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Not-so-shocking chapter on Englewood. Almost 25 years since the publication of this book, the problems exalted by Kozol continues still persist in Chicago and perhaps elsewhere.

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This book is a must read for educators, parents and the crux of America society. Kozol sheds a disturbing light on deplorable living and working conditions for students and teachers within the confines of U.S. urban poor public school.
I must warn; readers should prepare mentally for the devastatingly vivid descriptive accounts of inequalities witnessed and lived in these areas. Given the title of the book I knew that I would be in for a ride, however I could never imagine the horrific heart-wrenching reports of unjust and inadequate conditions found in the schools and surrounding communities. If I wasn’t aware, I would have thought the stories described were that of a third world country .
Kozol gives accounts of deteriorated school facilities, overcrowding, high teen pregnancies, low graduation rates, severe health conditions, inadequate staffing personnel and sinfully large crime rate found in so many state throughout the United States. In chapter one he writes of a school in St. Louis as described as “America’s Soweto” for all intensive purposes should have been closed by the government and declared a state of emergency. He writes:
When the city’s garbage pickups ceased, the backyards of residents have been employed as dumpsites…. Public health officials are concerned the garbage will attract a plague of flies and rodents in the summer….Many people have no cars or funds to cart the trash and simply burn it in their yards (p.9).
He describes how the local schools sent over 16,000 students home because sewage flooded t he buildings of both the JR and SR high schools when it’s two pumping stations failed.
“Sewage, which is flowing from collapsed pipes and dysfunctional pumping stations, has also flooded basements all over the city (p.10).”
Martin Luther King Junior High School… was evacuated Friday afternoon after sewage flowed into the kitchen…. The kitchen was closed and the students were sent home. The following Monday, East St. Louis Senior High School was awash in sewage for the second time this year. The school had to be shut down because of the fumes and back-up toilets. Sewage flowed into the basement, through the floor, then up into the kitchen and the students ‘bathroom (p. 23).
Kozol ethnographic finding of mortifying inequities that plague many urban city’s across the nation are shocking and at moments heartbreaking to the point that I was in tears and had to set aside the reading for moments at a time. Throughout the book similar unabashed truths of varying cities continue. Found within the shameful conditions Kozol presents rays of hope in form of educators and students making a way out of no way. If for nothing more than to start a dialogue on the vast inequalities of American schools systems, this book is necessary.

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