Jonathan Kozol is an educator and social justice activist, a fervent and tireless advocate for equal opportunity in American public education. There is no better way to sense the essence of his life's work than to explore his personal web page, whose URL significantly reveals a personal message, www.learntoquestion.com. With the publication, forty-five years ago, of his first book, Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools, Kozol set the stage for a personal crusade against the impeding forces of racial and economic inequality in our nation's poorest urban school districts. This first book is considered a classic in educational literature, and earned Kozol a National Book Award in 1968. It speaks to his own experience, his first year of teaching fourth grade in the Boston public school system. His latest book, Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America, may come to be regarded as his culminating achievement, a testimonial to the children whose early lives he touched and with whom he reconnected to witness a revealing account of the progress of their lives since childhood.
We hope to welcome Jonathan Kozol to campus in spring 2013. This guide is intended to support faculty across the curriculum during the fall 2012 semester in the engagement of their students in the economic, legal, political, and social ramifications of American public education as illuminated by the work of Jonathan Kozol. During the first five weeks of the spring 2013 semester, a one-credit Special Topics course, ED199: Phoenix Dialogues-Exploring the Spirit of Reform, Renewal, and Triumph Through the Work of Jonathan Kozol; will be offered as a prelude to Jonathan Kozol's visit. Each session will be led by a different faculty member, approaching the topic from their own perspective and personal philosophies. Students will be engaged through dynamic reading selections, film, discussions and opportunities for self-revelation focusing on the myriad issues challenging equal opportunity in public education. A special exhibit also will be mounted as a resource in the Library, where the classes will take place.