Jonathan Kozol, Author and Advocate of Equality in Education, to Lecture at Doane

Should the place of one's birth determine the quality of one's education?

Jonathan KozolThat is a question Dr. Jonathan Kozol - an educator, author and activist  - has posed for decades. He will ask it of Doane students and the public when he shares stories from his career at the college's Crete campus March 27, beginning at 7 p.m. in Heckman Auditorium.

Inequity and solutions for change are at the root of Kozol's career, which spans the Civil Rights era to present day.  His groundbreaking work in education and the social sciences is fundamental to the understanding of the role that poverty plays in the education of America's youth and how school systems do not meet the needs of all children. 

Doane's Education Department uses a selection of Kozol's books in its curriculum to help students see that the educational system is not set up for everyone, said Dr. Lyn Forester, chair of the Education Division and dean of the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction Program. "I think that he brings to our students a better understanding of the state of education and the impact of our current educational/political policies in terms of inequalities found in American schools," Forester said. "His books are sociological and educational studies in terms of what our society does or doesn't do for children."

Kozol was a teacher himself for several years before leaving to pursue writing and social justice work. His first book, Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools, won the National Book Award in the late ‘60s. It describes his first year as a teacher in Boston Public Schools, where he was fired for teaching a Langston Hughes poem. He became deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement.

Called an advocate of "the forgotten pupil," his numerous non-fiction works also include: Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America, which received the Robert F. Kennedy Book award; Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, which described his visits to the South Bronx, the poorest congressional district of America; and Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools. More recent works include: The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America (2005). Kozol has also written about the continuing segregation of black and Hispanic children in public schools.

His studies examine the differences between rich and poor school districts and the gap in per-student spending between suburban communities and urban communities.

Kozol is a graduate of Harvard University. He held two Guggenheim Fellowships and was twice a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation. He founded non-profit organizations, including the Cambridge Institute for Public Education,  a group dedicated to grassroots organizing of teachers across the country who "wish to help create an equitable and enlightened model of public education for a democratic nation."

The free public lecture by Kozol, sponsored by Doane's Hansen Leadership Program, will be of interest to students of many fields and to parents, Forester said.

For more information, contact Carrie Petr, director of the Hansen Leadership program at

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