He punctuates his lamentations with a litany of what illiterates cannot do: "Illiterates cannot read the menu at a restaurantcannot look up numbers in a telephone directorycannot read the notices they receive from welfare offices" (284).
Kozol puts some of the blame on the parents of the past who neglected their duty to educate themselves, passing off to their illiteracy as an heirloom to their offspring, misery begetting more misery when human survival in our society is almost impossible without the mental ability needed to do so. He, however, puts most of the blame on the government and the education officials whose job it is to ensure that as many as possible should benefit in our democratic and wealthy society, crying that "so long as 60 million Americans are denied significant participation, the government is neither of, nor for, nor by the people" (286).
After laying out the costs paid both by those who suf...
Barry's short essay, while contrasting with Kozol's polemics, even more dramatically points out a deeper problem in society that is related to our thesis that America is losing its mental edge: parents who don't care about their family because they are too busy taking care of a thousand and one details about their family (308). Yes, this seems like a chicken-and-egg argument, but Barry brings home the point that in an America where working hard and smart is the norm, children are not getting the encouragement to prepare themselves for the future. We can only lose if we continue neglecting our children.
This is not to say that Barry was not motivated to go to school nor, like Stephen in Kozol's essay, she was illiterate. She was intelligent and smart, and her opening statements revealed it: School "was a world I absolutely relied on. Without it, I don't know where I would have gone that morning." (307). School was her sanctuary, and it was probably what gave her and her brother the sense to do better than their parents and get out of trouble.
In a way, Barry is more optimistic because school for her became the home she yearned for, a safe and secure haven where people cared and where her teacher, Mrs. Lesane, gave love to those who needed it (308). She showed that if America's teachers are dedicated as her teacher, many children who would otherwise be lost to ignorance can be won over and recovered and can grow up to be happy, creative, and useful citizens who can contribute to making this country great.
Like Kozol, Barry directs her appeal to parents not to neglect their children. Lynda's parents were lucky, because she and her brother were smart, so they turned out alright. Her essay, however, leaves us wondering what