For my entire life of schooling, both my parents and I would agree that I constantly complained about the educational systems in which I was enrolled. But when I actually take the time to think about everything I have been through, I realize that I have indeed had an excellent education. My schooling was full of opportunities and experiences, all of which contributed to the person I am today; adequate education has been an indispensable facet of my being. Sadly, not everyone has had this same privilege. And now as a college student, I am becoming even more aware of this sad fact.
Looking around me in such a diverse city as Chicago, I find myself being more and more grateful. When I read Jonathan Kozol’s Fremont High School, this these feelings were even more reassured. Here in his writing, Kozol shares his experiences with students and teachers while visiting Fremont High School in Los Angeles, California. From the beginning, Kozol set the mood for the piece by describing the lackluster conditions of the buildings. He described the lack of sufficient classroom space by saying that “nearly a third of all the classrooms in the school, were located in portables…
took place in converted storage closets” (Kozol 641). By beginning his written tour of this school with these vivid descriptions, Kozol instantly placed me inside both the school and a depressing atmosphere. The images painted in my head by this account were tragic, yet sadly too real. When he interviewed students, one in particular captured both Kozol’s heart and mine. While reading his interview with Mireya, I could just picture the girl: Intelligent, ambitious, and more than willing to use her voice. Unfortunately, along with those qualities, I saw the frustration and tension caused by being underprivileged.
While I might have complained about the lack of an AP class that I was interested in, I was again reminded of my luck when Mireya discussed her interest in simply wanting “… to take an AP class” (Kozol 645). What was even more disturbing to picture was how the school’s lack of proper funding caused students to be pressured into enrolling in non-academic classes, such as sewing and hair-dressing II. Finally, the sadness in that classroom was brought to a climax when I could both see and feel the “programing” within the students’ minds.
When Mireya was talking about her reluctance to take the sewing class, a boy named Fortino said, “You’re ghetto… so we send you o the factory… you’re ghetto – so you sew! ” (Kozol 645). Even though he was probably speaking sarcastically out of his own frustrations, Fortino’s words cut deep. I am aware that there are better and worse high schools out there than Fremont High School. And yet, reading Kozol’s account of the terrible conditions that are endured by these students made me feel more aware of the severity of improper or inadequate education that poorly funded schools provide.
All of these problems, alongside my awareness of my fortunate years of education, make me wonder, just as Mireya did, as to why, “… [students] who need it so much more get so much less? ” (Kozol 648). Interestingly, I have little to comment on Kozol’s actual writing style, even though he wrote this account of his. I was just so attached to the characters within that school that I wanted to be able to reach out somehow; Kozol definitely achieved something very touching here. Works Cited Kozol, Jonathan. “Fremont High School. ” The Norton Field Guide to Writing. 2nd ed. New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company,, 2010. 641-48. Print.
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