Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kozol: Still Separate, Still Unequal- Quotes

In this reading, Jonathan Kozol posits that racial segregation is still evident in America’s schools and that this racial segregation fuels the achievement gap. The beginning of the article states, “All people are due equal education and everything else that goes along with maintaining a healthy society,” but this is not the truth according to Kozol.  There is deep segregation in our schools and it is up to us to fix this problem.

The following are quotes from the reading that highlight this problem:

“There is something deeply hypocritical about a society that holds an eight-year-old inner-city child ‘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 earlier.”

In the article, Kozol explains that it is unfair to hold inner-city students accountable for their performance on high-stakes testing when they have not been provided with a fair and equal chance as their suburban counterparts to perform well.  Children of the middle-class and the wealthy (including government officials), who often comprise these suburban districts, shave the money to provide their children with preschool, expensive private schools, tutoring, etc. which makes them better prepared to take standardized tests.  Inner city children have not been afforded these opportunities due to their socioeconomic status. This discrepancy creates an unfair bias in testing, yet students are held accountable all the same.

Recent public policy has been developed regarding accountability.  However, these policies simply penalize or reward performance.  They do not address the underlying issues of inequality and underfunding. It is the high officials that should be held accountable for the poor test scores due to the inequity they allow to continue, not the students or teachers. I believe it to be a travesty to punish those who are least able to change the circumstances when those most able to fix these problems are left unscathed. Using high stakes testing to determine if a student is able to graduate or move on to a different grade or to determine the quality of a teacher are unfair considering current inequities.

“Childhood is not merely basic training for utilitarian adulthood.  It should have some claims upon our mercy, not for its future value to the economic interests of competitive societies but for its present value as a perishable piece of life itself.”

This quote demonstrates Kozol’s belief that schools should not be factories that turn out future workers, but places where children are happy to learn and can enjoy their childhood.  Kozol writes extensively on his experiences visiting schools where children have been turned into “robots.”  Everything in these schools has been defined, standardized, and reduced to rote experiences from curriculum to classroom discourse to walking in the hallways.  All these changes are in the name of raising test scores, keeping control, and turning out humans “appropriate” for economic interests.  In doing so, schools have become places where there is no fun or enjoyment.  Teachers are unable to create fun experiences for their students because such experiences do not relate to standards.  Students often times do not have recess due to punishment or lack of accessibility to a recess yard or playground. 

This quote really resonated with me. One of my greatest fears in public education is that we become too standards and testing oriented to the extent that we force children to lose their childhood.  High quality education is important in creating functioning members of a global society, but I believe this should be done in a manner that still gives a child the right to be a child.  School is a place where children spend a majority of their day and I believe we owe it to them to make this time enjoyable (especially since research shows there is a link between student engagement and achievement). 

“Whether the issue is inequity alone or deepening resegregation or the labyrinthine intertwining of the two, it is well past the time for us to start the work that it will take to change this.”

This quote is a good summation of the reading as well as a “call to arms” by which Jonathan Kozol tells us to begin the long overdue change necessary to fix the defacto racism that goes on in schools today.  In the reading he discusses the impact that inequity and segregation have on the racial achievement gap.  This quote shows that whatever the cause of the problem, the problem still exists, and it is up to us to fix it by creating more equal schools and promoting desegregation. This quote makes me want to help in this endeavor, but doesn’t provide me with an answer for how to do so.  I wish that the reading went a step further and outlined specific ways to help the problem.


  1. Great job on your blog!! You included some powerful quotes that Kozol made in his article. As you stated in your blog... Jonathan Kozol feels that racial segregation is still evident in America’s schools and that this racial segregation fuels the achievement gap...This is an interesting point that Kozol made and I feel that he is 100% correct. Unfortunately there is still segregation present in our schools today and I feel that this factor does fuel the achievment gap.

  2. Amanda, I love the first quote you used. Today it seems like everyone is being held accountable, from the under-privileged 8 year old to the educator that has the responsibility to teach that child with limited resources, except those in a position to actually make a difference in the outcome of the testing! I also like the final sentences of your blog. I too felt a "call to arms" but also felt that Kozol could have been more explicit in the steps that we should take to make a difference. (And I think Delpit would agree! :) )

  3. I had to read the article by Finn so it was nice to read your post about Kozol. It soulds like they both have very similar views. Great blog! :)