DEKALB, Ill. — For nearly 50 years, Jonathan Kozol has dedicated his life to addressing the increasingly complex and urgent issues that face public education, including the challenge of providing equal opportunities to every child, regardless of racial origin or economic status.
Kozol is among the most respected and eloquent writers and speakers on public education. He has had numerous books on multiple best seller lists and has been the recipient of many national awards, including the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and numerous others.
Kozol will speak at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the auditorium of DeKalb High School. The title of his talk is “Fire In the Ashes: The Deepening Crisis in Our Public Schools — Victims and Survivors.” The presentation is free and open to all.
Kozol is the most widely read and highly honored education writer in America and was called “today’s most eloquent spokesman for America’s disenfranchised” by the Chicago Sun-Times.
His first book, Death At an Early Age, a description of his first year as a teacher in one of the poorest of Boston’s public schools, was published in 1967 and received the 1968 National Book Award in Science, Philosophy and Religion. This book is regarded as a classic by educators and has sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S. and Europe.
Now, Kozol’s newest book, Fire in the Ashes, released at the end of August, is a powerful and culminating work about a group of inner-city children he has known for many years. Kozol returns to the scene of his prize-winning books Savage Inequalities, The Shame of a Nation and Amazing Grace, and to the children he so vividly portrayed, to share with us their fascinating journeys and unexpected victories as they grow up into adulthood.
Kozol tells the stories of young men and women who have come of age in one of the most destitute communities in the United States. Some never do recover from the battering they undergo in their early years, but many more battle back with fierce and often jubilant determination to overcome the many obstacles they face.
Kozol weaves his discussion with the challenges of education and politics; as he addresses the struggles of public schools, public educators and the pressures they endure, education disparities and the ethically complicated challenges facing parents, children and educators today.
“We hope anyone who is involved with children and adolescents in any way, or care about education and teachers, come out to hear what Mr. Kozol has to say,” said Dan Kenney, DeKalb teacher and the coordinator of the event. “We seldom have an opportunity to hear the perspective of someone with the kind of experiences Jonathan Kozol has had. He has long been the conscience of U.S. public education. He will have much to add to our conversation about education in our local schools at all levels.”
Kozol has also spent time over the recent years working with members of Congress and advisers to President Barack Obama to reduce the punitive aspects of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.
Barnes and Noble of DeKalb will be selling copies of his newest book and others after the talk. Kozol will be available to sign copies of books purchased the night of the event.
For more about the talk, contact Kenney at (815) 793-0950.
From the Sept. 19-25, 2012, issue