Over the past several years, Jonathan Kozol has visited nearly 60 public schools. Virtually everywhere, he finds that conditions have grown worse for inner-city children in the 15 years since federal courts began dismantling the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. First, a state of nearly absolute apartheid now prevails in thousands of our schools. The segregation of black children has reverted to a level that the nation has not seen since 1968. Few of the students in these schools know white children any longer. Second, a protomilitary form of discipline has now emerged, modeled on stick-and-carrot methods of behavioral control traditionally used in prisons but targeted exclusively at black and Hispanic children. And third, as high-stakes testing takes on pathological and punitive dimensions, liberal education in our inner-city schools has been increasingly replaced by culturally barren and robotic methods of instruction that would be rejected out of hand by schools that serve the mainstream of society.
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'Among the many virtues of Jonathan Kozol's strong and often beautiful books is that we cannot forget for even an instant that the poor are of our kind and live but a moment away. . . . There must be something special about Kozola warmth, a gentleness, a kind of mournful decencythat brings out the extraordinary in others.' Kai Erikson, The Nation.
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In the passion of the civil rights campaigns of 1964 and 1965, Jonathan Kozol gave up the prospect of a promising career in the academic world, moved from Harvard Square into a poor black neighborhood of Boston, and became a fourth grade teacher. He has since devoted nearly his entire life to the challenge of providing equal opportunity to every child in our public schools.
Jonathan Kozol is the author of Death at an Early Age, Savage Inequalities, Amazing Grace, and other award-winning books about young children and their public schools.
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