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

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  4,191 Ratings  ·  265 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 patholo ...more
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Published (first published September 13th 2004)
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Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gabrielle de Waal
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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,
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).
Oct 25, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 : (
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007

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.
Greg Sedlacek
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ahmad Nazeri
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rebekah O'Dell
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing! This is seriously a must-read for everyone. It is staggering to see what is really happening in our urban school systems.
Josh Wilson
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tragic, moving, heavy. Kozol weaves together story and stats, to paint a grim picture of the state of our schools. He demonstrates how segregation and stark funding disparities in effect create separate systems for the privileged and poor and exposes the directive, controlling, and soul crushing way those children without are often educated despite the best efforts of many teachers. This powerful and personal exposé illuminates the root problems, explains why the many of the proposed standards f ...more
Sarah F
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars, even though it is essentially just Savage Inequalities 2.0; in fact, when I started reading it, I had to look at the cover again to make sure I hadn't actually grabbed SI instead. Still, important to read and a sad reminder that American education continues to fail its students.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I appreciated the material. Listened to it so was harder to grasp the numbers and timeline. Felt a bit cheated as though I had just watched a lifelock dental monitor commercial with no real fixing offered.
Kevin J. Rogers
Dec 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
While I don't agree necessarily with some of Kozol's perspectives on education, such as his obvious horror of standardized testing and other accountability measures, I do think that his ultimate unveiling of the United States educational system as one based on apartheid as devastatingly accurate. Any educational reform, whether a Race For The Top or a No Child Left Behind—anything, essentially, short of equitable integration—will continually fail to bridge the “achievement gap.” There will be on ...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
Sep 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading The Shame of the Nation was an eye-opening experience for me. I have been terribly sheltered into thinking that my own educational experience full of well-funded programs and educational opportunities is the situation that most students in America find themselves in. Jonathan Kozol has presented a horrifying set of circumstances in which schools are divided and segregated and the schools themselves are poorly equipped to handle the students who attend.

The appalling physical condition of
Oct 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kozol is an excellent writer - he's passionate about his subject matter, and conveys a sense of real urgency and moral indignation at the inequities in our nation's schools. I loved his book Savage Inequalities in college, which was similar. He describes the differences in schools that serve student bodies that are poor and almost exclusively African-American and Hispanic and those that serve predominantly wealthy, white students. He weaves in statistics, interviews, anecdotes from classroom obs ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Shaun Kellogg
May 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jonathon 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
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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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“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.” 47 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.” 30 likes
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