Social Problem: Neglected Conditions of Schools in Non-White and Poor Neighborhoods

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1866 Words
Date:  2022-10-05


Jonathan Kozol text on Savage Inequalities focuses on a critical view of the American Public education system including revealing the failures in the system. The leading social problem highlighted in Kozol's text involves the terrible conditions of the neglected schools in nonwhite regions. A social problem involves the circumstances and events which have been identified by analysts to affect a high number of people, emanate from social causes and solved through social action (Spector et al. 3). Throughout the text, Kozol engages in explaining the reasons for poor conditions in the non-white schools and poor neighborhoods. Vitally, Kozil explains racial segregation to be impactful in the worsening conditions of the public school system.

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Framework of Address

Kozol applies the conflict theorist perspective in addressing the problem of the neglected schools. Kozol draws the reader attention to the power differentials in the society either due to the high material endowment or racial superiority (Demmers 3). At the same time, Kozol describes how power inequality manifests itself in the provision of public services such as education and how the poor are highly disadvantaged due to the low material endowment.


Kozil applied the use of observations to document the worsening conditions of some of the public schools during his time. In the period starting from 1988 to 1990, Kozil visited different schools in approximately 30 neighborhoods (Kozol 2). Throughout he observed widespread disparities where the schools in the poorest inner-city communities had worse off conditions compared to the schools found in the suburban districts.

During his research, Kozol interrogated key informants including schools principals. The interviews with the school administration teams were vital in gaining significant insights into the conditions of learning institutions. For instance, through talking to a principal in New Jersey, Kozol came to realize that the difference in the spending per pupils in the suburban schools compared to the city schools (Kozol 149). Kozol found out that schools in New York City and Chicago spent only a half of the money that other schools like Princeton spent in the education of their students.

The Causes of the Social Problem

A look at Kozol's text reveals the widespread nature of racial segregation the country. Like any other causative to a social problem, racial discrimination is a social cause. The book reveals without a doubt that segregation is a common and intensified problem in the public school system. Despite an earlier court decision during Brown Versus board of education in which the court declared segregation as unconstitutional, the decision did not make any meaningful changes (Kozol 212). Kozil reveals that most of the urban schools had nonwhite children. He also reveals striking realities that he did not see the white children intermingling freely with nonwhites.

The capitalist system is among the leading causes of the devastating conditions of the schools in poor neighborhoods. The capitalist system necessitates the existence of a system of division of labor. Schools have no option rather than to provide the kind of training that meets the demands of the capitalist system. Importantly, schools play a significant role in tracking students in the positions that they will fulfill in the economic order. The ruling class runs the country, and they ensure that just the appropriate number of people to fit the existing jobs. Vitally, the business people are not only interested in the workforce to suit each level, but they are also interested in an obedient workforce so that they can pay the minimum wage possible. The ruling class works by using their position in the hierarchy of the division of labor to influence government policies that favor their interests.

Kozol reveals differences in property tax as the principal reason for disparities in the public school system. The differences in the available tax revenues are reflected in the provision of public services including education. Kozol highlights the differences in property tax revenues that contribute to the poor districts getting differential opportunities for education compared with the affluent neighborhoods. The property values in the poor regions are not worth as much as the property in the wealthy districts. Kozol uses shocking statistics to support his claims. For instance, a school in Chicago received $90, 000 less amount of money compared to a New Trier High (Kozol 149). Therefore, if the poor districts demand more money to sustain the school system they will end up overtaxing the people who are living in the same areas.

The Effects of the Social Problem

The poor conditions of the schools in the poor neighborhoods contribute to denying the poor children a better future since they come out of school while they are unequipped. The schools in the poor districts are not only underfunded, but they are also understaffed. Therefore, there lacks the necessary instruction to impart the students with the skills needed to survive in the labor market. The poor schools do not have a choice about these significant matters including the caliber of teachers.

The poor conditions in the school introduce significant physical dangers and consequent emotional turmoil to the students. The school facilities follow below the minimum requirements. For instance, the bathrooms in schools found in East St. Louis are nonfunctioning, and the odor from the toilets permeates the whole school (Kozol20). The students are despair, and they do not see any future for themselves.

The poor conditions of the schools attended by the poor students contribute to propagating the cycle of poverty for the non-whites. Kozol affirms that the present conditions in the schools have been persistence for a long time. Despite the passing of the court decision in Brown V. Board of education that declared segregation in schools as unconstitutional, the poor parents are still forced to take their children to the same schools that they attended themselves (Kozol 184). Therefore, the children of the poor unlike the rich do not access the necessary education to support their self-determination mission.

Segregation of the public schools leaves a negative legacy that serves to prevent the success of any activities aimed at addressing the same problem. For instance, a school by the name of Martin Luther King Jr. was established in a white neighborhood with the aim that it would attract a high number of white children living in the vicinity (Kozol 212). Importantly, at the time of its establishment, it was seen as a viable effort to integrate black, Hispanic and white students. However, right from the start, the parents from the white neighborhood were reluctant to take their children to the school. Eventually, the school ended up becoming a destination for the Hispanic and the black children.

Solutions to the Problem

Kozol reveals that the problem of the neglected schools in the neighborhoods can be solved through increased equality in government funding for the schools. One of the means of reducing the gap in public funding for the schools is abolishing property taxes as the fundamental means of acquiring funds to finance public education. During Kozol visits, a principal from Camden affirmed that 'We spend $4000 yearly on each student,'', the statewide average is $5, 000, but our children are also competing with kids in places such as Cherry Hill, which spends over $6,000 (Kozol 149). Therefore, the use of property taxes as the primary funding source is unjust due to its tendency to benefit the children from the affluent neighborhood, and eventually the most privileged in the society.

Funding of the schools should be broadly equal and with only a few adjustments. For instance, the government should consider adjusting depending on the needs of the students. Children from the poor income families have more needs compared with those from wealthy families (Kozol 160). Equality in the funding of public schools is possible while the government ensures that income comes from a concentrated source such as progressive income tax.

The government has to start facilitating the learning of the children from the reduced income families' right from preschool. The government should consider providing a full-day head start for the preschool students from low-income families. The funding of school education will ensure that the children have hope in education right for the beginning and it will prevent despair that results from excess struggles that the poor students experience.

The government should consider introducing incremental funding for low-income rural schools. The higher amount of funding for the schools in the poor neighborhoods will boost the ability of the schools thriving in poor conditions to catch up with the improved conditions in the schools found in the white regions (Kozol 190). Also, the government should consider passing a reconstruction bill that will ensure the tearing down of the entire decrepit infrastructure in public schools.

The Role of the Text in Contributing to the Understanding of the Social Problem

Kozol manner of examination of the neglected condition of the schools is consistent with the main aspects of any social issue. For instance, a social problem has to be something that is negative and recognized by as a problem by researchers or the affected populations (Spector et al. 2). Also, Kozol covers the real extent of the problem, and he leaves the reader without a doubt that that the problem is widespread and affecting the learning of a high number of people. Vitally, Kozol traces the neglected condition of some of the schools as emanating from the social causes including inequality and the capitalist system. Finally, Kozol cares to bring to the reader's attention the critical ways of addressing the social problem that is mostly from social actions including the introduction of aggregate income tax and funding of the schools based on the extent of the student needs.

The first criteria of a social problem are that it has to be negative and it has to be recognized as so by either analysts or a large number of people. From Kozol descriptions, it is apparent that the conditions of the schools and their surroundings are just terrible. Kozol reveals that the schools have administrative problems and decayed buildings. Moreover, the schools are highly overcrowded and dropping out of school is viewed as a necessary way of cutting down the high number of students. Vitally, the condition of some of the schools is appalling. For instance, the situation at Morris High school at South Bronx was incredibly pathetic. Some of the blackboards were cracked, and the teachers are in fear every time the students are writing on them. The broken blackboards have sharp pieces that can cut the students while they are writing on them (Kozol 99). During some of the mornings there were fallen chips pieces of dried paint on the classroom floor that appeared like snow. Kozol shows that one of the classrooms is wholly sealed off after having a gaping hole on the floor.

The poor condition of the schools and their surroundings are recognized to be negative by other people. Kozol shows that the problem of the poor state of the schools has been identified as a pressing problem by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the University of Southern Illinois and one of the reporters, Safir Ahmed (Kozol7). Other bodies which have identified the poor condition of the schools as a pressing problem include the local health officials, lead-poison experts, the Daughters of charity, the Illinois branch of Environmental...

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Social Problem: Neglected Conditions of Schools in Non-White and Poor Neighborhoods. (2022, Oct 05). Retrieved from

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