For two years, beginning in 1988, Jonathan Kozol visited schools in neighborhoods across the country, from Illinois to Washington D.C., and from New York to San Antonio. He spoke with teachers, principals, superintendents, and, most important, children. What he found was devastating. Not only were schools for rich and poor blatantly unequal, the gulf between the two extremes was widening—and it has widened since. The urban schools he visited were overcrowded and understaffed, and lacked the basic elements of learning—including books and, all too often, classrooms for the students.
In Savage Inequalities, Kozol delivers a searing examination of the extremes of wealth and poverty and calls into question the reality of equal opportunity in our nation’s schools.
Kozol believes that children from poor families are cheated out of a future by grossly underequipped, understaffed and underfunded schools in U.S. inner cities and less affluent suburbs. The schools he visited between 1988 and 1990--in burnt-out Camden, N.J., Washington, D.C., New York's South Bronx, Chicago's South Side, San Antonio, Tex., and East St. Louis, Mo., awash in toxic fumes--were ``95 to 99 percent nonwhite.'' Kozol ( Death at an Early Age ) found that racial segregation has intensified since 1954. Even in the suburbs, he charges, the slotting of minority children into lower ``tracks'' sets up a differential, two-tier system that diminishes poor children's horizons and aspirations. He lets the pupils and teachers speak for themselves, uncovering ``little islands of . . . energy and hope.'' This important, eye-opening report is a ringing indictment of the shameful neglect that has fostered a ghetto school system in America. 50,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB selections; author tour.