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

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,772 ratings  ·  296 reviews
Since the early 1980s, when 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 prisons is now used with students. Meanwhile, as high-stakes testing takes on pathol ...more
Paperback, 423 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Broadway Books (first published September 2005)
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Crystal  Belle
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was ok


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 pro
...more
Allison K
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Throughout The Shame of a Nation, author Jonathan Kozol describes his journey through 60 different inner-city school detailing the discrepancies between those and rural schools. Kozol sheds some light on apartheid schooling, where minorities (specifically black and hispanic students) make up virtually the entire student body. Kozol details how the American education system is failing these students; particularly because these schools are underfunded, hire untrained teachers, and are overcrowded. ...more
Deborah
Mar 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Davide R
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jonathan Kozol’s The Shame of the Nation takes the reader on a tour through schools largely in the New York and Boston areas ravaged by the effects of apartheid schooling. Kozol focuses largely on the socio-economic backgrounds of school children, in order to provide a truly heart-wrenching picture of America’s poorly funded, overcrowded, and unabashedly and often ironically segregated schools. He makes frequent use of personal experiences and clever anecdotes in order to make his point that whi ...more
MikeO
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Jonathan Kozol takes a strong stand on the corrupt school system of modern times. Children of low income neighborhoods are receiving poor educations in which are now where near the quality to those of richer neighborhoods just a few miles away. Conditions in these segregated low income communities attend schools with horrible learning conditions which include bad learning environments, poor teachers, and little government funding. These students are falling behind from the rest of society and t ...more
Gabbyp
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This book was a very educational and inspiring read on the racism and unfair opportunities within education due to the wealth of the surrounding community. It is an eye opener for those who have better resources and chances because of their neighborhood and don’t realize how different some children have it. Jonathan Kozol does a marvelous job exposing the flaws in the educational system that many would not know of otherwise, including that America’s schools went back to being segregated as they
...more
Rory F
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
While writing his book “Shame of the Nation” author Jonathan Kozol visited over 60 schools across America to compare the rural area schools to the city schools. While visiting the schools he realized how much has not changed since the Board of Education battles 50 years ago. Schools are just as much or maybe even more segregated than they were before the Supreme Court ruled schools to have no segregation. Looking at the different schools he realized schools that were primarily white would offer ...more
Maegan Q
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
The shame of the nation by Jonathan Kozol is a very informative book in which Kozol himself goes and visits over 60 public schools. At each of these schools he unveils awful conditions that the inner city children still go through after 15 years ago when the federal courts began to dismantle the the ruling of Brown vs. Board of education. The schools today still face segregation as well as many other issues. Most of the inner city schools are apartheid schools which cause the kids to be complete ...more
Virginia C
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jonathan Kozol’s book, The Shame of the Nation, addresses the issues within the American system of education, particularly pointing out the advantages and disadvantages that come along with race, location, and funding in public schools. Kozol begins presenting his ideas with the issue of segregation in inner-city/urban school districts. Kozol points out that the majority of students in urban schools are people of color, while the surrounding suburban school systems are dominated by white studen ...more
Jeremy
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kozol has been writing about education in America, its failings and inequities, with talent for decades. I was impressed with the factual nature of the presentation. He makes an argument that the roots of our currently segregated system, in which blacks, particularly poor blacks are segregated into schools that are less well funded, feature educational programs that are rigid and stultifying, and are often shunted into low wage job training before they are 12. The argument holds up very well, as ...more
David Nessipbekov
You know (you don't), I don't like to get political, but if we would rather spend yuge amounts of money on a wall, a proposition fraught with difficulty, than solve the problems such as ones outlined in this book, there is something intrinsically wrong with this nation. Please read this book. Get out of your echo chamber, defy your conservative worldview, and read this work. To be fair, I'm reading Dinesh D'souza's "End of Racism" right now and it's equally uncomfortable for my worldview. But if ...more
Jack
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
I very much respect Kozol and his lifelong work on education, and education for certain underserved portions of our society. It's not talked about enough. I also respect Kozol's passion: after dedicating so much time and energy on this issue, he has every right to write whatever he wants on the topic. Unfortunately for me, I didn't learn anything here. A white guy who grew up in middle class white suburbia, and I didn't learn much that I didn't already know about education in America. A missed o ...more
Catherine K-S
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jonathan Kozol’s The Shame of the Nation brings light to the calamitous effects of apartheid schooling in the United States in an astounding way, as well as shows how the courts failed to deliver their promises in cases such as Brown vs. The Board of Education regarding the desegregation of schools. Through visiting numerous inner-city schools that are severely underfunded, Kozol is able to reveal a pattern: most of the kids that go to the schools that are in astrocious condition, as well as hav ...more
Carolyn K
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Within the pages of The Shame of the Nation by Johnathan Kozol, one will find a raw and exclusive look into the other side of the American education system so many are quick to put aside. Despite actions by the Supreme Court in instances such as Brown vs. Board of Education to bring to light the injustice served to countless school aged children, Mr. Kozol made it his mission to personally investigate and report on the corruption within the American public school system. Despite numerous attempt ...more
Hailey B
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
The Shame of The Nation was a very inspiring and emotional book. The author, Jonathan Kozol presented to his audience how segregation in inner city schools was a huge problem that needed to be solved but might never be. The idea of "separate but equal" was mentioned a lot throughout Kozol's story, and not in a good way. Kozol claims that "separate but equal" is enforced no where in these inner city urban schools. He wanted the educational system to realize what was going on and solve the "separa ...more
JacobJ
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Shame of the Nation written by Jonathan Kozol was a very well written and educational book. Kozol’s main focus throughout the book is the state of segregation within the school system. He touches on how colored students have limited resources in their lives and the hardships they have to face due to this. One of the biggest problems leading to unobtainable education is funding issues. Whether it’s the schools lack of budget or the parents not being able to pay for certain programs, the stud ...more
Felicia F
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Shame Of The Nation by Jonathan Kozol is both informative and engaging. Kozol argues that pre-school education is crucial for children in order to develop at a normal rate, teachers curriculum is so based on standardized testing that they are not allowed to be creative and explore different ideas when lesson planning, test scores do not define someones worth or value, funding is very hard for most school districts (especially those in lower income neighborhoods), and that integration helps ...more
Aidan M
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book Review: The Shame of a Nation
Jonathan Kozol’s The Shame of the Nation entails information regarding the system of education in lower income areas specifically in relation with race, location, and funding in public schools. He explains the disadvantages and advantages that certain places get because of these factors. Kozol first talks about the issue of segregation in inner city and suburban public schools. He states that in inner city school systems the student body is mainly made up of pe
...more
Noah S
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this book Jonathan Kozol shares an articulate story about the flawed education system that shamefully exists today. Throughout the book Kozol describes his visits with many schools within the inner cities. He sheds light on the inequalities that exist within them which the privileged may be blind too. He slowly debunks the reasons for low graduation rates. Kozol talks about the need for equal Pre-K education, and much more. Throughout the book Kozol has shown himself to be a strong advocate o ...more
AllyRose Caruso
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book now—fifteen years after it was published and it makes me angry. It makes me angry because the conditions described and the continuation of school segregation should never have existed. This country has a broken education system and The Shame of the Nation makes that apparent. I am even angrier because I know that not much has changed since this book was published. Until partway through fifth grade, I attended a rather rural school which was incredibly underfunded and even as a f ...more
Gabrielle Schwabauer
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-challenge
Clear and easy to read, despite the heavy subject matter. He didn't just point out problems; he explored the Why, exposing the underlying systemic deficiencies that perpetuate and exacerbate the problems. I appreciated how thoughtfully he articulated his arguments, and the subject matter deserves deep thoughts. This book helped me to think more critically about the structure of education in the United States, hence the four stars.

I would have liked more concrete, provable information that backe
...more
Kate Dadio
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must read. Kozol’s explanations of what is going on in our inner city schools is something that all Americans should be aware of. This is hands down the best piece of literature I read in my master’s program.
Kieran C
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Johnathan Kozol’s The Shame of the Nation presents a portrait of present-day educational inequities that is certain to be incredibly intriguing and thought-provoking, especially for those unacquainted with the realities of urban public schools. Kozol examines the physical conditions, teaching, curriculum, and students in urban schools where nearly all of the children are African-American or Hispanic. The book chronicles visits to schools in which students are faced with material deficiencies tha ...more
David
Jun 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
...more
Alvin Li
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Johnathon Kozol's The Shame of the Nation takes the reader through nearly 60 inner-city public schools devastated by the effects of segregation. He sheds light on the glaring disparities between those institutions and their more rural and white counterparts. These inner-city schools, reminiscent of the apartheid era in South Africa lack support in funding and other resources, and thus put their majority-black or Hispanic students at a major disadvantage to their more priviledged counterparts. Th ...more
Carly
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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)...you'll likely find
...more
Lori
Oct 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
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 : (
Emma
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
worth reading for some of the very important information tucked away in its run-on sentences and messy organization. however, for a book this long i would have liked to see more substantive analyses and/or recommendations. i was also irritated and distracted by kozol's journalistic voice--sensationalist, preachy--and his tendency to ascribe motivations and intentions to the young people he talked to.
Casey
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
The low review comes from my frustration of the lack of in text citations and his heavy focus on New York and Boston schools. Also I have read another one of his books and get the sense that he recycles many anecdotes between books so ended up feeling like misty of the information was repetitive. Otherwise an interesting read it you are new to the subject area and or are focused on learning about the New York school district (and don't mind sifting for citations or going with out).
Miriam
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Even though Kozol is an extremely accomplished and excellent writer, I found this book to be a serious let down from the high hopes that I had for it. This book could easily be cut in half if all the repetitive statements had been deleted. This book has many of the same ideas being repeated multiple times with very much being added with each new reiteration. That being said, this book had a lot of information that everyone needs to know and is a very well written book overall,
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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

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Whether it’s magic schools, dystopias, paranormal love stories, or contemporary explorations of important real-life issues, young adult books a...
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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.” 56 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.” 33 likes
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