In an excerpt from his book titled, “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America,” Joseph Kozol illustrates a grim reality about the unequal attention given to urban and suburban schools. Through a visit to Fremont High School in the spring of 2003, Kozol makes the claim that schools in poverty-stricken areas seem to do worse than schools in high-class areas. Throughout the excerpt, Kozol often compares the South Central Los Angeles high school to other more affluent high schools that are within the same district. When told about the graduation requirements at Fremont and the classes the school had available for fulfillment, Kozol seemed to be amazed at how academically irrelevant the classes were (e.g. Hairstyling, Braiding, and Sewing). He compared it to the AP classes that Beverly Hills High had available for its students. Also in support of his claim, Kozol uses court papers that document the unsanitary physical conditions of the school.
According to the documents, Fremont has “15 fewer bathrooms than the law requires” and rat-droppings are recorded “in the bins and drawers of the high school’s kitchen.” Kozol states that no matter how many times he reviews the files, he is always surprised again that these conditions are “permitted to continue in public school even after media accounts describe them vividly.” Based on Kozol’s report, the social and racial inequities in America’s education system is quite evident. Though not explicitly stated, Kozol warrants that schools in predominantly white neighborhoods are more likely to have sufficient funding, while schools in poor and minority neighborhoods do not. In South Sacramento, my home town, both Kozol’s claim and warrant are made manifest.
Like almost all cities, there is an upper class and a lower class area. South Sac’s lower class area is Florin Road and Meadowview, the upper class or where the rich folks stay, is known as Greenhaven, predominantly white of course. Connecting these two classes is an overpass. Crossing to Greenhaven from Florin Road is always an eye-opener. The average house in Greenhaven is twice the size of a house on Florin or Meadowview, and the schools there have a nicer model. I have yet to figure out why these differences exist in cities all across America, but one thing I do have resolved is that I find Kozol’s claim and warrant to be unfortunately a big reality in this nation.