Sunday, September 04, 2005

Jonathan Kozol: Cutting through spin

Jonathan Kozol's brief interview in the NYT is a must-read. I'm thankful he's not afraid to speak the truth about what's going on in public education as we're inundated with edu-spinmeisters such as the diva Spellings, the corporate media, and even the corporate jackals within our own party, the DLC.
Q: Children who return to school this week will be returning to segregated schools, with one system for whites and an inferior one for minorities. Or so you argue in your new book, ''The Shame of the Nation.''

A: 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.

Q: You also suggest that our current system of locally financed schools be abolished, claiming that it perpetuates inequality by allowing suburbs like Scarsdale or Manhasset to spend twice as much on each student as less affluent cities do.

A: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.
And more.

He's got a new book The Shame of the Nation, excerpted in Harper's as an article although I urge you to buy his book or buy Harper's September issue.

LAT has a piece on Kozol, which includes opposing views from major right-wing thinktankers. But it does end with why Kozol is on his path (he identifies with the civil rights worker Schwerner, killed in Mississippi in 1964).
"I write books to change the world. Perhaps I can only change one little piece of that world," Kozol says. "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."