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Kevin  Seavers  


  Irl  Solomon  is  a  history  teacher  in  East  St.  Louis,  Missouri.  He  teaches  in  one  

of  the  most  underfunded  cities  in  America.  The  article  titled  Social  Inequalities  is  

written  by  Jonathan  Kozol,  which  describes  Mr.  Solomon  as  one  of  the  highlights  of  

East  St.  Louis  High  School.  Mr.  Solomon  graduated  from  Brandeis  University  in  

Boston,  Massachusetts.  According  to  U.S.  news,  Brandeis  is  ranked  34th  for  National  

Universities.  Mr.  Solomon  decided  to  skip  law  school  because  he  had  a  concern  with  

civil  rights  issues.  He  wanted  to  teach  at  schools  in  America  that  needed  the  most  

educational  assistance.  The  school  has  been  dealing  with  a  lack  of  funding  and  

resources.  In  Mr.  Solomon’s  class,  the  students  have  a  perception  that  there  is  no  

reason  not  to  have  a  baby  because  graduating  from  a  ghetto  high  school  will  not  

help  them  in  their  future.  There  are  also  other  teens  with  self-­‐esteem  issues.  Fifty-­‐

five  percent  of  the  seniors  are  expected  to  graduate  and  20%  of  those  kids  will  go  

onto  a  four-­‐year  college.  Some  of  the  students  will  not  attend  their  physics  class  

because  the  labs  do  not  have  the  proper  equipment.    

  Jennifer  is  a  girl  that  attends  a  school  in  the  suburbs  of  Rye,  New  York.  

Jennifer  also  spoke  to  Mr.  Kozol  about  the  social  inequalities  of  schools  in  America.  

Her  family  comes  from  the  Bronx  and  decided  to  leave  because  the  schools  were  

bad.  Jennifer  describes  the  schools  in  the  Bronx  as  “hell”.  She  continues  by  making  

claims  like  “if  my  family  can  make  it  out  of  the  ghetto,  so  can  you”  and  “it’s  not  my  

responsibility  to  provide  taxes  for  the  less  fortunate”.  It  is  a  bit  frightening  to  know  

that  a  student  that  was  once  apart  of  a  system  has  given  up  on  the  system  and  it’s  
people  entirely.  Jennifer  believes  that  everyone  deserves  an  equal  opportunity  at  

education,  but  only  if  they  want  it.    

  There  are  no  comparisons  between  the  two  schools  in  East  St.  Louis  and  Rye,  

New  York.  There  are  only  disparities  and  social  inequalities.  The  only  comparison  

argument  can  be  made,  is  that  both  schools  have  kids.  East  St.  Louis  is  trying  to  pay  

its  substitute  teachers  permanent  salaries  of  $10,000.00  per  year  to  save  money,  

while  the  school  in  New  York  is  paying  its  teachers  a  maximum  of  $70,000.00  per  

year.  The  school  is  New  York  just  remodeled  its  auditorium  with  private  donations  

of  up  to  $400,000.00  while  the  state  of  St.  Louis  has  been  having  budgeting  issues.  

The  state  of  Missouri  built  a  new  school  but  the  school  was  not  built  properly.  

Unfortunately,  the  students  will  not  be  able  to  relocate  to  the  new  school  because  

sewage  problems,  fumes,  and  toilet  issues.  East  St.  Louis  is  lacking  resources  from  

computer  equipment,  clean  water,  and  proper  sporting  equipment.  The  suburban  

school  in  New  York  provides  their  students  with  a  quiet  area  where  students  can  

read  and  stretch  out.  The  disparity  of  the  two  schools  is  alarming.  The  students  in  St.  

Louis  lost  their  last  Latin  teacher.  And,  of  course,  the  students  in  New  York  learn  two  

languages  before  they  graduate  high  school.    

  This  article  has  made  me  feel  disgusted  for  complaining  about  the  high  

school  I  attended.  I  attended  a  high  school  in  Pasadena  with  gang  problems.  The  

students  did  not  care  about  learning  or  achieving  goals.  Personally,  I  used  to  call  it  

the  worst  school  in  America.  This  article  has  made  me  recant  my  previous  

statements  and  reflect  upon  my  experience  with  a  positive  attitude.  You  do  not  

know  how  bad  you’ve  had  it  until  someone  tells  you  about  East  St.  Louis  High  
School.  I  was  allowed  into  an  academy  where  students  that  cared  about  learning  

were  separated  from  the  other  students.  A  lot  of  people  think  of  Pasadena  as  an  

affluent  city  but  the  money  does  not  make  its  way  into  the  public  schools  because  

the  affluent  students  go  to  Pasadena’s  private  schools.  The  academy  I  attended  could  

have  been  considered  “separated  but  equal”.  However,  anyone  that  wanted  to  join  

could  sign  up.  In  the  past  20  years  I  think  things  have  changed  in  some  areas.  My  

high  school  is  not  considered  gang  related  anymore  but  it  also  comes  at  a  price.  The  

majority  of  the  African-­‐Americans  in  Pasadena  have  moved  to  other  cities  like  

Fontana  and  Palmdale.  The  same  thing  is  happening  with  the  city  of  Highland  Park.  

Gentrification  has  created  a  buzz  in  the  school  system.  When  I  was  growing  up,  

nobody  would  step  a  foot  into  Highland  Park.  Currently,  the  average  home  price  is  

$500,000.00.  Things  have  changed  but  remain  the  same.  I  used  to  think  of  an  answer  

for  these  problems  when  I  was  in  high  school.  I  don’t  think  that  anyone  has  an  

answer  to  be  honest  with  you.  It’s  really  sad  that  nothing  has  been  done  to  help  

these  people.  It  seems  that  America  would  like  the  problem  to  take  care  of  itself.    

The  sad  part  is  that  twenty  years  from  now  East  St.  Louis  will  probably  be  a  hot  spot  

and  one  of  the  safest  communities  in  Missouri.    


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