William Kozol Essay
In the article “Still Separate, Still Unequal” written by Jonathan Kozol, Kozol expose and expresses his concern of unequal treatment in the schools according to whether they are in an urban or suburban area. Using a series of reasoning and logic techniques, he then proves his argument that because of the segregation in schools, minorities are not receiving the same education and opportunities as predominantly white schools.
Kozol uses statistic, one on one interviews with students and personal reflections to bring insight to the reader, and why he is asking for a change for equal opportunity. Right away Kozol uses statistic from city to city to grasp the readers attention. With doing so, he is showing the reader how “real life” this issue is. He uses statistics such as “In Chicago 87% of public-school enrolment was black or Hispanic; less than 10% was white. In Washington D.C., 94% black or Hispanic; to less than 5% white. In New York City, nearly three quarters of the students were black or Hispanic.” (41) to give the viewers an idea of how isolated the schools in the urban areas are.
One teacher even stated how of all the years she’s been teaching she has only seen one or two Caucasian kids in her class. Throughout the article, Kozol goes on to compare the type of education that is being given in the urban schools to those of suburban. Also how they portray many of the schools to be diverse but in all reality there is no such thing. By the statistic given in the beginning of the article, that is merely enough proof to show there is no diversity in the schools today; which brings us to the main point of the article of schools being separate. Before we can even focus on the part of education, it seems as if the students were more focused on the appearance of their institutions.
If an institution looks and feels great, then the students would be more encouraged to learn. Students should never have to bring forth asking questions like why don’t they have a garden, nice parks to play in, or why aren’t they using their gym for extracurricular but more so to just line up. In their minds, they should be entitled to these opportunities. Why?
Because they see the schools in the suburban areas have these things, all the things that they don’t. Moving deeper along the issues that this article expose, he quotes an essayist and novelist by the name Marina Warner, and she states, “There are expensive children and there
are cheap children.”(45) This simply opens up the argument that in order for your child to have a good education you must have a lot of money, and to have a lot of money you must fall somewhere between middle and upper class. Education is supposed to help us better our lives and enhance our ways of living.
Therefore, educational opportunities should be equal for all no matter the age, race, or social status. Kozol uses his first hand experience with visiting schools and talking to teachers and students on how they feel about their education. Using quotes from the kids and the teachers, Kozol is helping us use our emotion to feel and understand where they are coming from. With him showing his sympathy and concern towards the issue, that same feeling began to overpower his audience.
He even refers to court cases that eventually led minorities to experience education period (Brown vs. Board of Education and Plessy vs. Fergueson). Pathos and ethos are some of the persuasive techniques he uses heavily as the high school students who express to him “of the limited number of bathrooms that are working in the school, “only one or two are open and unlocked for the girls to use”. Long lines of girls are “waiting to use the bathrooms”, which are generally “unclean” and “lack basic supplies”, including toilet paper.”(51) There is enough to visualize that those are unlawful conditions that will raise a red flag with the readers.
A lot of imagery and repetition is used by Kozol. More so repetition because everyone from a range of grade school to high school is raising the same concerns they have within the school system. From the type of education, to how it is being taught and also the appearance of the institution; which most feel that the appearance plays a big part in students being motivated.
It seems Kozol chose his techniques very closely for the matter that his argument can come off much as a bunch of personal opinions. The breakdown of using statistic in the opening of the article played a major part of gaining the readers trust. From that point on, it would be trusted that anything that is stated is nothing but facts. Whether it’s from firsthand experience or acknowledged through third party. It’s pretty obvious that Kozol would like for something to be done about the issue so he targeted people who are educated and who would be willing to step in and help make a change.
Kozol, Jonathan. “Still Separate, Still Unequal.” Harper’s Magazine (2005): 41-54.