Children in America's Schools
Email this review


 Kozol again turns a floodlight on a dark corner of the nation's soul, the classrooms of the minority poor. Here, Kozol returns to the public schools where he began a career as spokesman for the powerless and conscience of the privileged 25 years ago (Death at an Early Age). Reports of schools in black and Hispanic communities from New York to California-- where not only books, crayons, and lab equipment but also toilet paper are rationed--are painful to read. School buildings turn into swamps when it rains or must be closed (or, worse yet, are kept open) when sewage backs up into kitchens and cafeterias. A school in the South Bronx is set up in a windowless skating rink next to a mortuary, with class sizes up to 35, lunch in three shifts, a library of 700 books, and no playground. The school population is 90-percent black and Hispanic. Yet it is only a few minutes north to a more affluent part of the Bronx and a public school surrounded by flowering trees, two playing fields, and a playground, with a planetarium and an 8,000-book library. There, the population is overwhelmingly white and Asian. More horrifying stories follow--but it's Kozol's intention to horrify, in order to make the point that these vast disparities in quality of education are caused by racism. Nearly 40 years after Brown v. Board of Education, many US schools are still separate but no longer even remotely equal. Critics will argue that these sad case histories are isolated or rare and are situated in communities whose economies have collapsed. Partly true, but Kozol's point is that justice and decency call for sharing resources in times of trouble, not abandoning children (and their teachers) to degradation and ignorance. A powerful appeal to save children by redistributing the wealth. It will cause angry, but perhaps fruitful, debate.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-517-58221-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991


NonfictionTHE THEFT OF MEMORY by Jonathan Kozol
by Jonathan Kozol
NonfictionLETTERS TO A YOUNG TEACHER by Jonathan Kozol
by Jonathan Kozol
NonfictionTHE SHAME OF THE NATION by Jonathan Kozol
by Jonathan Kozol


NonfictionRAISING THE CURVE by Ron  Berler
by Ron Berler
NonfictionHOPE AGAINST HOPE by Sarah Carr
by Sarah Carr
IndieMISLABELED AS DISABLED by Kalman R.  Hettleman
by Kalman R. Hettleman