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

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

Jonathan Kozol. Crown Publishing Group (NY), $25 (416pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-5244-8

Public school resegregation is a ""national horror hidden in plain view,"" writes former educator turned public education activist Kozol (Savage Inequalities, Amazing Grace). Kozol visited 60 schools in 11 states over a five-year period and finds, despite the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, many schools serving black and Hispanic children are spiraling backward to the pre-Brown era. These schools lack the basics: clean classrooms, hallways and restrooms; up-to-date books in good condition; and appropriate laboratory supplies. Teachers and administrators eschew creative coursework for rote learning to meet testing and accountability mandates, thereby ""embracing a pedagogy of direct command and absolute control"" usually found in ""penal institutions and drug rehabilitation programs."" As always, Kozol presents sharp and poignant portraits of the indignities vulnerable individuals endure. ""You have all the things and we do not have all the things,"" one eight-year-old Bronx boy wrote the author. In another revealing exchange, a cynical high school student tells his classmate, a young woman with college ambitions who was forced into hair braiding and sewing classes, ""You're ghetto-so you sew."" Kozol discovers widespread acceptance for the notion that ""schools in ghettoized communities must settle for a different set of academic and career goals"" than schools serving middle-and upper-class children. Kozol tempers this gloom with hopeful interactions between energetic teachers and receptive children in schools where all is not lost. But these ""treasured places"" don't hide the fact, Kozol argues, that school segregation is still the rule for poor minorities, or that Kozol, and the like-minded politicians, educators and advocates he seeks out, believe a new civil rights movement will be necessary to eradicate it.