Kids are hungry, their parents are in jail, and the good schools are in the suburbs, where the Congress people live. Their schools are upscale and well funded, while the inner-city schools suffer all the same problems the schools in the other chapters faced. The administrators feel whites would do anything to keep blacks out of their schools, including move away if too many blacks came into the district. The author talks about housing projects, and how the children grow up fast, and see things in their community that children simply should not see. Again, he makes the point that society allows this to happen, and turns the other way. He maintains that society sees minorities as "less than human" and that is why they allow these conditions to continue. He is trying to show these are real people with very real problems and that they have the same concerns and hopes as anyone else, but they grow up bitter and cynical because they realize there are so many inequities, they can never overcome them all. He covers other communities in his assessments, from Boston to Detroit in this chapter, but the results are always the same. For some reason, the poor do not have the right to ask for the same treatment as the rich. That is what society is saying by accepting sub-standard education for the poor.
This chapter covers the city of San Antonio, and continues talking about school district's and lawsuits that generally tend to keep segregated learning in place due to a variety of reasons. America's schools are discriminating at a time when that is not supposed to happen, and the author shows this is not a regional issue, but a national one that has many implications for the future. He also notes that financing plans developed to help equalize education have almost all been failures, and wealthy suburbs all cite "choice" and "liberty" in their decisions not to share revenues with poorer districts and areas. Justices uphold local control of funds rather than a more equal distribution, and this just keeps schools segregated and needy. He also cites attempts in California to equalize school spending and funding throughout the state that have not worked, and he talks about a decision in San Antonio that took 20 years to come about, while the children suffered that entire time. The last school, in Cincinnati, is a poor white school where conditions are much the same as most of the poor black schools in the book. He ends the book talking about the innocence of all children, and how it is soiled by this early experience and inequity in education. The book shows that the education system in America is not working, and that to make it better, test scores do not have to improve. Funding has to improve, society has to improve, and people have to actually start caring about kids and their education. That is the ultimate point this book is making.
What does this book implicate for criminal justice? It implicates the educational system as the foundation for poverty-stricken children to get out of the whirlpool of poverty they live in, and make a new life for themselves. Those who turn against school often turn to crime to support themselves, from burglary and robbery to selling drugs, and more times than not, these undereducated children will turn into criminal adults, the majority of whom fill up the criminal justice system every day. The book makes it clear that education is the key to getting out, but it is also the key to hope, and hope is a primary motivator in getting people to change.
The book also indicates that society accepts these savage inequalities, and indeed supports them, and in many cases simply refuses to fund or help the children that need it most. The teachers are not paid enough, the school buildings are old and dilapidated, equipment and textbooks are ancient, and teachers are often burned out or absent, leaving kids to learn on their own. None of this prepares kids for the future, and so, they do not have any skills or education to fall back on once they leave school. At best, they can look forward to a low-paying job, and many will look at welfare and criminality as a way of life. They have no other skills or preparation, so what else could they be expected to do? The school districts are letting these kids down, but so is society by allowing these conditions to continue. It seems that someone would figure out that educating these children would be far cheaper than paying to support them through the criminal justice system, through drug rehabilitation, or through healthcare. These kids are going to end up pregnant, dead, or on welfare, costing the system hundreds of thousands of dollars, and yet, spending that on education would help keep a lot of them off the streets, out of the prisons, and off the welfare rolls, which would be good for the nation and society.
Legislators and educators need to fight for better and equal funding for poor schools, and they have to make people realize that funding education will actually save taxpayers money in the long run. If more children have a chance at a decent life out of poverty, social services, including criminal justice will be reduced, and tax dollars would be saved. It would be good for society if prisons were less crowded, courts were concerned with more important matters, like murder and abuse, and more people could go to college and get good jobs. All this could happen if kids were better educated, and someone needs to fight for this to make it happen.