“The nation needs to be confronted with the crime
that we’re committing and the promises we are betraying. This is a book about
betrayal of the young, who have no power to defend themselves. It is not
intended to make readers comfortable.”
Over the past several years, Jonathan Kozol has visited
nearly sixty public schools. Virtually everywhere, he finds that conditions
have grown worse for inner-city children in the fifteen years since federal
courts began dismantling the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.
First, a state of nearly absolute apartheid now prevails in thousands of our
schools. The segregation of black children has reverted to a level that the
nation has not seen since 1968. Few of the students in these schools know white
children any longer. Second, a protomilitary form of discipline has now
emerged, modeled on stick-and-carrot methods of behavioral control
traditionally used in prisons but targeted exclusively at black and Hispanic
children. And third, as high-stakes testing takes on pathological and punitive
dimensions, liberal education in our inner-city schools has been increasingly
replaced by culturally barren and robotic methods of instruction that would be
rejected out of hand by schools that serve the mainstream of society.
Filled with the passionate voices of children and their
teachers and some of the most revered and trusted leaders in the black
community, The Shame of the Nation is
a triumph of firsthand reporting that pays tribute to those undefeated
educators who persist against the odds, but directly challenges the chilling
practices now being forced upon our urban systems by the Bush administration.
In their place, Kozol offers a humane, dramatic challenge to our nation to
fulfill at last the promise made some fifty years ago to all our youngest
citizens. Download and start listening now!