RENOWNED EDUCATOR JONATHAN KOZOL CRITICIZES THE BUSH BROTHERS by Roxanne Escobales

11/16/06

Education activist and former teacher Jonathan Kozol (KOE-zuhl) gained national fame for his 1967 work Death at an Early Age, his account of teaching at an inner city school in Boston. After that he became involved in the civil rights movement and has written several award-winning books on the racial inequalities of the American school system. As guest speaker, he brought his insight and ire to a luncheon celebrating USF’s 50th anniversary. WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales has more.

Speaking with passion and wit, Jonathan Kozol told the audience of 600 that he was not going to sugar the bitter pill of his message.

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And Kozol knows this because for the past five years, he has visited 60 schools in 11 states, including Florida.

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His previous three books took place in the South Bronx, which is the poorest congressional district in the US. His journey began as a privileged Harvard graduate who turned his back on the Ivy League and started teaching in the black schools of Roxbury, Massachusetts. He marched with Dr Martin Luther King Junior in Boston in the 1960s.

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But today, the racial divide has grown to include Hispanic children.

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Jonathan Kozol promotes smaller class sizes. Large classes are an affliction he says strikes inner city schools more than suburban ones.

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Throughout his speech, Kozol threw veiled criticism at Governor Jeb Bush and his brother the president. But when it came to the state’s class size amendment, he attacked directly.

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Standardized tests, including Florida’s FCAT, and the national No Child Left Behind requirements also came under fire.

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These education programs taken hold under the Republican leadership of Governor Jeb Bush in Florida and nationally under the administration of his brother, President George W Bush. But Kozol says the Democrats cannot be let off the hook either.

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And Kozol had strong advice for the audience of educators and business people.

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Jonathan Kozol writes about his experience visiting five dozen schools throughout the States over five years in his book The Shame of a Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid in America.

For WMNF News. I’m Roxanne Escobales.

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