Noted education activist Jonathan Kozol to speak at RIC Oct. 22

Jonathan Kozol
Writer, educator and activist Jonathan Kozol, who The Chicago Sun-Times called “today's most eloquent spokesman for America’s disenfranchised,” will speak at RIC on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 4 p.m. in Roberts Hall Auditorium. Kozol will address the topic “Joy and Justice: An invitation to the Young to Serve the Children of the Poor.”

The event is free and open to the public.

In 1964, Kozol, a Harvard grad and Rhodes scholarship awardee, moved from his Cambridge, Mass., residence into a poor black neighborhood in Boston, where he taught fourth grade. His first year of teaching there was recounted in his 1967 classic “Death at an Early Age,” which won the National Book Award in Science, Philosophy, and Religion and has sold over two million copies.

Kozol also wrote the award-winning books “Rachel and Her Children,” about homeless mothers and their children and “Savage Inequalities,” which contrasts the differences between the schools of affluent and poor neighborhoods. His 1995 bestseller, “Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation,” detailed his visits to the South Bronx of New York, the poorest congressional district of America. Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison described the work as “good in the old-fashioned sense: beautiful and morally worthy.”

In 2005, “The Shame of the Nation” exposed what he called the “apartheid existence" experienced by the inner-city children he found in visiting and revisiting nearly 60 public schools in 30 different districts in 11 states.

Kozol’s 2007 book “Letters to a Young Teacher” offers guidance to the newest generation of teachers, and addresses the problems of high-stakes testing, the appearance of predatory private corporations in public schools and the enduring inequalities of urban education.

“Letters” also reflects Kozol’s joy in teaching. In one letter, he writes, “Even in the most adverse conditions, the work of a good teacher ought to be an act of stalwart celebration. It is in that sense of celebration, in my own belief at least, that teachers who have chosen out of love to work with children find their ultimate reward.”

Kozol continues to work with teachers in the classroom, and speak to future teachers in colleges and universities. His most recent efforts include trying to convince government leaders and advisors to radically revise the punitive aspects of the No Child Left Behind education act.

Event flyer