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Jonathan Kozol Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Jonathan Kozol.

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Jonathan Kozol Quotes 1418672

The willingness to relegate a person in my father's situation to a lower and less vigilant degree of medical attention was an accurate reflection of the values of a social system which, as I had learned in my own work in education, measures human life, more frequently than not, in rather hard-nosed and explicit terms of future payoff to the national well-being. — Jonathan Kozol

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Many of those who argue for vouchers say that they simply want to use competition to improve public education. I don't think it works that way, and I've been watching this for a longtime. — Jonathan Kozol

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I tell young teachers who are determined to dissent from some of the Draconian aspects of the current orthodoxy that the best form of protection is to be incredibly good at what you do and keep good discipline in class. — Jonathan Kozol

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Unlike these powerful grown-ups, children have no ideologies to reinforce, no superstructure of political opinion to promote, no civic equanimity or image to defend, no personal reputation to secure. — Jonathan Kozol

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You need massive recruitment to tell the poorest of the poor what is possible. — Jonathan Kozol

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Instead of seeing these children for the blessings that they are, we are measuring them only by the standard of whether they will be future deficits or assets for our nation's competitive needs. — Jonathan Kozol

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Wonderful teachers should never let themselves be drill sergeants for the state. — Jonathan Kozol

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Public school was never in business to produce Thoreau. It is in business to produce a man like Richard Nixon and, even more, a population like the one which could elect him. — Jonathan Kozol

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I think a lot of people don't have any idea of how deeply segregated our schools have become all over again. Most textbooks are not honest in what they teach our high school students. — Jonathan Kozol

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Political struggle is the most important thing any of us can do as a citizen in a democracy; and that means the old joining the young to fight for elemental kinds of justice. — Jonathan Kozol

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I feel, in the end, as if everything I've done has been a failure. — Jonathan Kozol

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The primary victims of Katrina, those who were given the least help by the government, those rescued last or not at all, were overwhelmingly people of color largely hidden from the mainstream of society. — Jonathan Kozol

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Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. — Jonathan Kozol

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Let's concede that we have decided to let our children grow up in two separate nations, and lead two separate kinds of lives. If, on the other hand, we have the courage to rise to this challenge to name what's happening within our inner-city schools, then we also need the courage to be activist and go out and fight like hell to change it. — Jonathan Kozol

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Businessmen are not in business to lose customers, and schools do not exist to free their clients from the agencies of mass persuasion. School and media possess a productive monopoly upon the imagination of a child. — Jonathan Kozol

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I have been criticized throughout the course of my career for placing too much faith in the reliability of children's narratives; but I have almost always found that children are a great deal more reliable in telling us what actually goes on in public school than many of the adult experts who develop policies that shape their destinies. — Jonathan Kozol

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What I tell these young people is, the world is not as dangerous as the older generation would like you to believe. Anyone I know who has ever taken a risk and lost a job has ended up getting a better one two years later. — Jonathan Kozol

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Consider what it is like to go into a new classroom and to see before you suddenly, and in a way you cannot avoid recognizing, the dreadful consequences of a year's wastage of so many lives. — Jonathan Kozol

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Children sometimes understand things that most grown-ups do not see. — Jonathan Kozol

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Charity isn't a good substitute for justice. — Jonathan Kozol

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This, then, is the dread that seems to lie beneath the fear of equalizing. Equity is seen as dispossession. Local autonomy is seen as liberty
even if the poverty of those in nearby cities robs them o fall meaningful autonomy by narrowing their choices to the meanest and the shabbiest of options. In this way, defendants in these cases seem to polarize two of the principles that lie close to the origins of this republic. Liberty and equity are seen as antibodies to each other. — Jonathan Kozol

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No Child Left Behind widens the gap between the races more than any piece of educational legislation I've seen in 40 years. It denies inner-city kids the critical-thinking skills to interrogate reality. — Jonathan Kozol

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Children long for this - a voice, a way of being heard - but many sense that there is no one in the world to hear their words, so they are drawn to ways of malice. If they cannot sing, they scream. They are vessels of the spirit but the spirit sometimes is entombed; it can't get out, and so they smash it! — Jonathan Kozol

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During the decades after Brown v. Board of Education there was terrific progress. Tens of thousands of public schools were integrated racially. During that time the gap between black and white achievement narrowed. — Jonathan Kozol

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Placing the burden on the individual to break down doors in finding better education for a child is attractive to conservatives because it reaffirms their faith in individual ambition and autonomy. But to ask an individual to break down doors that we have chained and bolted in advance of his arrival is unfair. — Jonathan Kozol

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Like grain in a time of famine, the immense resources which the nation does in fact possess go not to the child in the greatest need but to the children of the highest bidder-the child of parents who, more frequently than not, have also enjoyed the same abundance when they were schoolchildren. — Jonathan Kozol

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As damaging as the obsessive emphasis on testing often proves to be for kids in general, I believe that the effects are still more harmful in those schools in which the resources available to help the children learn the skills that will be measured by these tests are fewest, the scores they get are predictably the lowest, and the strategies resorted to by principals in order to escape the odium attaching to a disappointing set of numbers tend to be the most severe. — Jonathan Kozol

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I can say it, but it doesn't seem convincing to most people. I can call it an 'injustice,' but that doesn't always sink in either. You have to understand the nature of the culture in New York. Words that are equal to the pain of the poor are pretty easily discredited. A quarter of the truth, stated with lots of indirection, is regarded as more seemly.

Even when people do accept the idea of 'injustice,' there are ways to live with it without it causing you to change a great deal in your life. A mildly embarrassed toleration of injustice is an elemental part of cultural sophistication here. the stile is, 'Oh yes. We know all that. So tell us something new.' There's a kind of cultivated weariness in this. Talking about injustice, I am told, is 'tiresome' unless you do it in a way that sounds amusing. — Jonathan Kozol

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There has been so much recent talk of progress in the areas of curriculum innovation and textbook revision that few people outside the field of teaching understand how bad most of our elementary school materials still are. — Jonathan Kozol

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Two years ago, George Bush felt prompted to address this issue. More spending on public education, said the president, isn't "the best answer." Mr. Bush went on to caution parents of poor children who see money "as a cure" for education problems. "A society that worships money ... ," said the president, "is a society in peril." The president himself attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts - a school that spends $11,000 yearly on each pupil, not including costs of room and board. If money is a wise investment for the education of a future president at Andover, it is no less so for the child of poor people in Detroit. But the climate of the times does not encourage this belief, and the president's words will surely reinforce that climate. — Jonathan Kozol

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'Savage Inequalities' was about school finance, and 'Amazing Grace' primarily dealt with medical and social injustices in New York. But with 'Ordinary Resurrections,' I had no predetermined agenda. When I met with the children, I was not in pursuit of any line of thinking. In our conversations, I let them lead me where they wanted to go. — Jonathan Kozol

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We should invest in kids like these," we're told, "because it will be more expensive not to." Why do our natural compassion and religious inclinations need to find a surrogate in dollar savings to be voiced or acted on? Why not give these kids the best we have because we are a wealthy nation and they are children and deserve to have some fun while they are still less than four feet high? — Jonathan Kozol

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The fact that a crime might have been committed with impunity in the past may make it seem more familiar and less gruesome, but surely does not give it any greater legitimacy. — Jonathan Kozol

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Good teachers don't approach a child of this age with overzealousness or with destructive conscientiousness. They're not drill-masters in the military or floor managers in a production system. They are specialists in opening small packages. They give the string a tug but do it carefully. They don't yet know what's in the box. They don't know if it's breakable. — Jonathan Kozol

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Racial segregation has come back to public education with a vengeance. — Jonathan Kozol

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The rich ... should beg the poor to forgive us for the bread we bring them. Healthy people sometimes feel they need to beg forgiveness too, although there is no reason why. Maybe we simply ask forgiveness for not being born where these poor women have been born, knowing that if we lived here too, our fate might well have been the same. — Jonathan Kozol

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Children are not simply commodities to be herded into line and trained for the jobs that white people who live in segregated neighborhoods have available. — Jonathan Kozol

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[Of] particular importance is the relationship between education and the political process. — Jonathan Kozol

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But what is now encompassed by the one word ("school") are two very different kinds of institutions that, in function, finance and intention, serve entirely different roles. Both are needed for our nation's governance. But children in one set of schools are educated to be governors; children in the other set of schools are trained for being governed. The former are given the imaginative range to mobilize ideas for economic growth; the latter are provided with the discipline to do the narrow tasks the first group will prescribe. — Jonathan Kozol

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A four-year-old says, "My mommy lives in heaven. Her eyelashes go down instead of up because she is ... in heaven, but I miss her." She feels consoled that her mother "is with God," who, she says, "has pink whiskers, red hair, and two feet. ... I did not want her to die until I died. I think I am going to die too in a little while. — Jonathan Kozol

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East St. Louis-which the local press refers to as "an inner city without an outer city"-has some of the sickest children in America. Of 66 cities in Illinois, East St. Louis ranks first in fetal death, first in premature birth, and third in infant health. — Jonathan Kozol

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Congress has an opportunity to take advantage of the opening created by Justice Kennedy later this year when it reauthorizes the federal No Child Left Behind Act. — Jonathan Kozol

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On Mondays and Fridays in early May, nearly 18,000 children-the equivalent of all the elementary students in suburban Glencoe, Wilmette, Glenview, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Deerfield, Highland Park and Evanston-are assigned to classes with no teacher. — Jonathan Kozol

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In the book, I write about children in first grade who were taught to read by reading want ads. They learned to write by writing job applications. Imagine what would happen if anyone tried to do that to children in a predominantly white suburban school. — Jonathan Kozol

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The 'niche' effect of charter schools guarantees a swift and vicious deepening of class and racial separation. — Jonathan Kozol

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I do not know very much about painting, but I know enough to know that the Art Teacher did not know much about it either and that, furthermore, she did not know or care anything at all about the way in which you can destroy a human being. Stephen, in many ways already dying, died a second and third and fourth and final death before her anger. — Jonathan Kozol

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I'd love to go back and teach primary school. I used to teach fourth grade and fifth grade. I'd love to spend several years teaching kindergarten or maybe third grade. — Jonathan Kozol

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The contrasts between what is spent today to educate a child in the poorest New York City neighborhoods, where teacher salaries are often even lower than the city averages, and spending levels in the wealthiest suburban areas are daunting challenges to any hope New Yorkers might retain that even semblances of fairness still prevail. — Jonathan Kozol

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I believe we need a national amendment which will guarantee every child in America the promise of not just an equal education but a high-quality equal education. — Jonathan Kozol

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I wrote the first book, and I thought people would say: 'Separate and unequal schools in the City of Boston? I didn't know that. Let's go out and fix it.' — Jonathan Kozol

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The first ten, twelve or fifteen years of life are excavated of inherent moral worth in order to accommodate a regimen of basic training for the adult years that many of the poorest children may not even live to know. — Jonathan Kozol

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I hope to be remembered for writing books about social justice that also have enough aesthetic value to endure as works of literature. — Jonathan Kozol

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So long as these kinds of inequalities persist, all of us who are given expensive educations have to live with the knowledge that our victories are contaminated because the game has been rigged to our advantage. — Jonathan Kozol

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The trouble is not that schools don't work; they do. They're excellent machines for achieving historically accepted purposes. In suburban schools are children of the rich, who grow up to privilege and anesthetic oblivion to pain - and who then use the servants produced by ghetto schools. — Jonathan Kozol

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Research experts want to know what can be done about the values of poor segregated children; and this is a question that needs asking. But they do not ask what can be done about the values of the people who have segregated these communities. There is no academic study of the pathological detachment of the very rich ... — Jonathan Kozol

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I have an enormous sense of having failed in life. — Jonathan Kozol

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Our nation's oldest sin and deepest crime is the isolation of minority children - black children, in particular - in schools that are not only segregated but shamefully unequal. — Jonathan Kozol

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People who know but do not act do evil too. I don't know if I would call them evil but they're certainly not thinking about heaven. — Jonathan Kozol

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The last thing the theatre owners wanted was for people who spent $200 to see 'Les Miserables' to come out again and see the real miserable children of America, right there on the sidewalk. — Jonathan Kozol

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People rarely speak of children; you hear of 'cohort groups' and 'standard variations,' but you don't hear much of boys who miss their cats or 6-year-olds who have to struggle with potato balls. — Jonathan Kozol

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An awful lot of people come to college with this strange idea that there's no longer segregation in America's schools, that our schools are basically equal; neither of these things is true. — Jonathan Kozol

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By far the most important factor in the success or failure of any school, far more important than tests or standards or business-model methods of accountability, is simply attracting the best-educated, most exciting young people into urban schools and keeping them there. — Jonathan Kozol

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When I was young, I was religious. — Jonathan Kozol

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Many suburban legislators representing affluent school districts use terms such as "sinkhole" when opposing funding for Chicago's children. "We can't keep throwing money," said Governor Thompson in 1988, "into a black hole." The Chicago Tribune notes that, when this phrase is used, people hasten to explain that it is not intended as a slur against the race of many of Chicago's children. "But race," says the Tribune, "never is far from the surface ... — Jonathan Kozol

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A great deal has been written in recent years about the purported lack of motivation in the children of the Negro ghettos. Little in my experience supports this, yet the phrase has been repeated endlessly, and the blame in almost all cases is placed somewhere outside the classroom. — Jonathan Kozol

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Equity, after all, does not mean simply equal funding. Equal funding for unequal needs is not equality. — Jonathan Kozol

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There is a belief advanced today, and in some cases by conservative black authors, that poor children and particularly black children should not be allowed to hear too much about these matters. If they learn how much less they are getting than rich children, we are told, this knowledge may induce them to regard themselves as "victims," and such "victim-thinking," it is argued, may then undermine their capacity to profit from whatever opportunities may actually exist. But this is a matter of psychology-or strategy-and not reality. The matter, in any case, is academic since most adolescents in the poorest neighborhoods learn very soon that they are getting less than children in the wealthier school districts. They see suburban schools on television and they see them when they travel for athletic competitions. It is a waste of time to worry whether we should tell them something they could tell to us. About injustice, most poor children in American cannot be fooled. — Jonathan Kozol

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I urge you to be teachers so that you can join with children as the co-collaborators in a plot to build a little place of ecstasy and poetry and gentle joy — Jonathan Kozol

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The future teachers I try to recruit are those show have refused to let themselves be neutered in this way, either in their private lives or in the lives that they intend to lead in school. When they begin to teach, they come into their classrooms with a sense of affirmation of the goodness and the fullness of existence, with a sense of satisfaction in discovering the unexpected in their students, and with a longing to surprise the world, their kids, even themselves, with their capacity to leave each place they've been ... a better and more joyful place than it was when they entered it. — Jonathan Kozol

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That is the great luxury of long-existing and accepted segregation in New York and almost every other major city of our nation nowadays. Nothing needs to be imposed on anyone. The evil is already set in stone. We just move in. — Jonathan Kozol

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The New Jersey constitution, says the court in its decision, requires that all students be provided with an opportunity to compete fairly for a place in our society. ... Pole vaulters using bamboo poles even with the greatest effort cannot compete with pole vaulters using aluminum poles. — Jonathan Kozol

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When they pray, what do they say to God? — Jonathan Kozol

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I always want to tell these young idealists that the world is not as dangerous as many in the older generation want them to believe ... The [people] for whom I feel the greatest sadness are the ones who choke on their beliefs, who never act on their ideals, who never know the state of struggle in a decent cause, and never know the thrill of even partial victories. — Jonathan Kozol

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I beg people not to accept the seasonal ritual of well-timed charity on Christmas Eve. It's blasphemy. — Jonathan Kozol

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I believe that the wilderness is where God is found. — Jonathan Kozol

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According to our textbook rhetoric, Americans abhor the notion of a social order in which economic privilege and political power are determined by hereditary class. Officially, we have a more enlightened goal in sight: namely, a society in which a family's wealth has no relation to the probability of future educational attainment and the wealth and station it affords. By this standard, education offered to poor children should be at least as good as that which is provided to the children of the upper-middle class. — Jonathan Kozol

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Governor Romney has said nothing about preschool. I think that giving the poorest kids in America wonderful preschool, and three years of it, starting when they are two-and-a-half, is absolutely crucial. — Jonathan Kozol

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A culture in which guilt is automatically assumed to be neurotic and unhealthy has devised a remarkably clever way of protecting its self-interest. — Jonathan Kozol

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The White House, in advancing the agenda for a [school] "choice" plan, rests its faith on market mechanisms. What reason have the black and very poor to lend their credence to a market system that has proved so obdurate and so resistant to their pleas at every turn? — Jonathan Kozol

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Unless we have the wealth to pay for private education, we are compelled by law to go to public school - and to the public school in our district. Thus the state, by requiring attendance but refusing to require equity, effectively requires inequality. Compulsory inequity, perpetuated by state law, too frequently condemns our children to unequal lives. — Jonathan Kozol

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What may be learned from the rebuttals made by the defendants in New Jersey and from the protests that were sparked by the decision of the court? Much of the resistance, it appears, derives from a conservative anxiety that equity equates to "leveling." The fear that comes across in many of the letters and the editorials in the New Jersey press is that democratizing opportunity will undermine diversity and even elegance in our society and that the best schools will be dragged down to a sullen norm, a mediocre middle ground of uniformity. References to Eastern European socialism keep appearing in these letters. — Jonathan Kozol

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In many of the high schools in the South Bronx, more children will end up in prison than will go to college. — Jonathan Kozol

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It is a commonplace by now to say that the urban school systems of America contain a higher percentage of Negro children each year. — Jonathan Kozol

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I do get scared about the physical danger from drug dealers. But it's not in the same league as the danger I feel eating an $80 lunch with my privileged friends to discuss hunger and poverty. That's when my soul feels imperiled. — Jonathan Kozol

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Apartheid does not happen spontaneously, like bad weather conditions. — Jonathan Kozol

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No Child Left Behind's fourth-grade gains aren't learning gains, they're testing gains. That's why they don't last. The law is a distraction from things that really count. — Jonathan Kozol

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Evil exists," he says, not flinching at the word. "I believe that what the rich have done to the poor people in this city is something that a preacher would call evil. Somebody has power. Pretending that they don't so they don't need to use it to help people-that is my idea of evil. — Jonathan Kozol

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Young children give us glimpses of some things that are eternal. — Jonathan Kozol

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My goal is to connect the young teachers to the old, to reignite their sense of struggle. — Jonathan Kozol

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Well, teachers have been profoundly demoralized in recent years and are often treated with contempt by politicians. There's a great deal of reckless rhetoric in Washington about the mediocrity of the teaching profession - and I don't find that to be true at all. — Jonathan Kozol

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The inequalities are greater now than in '92. Some states have equalized per-pupil spending but they set the 'equal level' very low, so that wealthy districts simply raise extra money privately. — Jonathan Kozol

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In schools with a history of chaos, the teacher who can keep the classroom calm becomes virtually indispensable. — Jonathan Kozol

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If we allow public funds to be used to support our relatively benign, morally grounded schools, we will have to allow those public funds to be used for any type of private school. — Jonathan Kozol

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Nationally, overwhelmingly non-white schools receive $1,000 less per pupil than overwhelmingly white schools. — Jonathan Kozol

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Separate and unequal didn't work 100 years ago. It will not work today. — Jonathan Kozol

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We continue, however, to write about important people, prize-winning people, blacks of grandeur, women of great fire, fame or wit. We do not write about ordinary people. — Jonathan Kozol

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Sometimes," he [Congressmen John Lewis] said, "you have to ask for something that you know you may not get. And still you have to ask for it. It's still worth fighting for and, even if you don't believe that you will see it in your lifetime, you have got to hold it up so that the generation that comes next will take it from your hands and, in their own time, see it as a goal worth fighting for again. — Jonathan Kozol

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If there are amazing graces on this earth, I believe that they are these good children sent to us by God and not yet soiled by the knowledge that their nation does not love them. — Jonathan Kozol

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You have to remember ... that for this little boy whom you have met, his life is just as important to him, as your life is to you. No matter how insufficient or how shabby it may seem to some, it is the only one he has. — Jonathan Kozol

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I write books to change the world. Perhaps I can only change one little piece of that world. 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. — Jonathan Kozol