Fatimah’s book review on “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America”



“The shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America”

By Jonathan Kozol


During this pandemic, reading has been one of my favorite things to do with my free time. One book that was very life changing for me was “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America.” An amazing book by Jonathan Kozol. Kozol has visited nearly 50 schools in the United States, with the majority made up of Black and Hispanic students. Kozol shares his outrage for what he saw in America’s schools and his passion for change; that mixture of outrage and passion together create change!

In the book, Kozol writes about the obsessive focus on tests in schools and the need to pass these tests so that the schools can get the funds and any resources they need. These standardized tests are starting to control the teaching … Some schools even had to get rid of recess so as to use the time to get ready for the tests. More than a quarter of a year is wasted on these tests’ preparation.

Many students need school supplies – often bought for them by kind-hearted teachers!

Kozol also describes the way he felt about high officials. He says, “All children can learn. … If the officials who repeat this incantation honestly believe all kids can learn, why aren’t they fighting to make sure these kids can learn in the same good schools their own children attend?”

This is the sad reality of our world. Kozol’s outrage is something that many people in America feel every. But not everyone takes the necessary actions. Kozol uses the tactics of anger and emotion to get to the reader. This can also be the most effective with people who themselves have been through that kind of life. But, also at the same time, it will be annoying for those types of leaders because they only think they are doing the right thing because they are serving their children and their needs. I share Kozol’s outrage: all children deserve the best education, and it is everyone’s responsibility to help with providing all children with the best education!


The lack of resources for these schools was something that society did not have much knowledge of because people outside the schools never visited them – or care about their students. This quote by Kozol perfectly explains society in this situation: “Playing games of musical chairs with children’s lives, when half the chairs are broken and the best chairs are reserved primarily for the people of his class and race, is cynical behavior in a President.”

A lot of our leaders forget that all children should have all the resources they need in order to get their education.

Kozol also does a great job describing the terrible conditions of these schools. The schools that Kozol visited had unsanitary conditions and lacked many of the necessary resources. School classrooms and resources were spread out, creating a disadvantage for all students. Kozol says, of one classroom, “… the room smelled very bad, and it made me sick to my stomach. There was blood all over the place.”

The solutions that Kozol provides in his book:

providing more resources for these schools

all community leaders should be responsible for helping the schools that need resources.

Kozol lets the reader know the reality that some school children in America have to experience every day in school – and outside of school. Kozol makes his arguments in compelling ways.

The world needs change.

People need to study and educate themselves.

Instead of blaming the people – calling them bad – listen first!
These school days students will need PPE!