Savage Inequalities Characters
by Jonathan Kozol

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Savage Inequalities Characters

Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol is a work of non-fiction, so there aren't characters in it, in the same way characters appear in a novel. The subjects of the book are no less interesting, however. The school children of the districts he visited play a big part, although mostly passive, since they're the victims of deliberate segregation through the manipulation of education funding. The parents, school officials, and teachers are presented here like stage extras: part of the story, but not really part of the problem or part of the solution.

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The real villains of the book are the politicians and their wealthy donors, who are presumed to control governments and their budgets, and who through their racism deliberately cause under-investment in schools in low-income districts. They do this in order to over-fund the schools they prefer, which are overwhelmingly to be found in wealthy, mostly-white districts. These people are presented with a range of grievances or prejudices. Some are old-fashioned, unrepentant racists and segregationists. Others are ideologically opposed to immigration. Some are committed to market mechanisms and meritocracy at the cost of social justice. Still others are adamantly opposed to helping poor people. What they all have in common is a determination to exclude students at schools in low-income districts from opportunities to get their fair share of the American dream, starting with a solid education and a shot at attending college.

The children of the book are presented as innocent victims of a terrible crime that they know nothing about. They come from rich families and poor ones, and for the most part they are all unaware of their part in the drama that Kozol describes in the book. The rich ones recognize that they go to "good" schools, and some of them recognize the advantages this gives them. The poor ones are well aware of their material poverty and the awful conditions in their schools, but most of them don't fully grasp the significance that this will have on their futures. They accept that this is the way things are, it's the way things have always been and will always be, and that there's nothing they can do to change it.

That's perhaps the most poignant thing about the book. Most of the children who are suffering this neglect struggle to imagine a different—and better—world.