An interesting look at the science behind decision making with a excellent collection of engaging anecdotes. Not as finely woven as Gladwell's books,...moreAn interesting look at the science behind decision making with a excellent collection of engaging anecdotes. Not as finely woven as Gladwell's books, but still well structured. Appreciated the NPR/Radiolab shout out at the end. (less)
Flush" spirals children through the ages from the time before toilet paper to today's self flushing potties. Along the way kids will discover some dow...moreFlush" spirals children through the ages from the time before toilet paper to today's self flushing potties. Along the way kids will discover some downright disgusting dirt on the the story behind doody. They'll learn why kings and queen avoid castle moats, why umbrellas were good on a medieval sunny day, and how differently the business is done depending on where you live.
As you might have already guessed, this scoop on poop is filled with some very amusing and colorful illustrations that please the eye if not the senses. Told entirely in verse, the clever rhymes and rhythmic pace will make the contents of this history a little easier to digest. There is just this one caveat to parents though, "Flush" might make an excellent bathroom reader but should probably steer clear of the other coffee table books to avoid contamination.(less)
In the land of plenty, it seems improbable that so many schools throughout our country could go without the basic necessities required for even an "adequate" education. And yet, as Kozol takes us on a field trip to urban classrooms across America, we find children forced to share discarded textbooks, perform schoolwork with non-existent materials, use dilapidated and often dangerous facilities, and learn from a merry-go-round of substitute teachers with little or no investment in their students' futures. Contrasted against the bleak and miserable conditions are the schools within elite city pockets or neighboring suburbs, schools in many cases just a stone throw away, where resources abound and the quality of education is considerably higher. These savage inequalities are sad reminders that not only can such disparity exist, but that separate and unequal public school systems can be found co-existing side by side.
Beyond simply describing material inequities, Kozol explores issues such as federal court rulings, state funding, and local administrative decisions that have either indirectly impacted school equality or have been directly responsible for creating an uneven playing field for millions of students. What surprises and often enrages the reader throughout this book are some of the arguments made for refusing to take action to raise the level of education in these neglected school districts; arguments such as those made by business leaders in the community who consider children of urban schools as poor "economic investments," arguments made by political leaders against providing urban schools with equitable resources, or an argument made by a Supreme Court Justice who states that education "is not among the rights afforded explicit protection under our Federal Constitution."
Despite Kozol's fluid writing and engaging subject matter, his work is a difficult read because of the emotions his material stirs and the feeling that to continue reading is to accept a social responsibility that would simply be easier to ignore. And yet, this is all the more reason that a book like Savage Inequalities needs to be read, for it is one of those rare books that harshly awakens the conscience from its peaceful slumber and refuses to let it sleep again.(less)
Jonathon Kozol, National Book Award winning author of Savage Inequalities, once again visits the topic of inequity in America’s public schools. Focusi...moreJonathon Kozol, National Book Award winning author of Savage Inequalities, once again visits the topic of inequity in America’s public schools. Focusing this time on totalitarian teaching methods in urban districts and near apartheid levels of segregation, Kozol examines the growing divide between the haves and have-nots of our public schools and the waning hopes that the levels of desegregation and opportunity once envisioned in former times will one day be achieved.
A shameful and tragic irony that surfaces immediately in Kozol’s work, is that to find some of the most segregated and unequal schools, one need only to look for those named after the leaders who fought so hard to against such conditions; leaders such as Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, and Fannie Lou Hamer. In states such as Michigan, New York, Illinois, and California, once “bastions of progressive thinking” and homes for politically charged social movements, can now be found these same schools where rates of segregation are the highest in the nation.
The disrepair, unequal funding, and lack of basic resources in many of the schools from Savage Inequalities are still present, while new military style instructional methods and prisonesque management techniques have begun to emerge under the name of “urban education.” In some instances, a form of classroom eduspeak has been imposed upon the natural language of children reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984. And in this new era of No Child Left Behind accountability measures, subjects that are not directly tested on standardized exams have either been marginalized or dismissed entirely in these urban schools.
Thirteen years have passed since Savage Inequalities, yet Kozol’s passionate voice continues to speak out loudly for those children whose voices are rarely heard. It continues to remind a nation of shameful truths that have been long been ignored. The true shame of the nation, as Kozol points out, is that “No matter how complex the reasons that have brought us to the point at which we stand, we have, it seems, been traveling a long way to a place of ultimate surrender that does not look very different from the place where some of us began.”(less)