Savage Inequalities

Jonathan Kozol

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In My Professional Opinion...

Right from the get-go, Kozol paints a dark picture of how poor the conditions are at several schools, and then comes back for a second round by describing the bountiful resources found at other schools. This trend continues throughout the book as he travels from areas such as St. Louis to Detroit and from New Jersey to Texas. Overall, it was a great read an I would definitely recommend it to anybody. In terms of the bigger picture, many students in these areas are not given a fair chance to grow and develop and lead successful lives. Many of these students in areas like East St. Louis often times don't get a chance to get away from the poverty they were raised in. This is demonstrated when Kozol relates his story of the young woman who could transform a room with singing. He brings up the words of Superintendent, Dr. Lillian Parks who says, "Gifted children are everywhere in East St. Louis, but their gifts are lost to poverty and turmoil...". Sadly, she is correct in saying this, and this is not only the case for students, but for adults as well. Sam Morgan serves as the Principal of East St. Louis High School and was born and raised in East St. Louis. Even though he has risen above the strife that turns many to drugs and prostitution, he is still a victim of it. Within the first twenty pages, it is clearly shown that a teacher can only do so much to provide students with care and a nurturing environment. The students' environment outside the classroom is just as important as it is on the inside. This lesson isn't only found in impoverished areas however, it can be found in even some of the wealthiest school districts. My hometown of Liberty, MO sees this every day. Many of the students in my school who don't have the best life at home, don't have the best life at school either. They don't do their homework, they do poorly on tests, and their grades drop. They just don't care and I know that they can do better. It makes me thankful that I have such loving parents who support me and who care about me. Many people do not and that is a shame. All people deserve to have a place to go that welcomes them and having that makes a huge difference in everything. That is what I have taken away from reading this book, that having a place to call home and having a supportive environment, in addition to having a great learning environment in the classroom are the keys to success in America's children.

Having a place to call home...

I feel that having a stable home environment helps me as a learner because it reduces the amount of stress I feel during school. On days where there are no issues or problems at home, I have better days at school. I feel more alert and focused with little to no stress throughout my day. However, on days where there are problems such as my mom getting mad at my brother or I, or my dog getting sick, I have worse days at school. I feel distracted, like there is a fog around my head and I can't think about school. I definitely stand by my opinion that having a place to call home makes a huge impact on the learning ability of America's students.

How to learn from it...

After reading this book, I can see why some of the students I work with act the way they do in class. One student in particular stands out to me. He is a very bright student, and when he works and follows along, he gets all of his work done. Sadly, these days are few and far between and he is often off task and is often disciplined by the teacher I am assigned to. His two older siblings are in class with me, and based on the way they act in class, I can imagine that based on the way they act to their friends, they are probably not the nicest to their little brother. This saddens me to think that he could receive so much more from learning if he wasn't distracted all the time. This isn't a statement of fact, it is just speculation. I try to see the good in people, and if I am totally wrong, and he just doesn't care, then I suppose this example doesn't work. I know there are countless students out there though, who wish they could go home and feel like they are home. To feel I am loved and appreciated when I walk through the doors of either my mom's or my dad's house, is a great feeling to me. It is a feeling that not everybody has. After reading Savage Inequalities I now have a whole new perspective on how I could teach and influence not only the students I teach, but my peers as well. Dealing with the results won't solve anything. Teachers can tell their students to pay attention, to do their homework, and it may not even faze the child. Getting to the source of the problem though, establishing a relationship and showing that you care, that's how to get through to a child. That's what I feel I can do and how I can use the lesson within the book to affect the people around me, hopefully for the better.

What I have to find out myself...

How can an entire city allow conditions to get so bad for so many? City Officials in East St. Louis cannot be able to avoid the horrendous conditions in which their citizens live. How can they allow it? How can they allow an entire city's sewer system to fail? That is repulsive and reduces the conditions to that of civilizations prior to the Roman Empire. This fact is absurd. No city should allow this and to go even further, no citizen should allow this. How can there not be any public outcry? Do they not care? How can they be ok with this? How can mothers be ok with their children being exposed to harsh chemicals coming from the industrial plants? How can parents be ok with their children not being able to have access to a quality education? How could other districts shut out students who want to learn? I feel that many of these questions do not have answers and quite frankly that upsets me. I cannot fathom how people can be ok with this.

A little about myself...

For starters, I am The Jacob Lambert. I enjoy Disney movies and am an avid enthusiast of all things awesome. I do not try to be some philosopher who tries to sound deep and meaningful. Truth is, I am just a regular kid who waits until the absolute last minute to get anything done. I don't do it to be a problem, it's just how I roll. I don't believe that there should be early deadlines on a completed project. I feel my best work is done on my own terms. I wish more teachers understood that not all students fit into a mold that they learn at some teaching convention. Anyway, I'll step off my metaphorical soap box before I fill up the internet on why I don't like standardization in schools. However, if anybody ever wants to have a semi-thought provoking conversation, feel free to either stop me in the halls at school or shoot me a quick text.

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What's this about...

Book study over Jonathan Kozol's, Savage Inequalities, conducted by yours truly(see above).