Jonathan Kozol Quotes.
At present, black children are more segregated in their public schools than at any time since 1968. In the inner-city schools I visit, minority children typically represent 95 percent to 99 percent of class enrollment.
I once made a check of all books in my fourth-grade classroom. Of the slightly more than six hundred books, almost one quarter had been published prior to the bombing of Hiroshima; 60 percent were either ten years old or older.
I write books to change the world. Perhaps I can only change one little piece of that world. But if I can empower teachers and good citizens to give these children, who are the poorest of the poor, the same opportunity we give our own kids, then I’ll feel my life has been worth it.
Now, I don’t expect what I write to change things. I think I write now simply as a witness. This is how it is. This is what we have done. This is what we have permitted.
I encourage teachers to speak in their own voices. Don’t use the gibberish of the standards writers.
The first goal and primary function of the U.S. public school is not to educate good people, but good citizens. It is the function which we call – in enemy nations – ‘state indoctrination.’
So long as the most vulnerable people in our population are consigned to places that the rest of us will always shun and flee and view with fear, I am afraid that educational denial, medical and economic devastation, and aesthetic degradation will be inevitable.
It is a commonplace by now to say that the urban school systems of America contain a higher percentage of Negro children each year.
It’s sad that some people who have one exciting moment spend the rest of their lives rehashing it.
A great deal has been written in recent years about the purported lack of motivation in the children of the Negro ghettos. Little in my experience supports this, yet the phrase has been repeated endlessly, and the blame in almost all cases is placed somewhere outside the classroom.
I feel, in the end, as if everything I’ve done has been a failure.
Wonderful teachers should never let themselves be drill sergeants for the state.
Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.
Competitive skills are desperately needed by poor children in America, and realistic recognition of the economic roles that they may someday have an opportunity to fill is obviously important, too. But there is more to life, and there ought to be much more to childhood, than readiness for economic functions.
Many of those who argue for vouchers say that they simply want to use competition to improve public education. I don’t think it works that way, and I’ve been watching this for a longtime.
When I was young, I was religious.
The answers I remember longest are the ones that answer questions that I didn’t think of asking.
Apartheid does not happen spontaneously, like bad weather conditions.
Instead of seeing these children for the blessings that they are, we are measuring them only by the standard of whether they will be future deficits or assets for our nation’s competitive needs.
Public school was never in business to produce Thoreau. It is in business to produce a man like Richard Nixon and, even more, a population like the one which could elect him.
The ‘niche’ effect of charter schools guarantees a swift and vicious deepening of class and racial separation.
Racial segregation has come back to public education with a vengeance.
There has been so much recent talk of progress in the areas of curriculum innovation and textbook revision that few people outside the field of teaching understand how bad most of our elementary school materials still are.
Our nation’s oldest sin and deepest crime is the isolation of minority children – black children, in particular – in schools that are not only segregated but shamefully unequal.
I think a moment of critical energy has suddenly emerged. But moments like this come and go unless we seize them at their height.
Political struggle is the most important thing any of us can do as a citizen in a democracy; and that means the old joining the young to fight for elemental kinds of justice.
At that time, I had recently finished a book called Amazing Grace, which many people tell me is a very painful book to read. Well, if it was painful to read, it was also painful to write. I had pains in my chest for two years while I was writing that book.
It is our nation which is blind, and needs our prayers.
Discrimination is alive and soaring.
I hope to be remembered for writing books about social justice that also have enough aesthetic value to endure as works of literature.
If you grow up in the South Bronx today or in south-central Los Angeles or Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, you quickly come to understand that you have been set apart and that there’s no will in this society to bring you back into the mainstream.
I wrote the first book, and I thought people would say: ‘Separate and unequal schools in the City of Boston? I didn’t know that. Let’s go out and fix it.’
In the book, I write about children in first grade who were taught to read by reading want ads. They learned to write by writing job applications. Imagine what would happen if anyone tried to do that to children in a predominantly white suburban school.
During the decades after Brown v. Board of Education there was terrific progress. Tens of thousands of public schools were integrated racially. During that time the gap between black and white achievement narrowed.
But when I went to Harvard, it kind of got washed out of me, partly because people made fun of you in college. If you said you believed in God, they would look at you clinically, you know, suggest that you needed a referral.
We know that segregation is evil. We know that the sickest children should not go to the worst hospitals.
I’d love to go back and teach primary school. I used to teach fourth grade and fifth grade. I’d love to spend several years teaching kindergarten or maybe third grade.
‘Amazing Grace’ is not a book of interviews or onetime snapshots. It’s a memoir of a journey that took me into a place I had never been and took over two years of my life. I don’t think the people in this book would have said the things to me that they did if they perceived me as a reporter.
You need massive recruitment to tell the poorest of the poor what is possible.
Young children give us glimpses of some things that are eternal.
The inequalities are greater now than in ’92. Some states have equalized per-pupil spending but they set the ‘equal level’ very low, so that wealthy districts simply raise extra money privately.
My goal is to connect the young teachers to the old, to reignite their sense of struggle.
Children sometimes understand things that most grown-ups do not see.
No human being who wants to read and own a book should ever have to go on a bended knee to get it.
An awful lot of people come to college with this strange idea that there’s no longer segregation in America’s schools, that our schools are basically equal; neither of these things is true.
Children are not simply commodities to be herded into line and trained for the jobs that white people who live in segregated neighborhoods have available.
Governor Romney has said nothing about preschool. I think that giving the poorest kids in America wonderful preschool, and three years of it, starting when they are two-and-a-half, is absolutely crucial.
So long as these kinds of inequalities persist, all of us who are given expensive educations have to live with the knowledge that our victories are contaminated because the game has been rigged to our advantage.
By far the most important factor in the success or failure of any school, far more important than tests or standards or business-model methods of accountability, is simply attracting the best-educated, most exciting young people into urban schools and keeping them there.
I think a lot of people don’t have any idea of how deeply segregated our schools have become all over again. Most textbooks are not honest in what they teach our high school students.
Schooling should not be left to the whim or wealth of village elders. I believe that we should fund all schools in the U.S. with our national resources. All these kids are being educated to be Americans, not citizens of Minneapolis or San Francisco.
The last thing the theatre owners wanted was for people who spent $200 to see ‘Les Miserables’ to come out again and see the real miserable children of America, right there on the sidewalk.
The fact that a crime might have been committed with impunity in the past may make it seem more familiar and less gruesome, but surely does not give it any greater legitimacy.
More money is put into prisons than into schools. That, in itself, is the description of a nation bent on suicide. I mean, what is more precious to us than our own children? We are going to build a lot more prisons if we do not deal with the schools and their inequalities.
No Child Left Behind’s fourth-grade gains aren’t learning gains, they’re testing gains. That’s why they don’t last. The law is a distraction from things that really count.
President Obama’s first term in office has been better for intentions than for actual changes in planning and policy. I do believe, and he has several things to this effect, that he would like to provide universal preschool or at least far more preschool for our children.
Our political establishment refuses to use the word ‘segregated.’ They call the schools diverse, which means half black, half Hispanic, and maybe two white kids and three Asians. ‘Diverse’ has become a synonym for ‘segregated.’
The first ten, twelve or fifteen years of life are excavated of inherent moral worth in order to accommodate a regimen of basic training for the adult years that many of the poorest children may not even live to know.
As a matter of record, New York City spends a higher portion of its budget on instruction and associated costs within the schools themselves than any of the other 100 largest districts in the nation.
I beg people not to accept the seasonal ritual of well-timed charity on Christmas Eve. It’s blasphemy.
Like grain in a time of famine, the immense resources which the nation does in fact possess go not to the child in the greatest need but to the children of the highest bidder-the child of parents who, more frequently than not, have also enjoyed the same abundance when they were schoolchildren.
I am opposed to the use of public funds for private education.
You have to remember. . .that for this little boy whom you have met, his life is just as important to him, as your life is to you. No matter how insufficient or how shabby it may seem to some, it is the only one he has.
What I tell these young people is, the world is not as dangerous as the older generation would like you to believe. Anyone I know who has ever taken a risk and lost a job has ended up getting a better one two years later.
The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory.
I have an enormous sense of having failed in life.