Friday, September 23, 2005

Jonathan Kozol's visit to SF's Tenderloin Elementary School

Jonathan Kozol visited San Francisco's Tenderloin Elementary School on Wednesday to bring his urgent CALL TO ACTION to us [Progressive Commissioners Mark Sanchez and Sarah Lipson were in the front row, Vice President Norman Yee was in the back row with me and teacher and United Educators of SF Exec Board member Sandra Chin Mar, my partner].
Since his 1967 expose "Death at an Early Age" about his early experiences as a young teacher dealing the racism and class inequality in Boston's schools, Kozol has been unrelenting in his advocacy and expressions of moral outrage about the inequities in our country's schools.
Now Kozol is on tour promoting his newest book The Shame of the Nation: the restoration of apartheid schooling in America.
One thing I respect about Kozol is his courage in standing up to big business groups, opportunistic politicians and 'traveling charletans' passing themselves off as silver bullet education reformers. I also appreciate his progressive vision of what education should be and his sharp critique of high stakes testing and how it is ruining our education system, or as he says, causing "mental decapitation" of students as well as "fear among teachers" and principals "running scared" who want to resist but won't.
In his CALL TO ACTION to SF Unified School District, Kozol said to the mostly younger teachers, squirming administrators and smiling school board members like me,
"I don't want to get you into trouble, but I will help you cause trouble!"
With the rightward direction in education that Bush and his Secretary Spellings and Arnold and his Secretary Riordan are steering us towards it seems to me that Kozol's call must be heard by many more to build the social movements we need to change the political course for our schools.

Shari L's 'An Old Soul' Blog is one of my favorites -
Here's her thinking on Kozol's relevance to teaching/schooling and how we can turn the tide against the the Bush administration:
An old soul blog - on Kozol

For other great books and resources on educational justice and equity - go to DC's teaching for change -
or Milwaukee's Rethinking Schools website

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