lala land. Secondly, Tsing Loh actually disproves her own point. It's very nice that she has the tiiiiime, energy, education, internet connections, media connectio ...more
Essential reading. Describes the process of de facto segregation in schooling, based on population, demographics, and funding. This problem goes back decades, and is self-perpetuating, feeding into itself due to the effects of poverty and crime and prejudice and how they all feed into each other.

How could all this happen, even after the de jure ban on segregation passed by Brown v. Board of Education?

-The schools are underfunded due to the system which is dependent upon property taxes, which al
Given the amount of Kozol's work that I have read, I'm going to just write 1 review (for now). His works on poverty, homelessness, and adult illiteracy are also worth reading, but I am most impressed by his books on the absolutely atrocious state of American education. If you are going to choose just one of his books, I would suggest this one (his most recent indictment of racism and classism in our public schools) or Savage Inequalities (a scathing report on public school systems across the cou ...more
Crystal Belle

Although Kozol makes a compelling argument about how segregated inner city schools are in this nation, he implies that integration will automatically make urban schools better. My question for him is, how? Putting people of different backgrounds in one school does not guarantee that the school will automatically be better. My issue is, he critiques predominantly black/Hispanic schools for being too much of the same but he barely addresses how predominantly white schools are posing the same prob
This book is a good one, but it is a hard read and as a teacher who sees these issues first hand, it gets my blood boiling.

This book paints the very realistic picture of hour racism plays a huge role in contemporary education and how the powers that be push for it and allow it to thrive while insisting with fervor that the real problem is something totally different and they have the solution (and it includes more testing)

For those who don't live it or see it, Kozol's books are huge eye openers.
Apr 14, 2011 Carly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carly by: ALL educators and policy makers
Shelves: grad-school, 2011
This is an AMAZING book regarding education in the US. Although written in 2005, I can't say that I have hope that all of the problems he shines light on has suddenly disappeared.

This book challenges the notion that schools are integrated, even though Brown vs Board of Education was....over 60 years ago. In fact, as Kozol finds, if you go to a school named for one of the civil rights leaders that fought for integration and desegregation (Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr)'ll likely find
Greg Sedlacek
A compelling look at the inequality between Urban and Suburban Public Schools. It helps a great deal to explain the continuing racial divides in our country today.
Joe Iacovino
There is certainly an undeniable injustice afflicting children in this country. Minorities were the focus of this book and there is no doubt the inequities discussed exist. I am on board. I get it. My only real concern is the book offers little in the realm of how to fix the problems highlighted as well as overlooking the fact that poverty doesn't see color. Now, that's not to say minorities aren't disproportionately affected by poverty but rather we mustn't ignore rural areas where the wealth i ...more
This book had been on my list forever. While I think Kozol is an amazing story teller (very graphic, visual and detailed), I found I couldn't even finish this book. The points he was making about our completely dysfunctional educational system rang very true but I found myself getting so depressed. I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for him to get to some discussion of solutions. After more than 200 pages of just more of the same, I just gave up : (
A very good, and very depressing, account of the state of segregation in America's schools today (or about 10 years ago when this book was written). If you think segregation ended with Brown v. Board of Education 60 years ago, this book will really open your eyes. I spent my school years in what I realize now were very good suburban schools. That I, and most of my classmates (even the dumb ones), were going to college was never even in question. But this experience is not shared by many children ...more
This book describes, in detail, a situation that we all know is happening in this country, but most refuse to acknowledge. Mr. Kozol and the educators mentioned in this book are very brave for sharing the struggles of the American student in what is obviously a very broken system.
The preeminent writer on education policy takes a good, scolding look at the re-segregation of America's schools, and what's become of them in the wake of the Bush Administration. There were points where I couldn't put it down.
Ahmad Nazeri
Kozol is an amazing writer and this book will give you a glimpse of how much the education system has (or hasn't) changed since Brown v. Board. A great read if you are interested in education.

but necessary. kozol is a modern prophet- a truth teller in the time of 'no child left behind'. a must read for the socially conscious, the parent, or educator.
Rebekah ODell
Amazing! This is seriously a must-read for everyone. It is staggering to see what is really happening in our urban school systems.
Monica Fastenau
Read the full review here:

I love that Kozol touches on popular myths about diversity, segregation, and quality education. He talks about the fact that schools in which over 90% of students are black or Hispanic are mistakenly referred to as “diverse.” He also discusses how many well-meaning parents ask whether you can “really buy your way to better education,” yet they spend thousands of dollars a year sending their own kids to private schools, etc. In ma
Education is very limited in American society. Man schools in America are mainly separated by race because many highly paid schools contain mostly Caucasian students (98%) and only 2% African American students.
The reason behind these percentages are based on the amount of income that the student’s parents makes and basically the Caucasian student’s parents have a higher income (the majority) while the parents of other ethnicities make a much lower income. The amount of income that each parent m
Abbi Dion
“During the 1990s, physical conditions in some buildings had become so dangerous that a principal at one Bronx school, which had been condemned in 1989 but nonetheless continued to be used, was forced to order that the building’s windows not be cleaned because the frames were rotted and glass panes were falling in the street, while at another school the principal had to have the windows bolted shut for the same reason. These were not years of economic crisis in New York. This was a period in whi ...more
This book went a long way towards convincing me that there is not racially integrated education in urban America. Many people think the battle was won after Brown v. Board of Education, but evidence shows that we're still working from Plessy v. Ferguson. This illustrates my chief complaint about the book. The first 2/3 or so of the book read to me like a laundry list of ways urban public schools suffer. After a bit I wanted to read something about history or efforts to change this state. These t ...more
Mary Anne
Jun 24, 2012 Mary Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary Anne by: Deanna
This is my first time reading Kozol, though my colleague has recommended him at least a couple of times before now. As a result, I've also borrowed Savage Inequities to read at some point.

I was angry by page 10, and my anger never really fizzled out by the end of this book. He had me on board for at least ninety percent of this book. Discussions about education in America make me so angry for many reasons. (And I need to calm down.) When I'm being rational, I realize that people are trying to do
Finishing up this book, I have very mixed feelings towards it. On the one hand, this is a topic I feel passionately about. I think that it is important that we make sure that the entire American public be able to function and have equal access and social mobility. It is a common goal that I think anyone could agree upon, and one that may indeed need the urgency with which Kozol compels us that may break beyond the point of rationality and into the realm of morality. On the other, however, I real ...more
In overwhelming and painful detail Jonathan Kozol shows how we have returned to segregated education in the United States. Whereas Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education was designed to eradicate segregated schools, through residential segregation, creative school district lining, and inequitable school funding policies, we have a more segregated system today than before the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decisison. He interviews children, teachers, administrators, and scholars & visits schools ac ...more
This book makes me, and hopefully you, very angry...He shows us how we make sure that Black and the double whammy of Black and poor, live in a society no different then the worst of apartheid S.A. If we admit that early education is critical to later success than how can we let generations of poor children have a system that spends less in some cases than a tenth of what is spent on rich children by our supposedly classless government?? Our country is the only industrialized one that funds educa ...more
Kevin J. Rogers
Educator, writer and activist Jonathan Kozol won the National Book Award in 1968 for Death at an Early Age, his memoir detailing his experiences as a teacher in the Boston Public School system. Since then he has published a series of books both describing the inequalities and inequities of public education in America and advocating specific strategies for change. In all of his work there is an undertone of dismay. But in Shame of the Nation, his scathing indictment of the resegregation of our pu ...more
Laura (booksnob)
An excellent book about the restoration of segregation in America'schools. WE have taken a backwards step in resegregating our minorities in schools and neighborhoods. It is a proven fact that schools with higher minorities receive less federal and state funding per pupil than school's that contain the dominant culture group. Schools are inherently unequal, and I and others need to demand that the government do something about it. "All Children can learn" We hear that every day from elected offi ...more
Daniel S
“It’s like we’re being hidden,” said a fifteen-year-old girl named Isabel I met some years ago in Harlem, in attempting to explain to me the ways in which she and her classmates understood the racial segregation of their neighborhoods and schools. “It’s as if you have been put in a garbage where, if they don’t have room for something but aren’t sure if they should throw it out, they put it there where they don’t need to think of it again.”(28)

“They tell us of a world where hope must be construct
The Shame of the Nation does an excellent job of laying out the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that poor, minority neighborhoods are shafted by the public school system. They are given overcrowded buildings that are falling down; saddled with the worst and least experienced teachers; and viciously punished by an "accountability" system that has led to dubious, patronizing, corporate, and even militaristic practices that would never be tolerated in a middle-class school.

But maybe the most importan
I am a huge fan of Kozol's work, though his works are always something I approach with a bit of trepidation due to the effect they have on me, the reader. I had had this particular book on my "to-read" list for quite a while but thought it appropriate to read in the spring of 2010 as my hometown an the place where I have always called home, Raleigh, NC, is currently making headlines because of their school busing policy. I grew up in Wake County and was blessed to go to a wonderful magnet school ...more
I am a big fan of Kozol....I have been reading him since college, and had this on the to-read shelf for a long time. It did not disappoint. Kozol maintains his skilled writing as he exposes the racial inequities in American public schooling. What I appreciate most about Kozol is not his excellent research, his clarity of writing, or his honesty, but it is his deep love and affection for the children he meets and the passion he has for good education.

The book is heartbreaking because it puts into
Yutai Liao
This book has been a mixed bag.

On the one hand he presents powerful evidence for the continuation of segregation and systematic racism in the country, and sounds a clarion call for a new movement to once again push things forward as the Civil RIghts movement was able in Brown v Board of Education.

On the other hand, it was hard to read someone so completely dismissive of the education reform movement. It would seem that to him, any work not done in the name of full integration and equal funding
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  • Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom
  • Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life
  • The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education
  • Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
  • Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform
  • We Can't Teach What We Don't Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools
  • "Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity
  • Experience and Education
  • Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from High School Students
  • The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future
  • Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade
  • We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change
  • American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass
  • Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement
  • What Does It Mean to Be Well Educated?: And More Essays on Standards, Grading, and Other Follies
  • Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America
  • The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School
  • The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children
Jonathan Kozol is a non-fiction writer, educator, and activist best known for his work towards reforming American public schools. Upon graduating from Harvard, he received a Rhodes scholarship. After returning to the United States, Kozol became a teacher in the Boston Public Schools, until he was fired for teaching a Langston Hughes poem. Kozol has held two Guggenheim Fellowships, has twice been a ...more
More about Jonathan Kozol...
Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation Letters to a Young Teacher Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America Ordinary Resurrections

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“There is something deeply hypocritical in a society that holds an inner-city child only eight years old "accountable" for her performance on a high-stakes standardized exam but does not hold the high officials of our government accountable for robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years before.” 34 likes
“I have been criticized throughout the course of my career for placing too much faith in the reliability of children's narratives; but I have almost always found that children are a great deal more reliable in telling us what actually goes on in public school than many of the adult experts who develop policies that shape their destinies.” 24 likes
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