On Thursday, October 22, approximately 200 people gathered at Pine Manor College to hear Jonathan Kozol – writer, educator, and activist – speak.
For the past thirty-five years, Jonathan Kozol has been an advocate for children. It has been said and written of Mr. Kozol that he points out the discrepancies that make our educational system so blatantly hypocritical. He is not the only advocate of the forgotten pupil, yet he has been among the most vocal and active. As a teacher, he has taught pre-schoolers to high school seniors to college pupils. He has always stressed teaching the children, reacting to the times, organizing parental support, and building support among teachers.
It is interesting to note that Jonathan Kozol spoke at Pine Manor College in 1967. And it was here that Upward Bound really began. He addressed then, as he does now, political, social and economic situations that impact our educational system. In particular, Mr. Kozol has stressed that unequal access to early education has lasting and profound effects. He spoke about the importance of quality PreK-4 programs making a difference in the lives of all children.
Mr. Kozol has authored many books over the span of his career, many which have won awards and been found on national best seller lists. Death at an Early Age, a description of his first year as a teacher, won the 1968 National Book Award. Other works have included Rachel and her Children, which studied homeless mothers and their children. In 1995, Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, was both a best seller and National Book Award winner. Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools, is his book written in 1991 that discusses the disparities in education between schools of different classes and races. In 2005, The Shame of a Nation presented a searing look at the pervasiveness of racial isolation in inner city schools, and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list within a week of publication. The audience for his work has been both broad and deep. Mr. Kozol has recently authored Fire in the Ashes, which narrates the story of a group of children in a destitute community, following them from infancy, thru elementary and secondary school grades, and into their teen years and adulthood.
Mr. Kozol remains a passionate, informed, and literate voice in the fields of education and social justice. His speech was riveting. Within moments of beginning, he captured the attention of the very diverse audience with his humor, his experiences, and his life long quest for social justice. The captivated group who had the privilege of hearing Jonathan Kozol came away with a full appreciation for the man and his life’s work in support of education and social equality.