Jonathan Kozol

Jonathan Kozol

Speaker: Jonathan Kozol

 Education expert


  • Inequalities in Public Education
  • Race, Poverty and Public Education

Jonathan Kozol, the most widely read and highly honored education writer in the nation, is a former teacher and Rhodes Scholar and one of the most eloquent and stirring Keynote Speakers on the enormous challenges facing public schools at a time when child poverty has risen to unprecedented levels and racial inequality has become the focus of urgent political attention.


Death at an Early Age, a description of his first year as a teacher, received the 1968 National Book Award in Science, Philosophy, and Religion. Among his other major works are Rachel and Her Children, a study of homeless mothers and their children, which received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and Savage Inequalities, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992. His 1995 best-seller, Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 1996, an honor previously granted to the works of Langston Hughes and Dr. Martin Luther King. Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison wrote that Amazing Grace was “good in the old-fashioned sense: beautiful and morally worthy.” Elie Wiesel said, “Jonathan’s struggle is noble. His outcry must shake our nation out of its guilty indifference.”


Ten years later, in The Shame of the Nation, a description of conditions that he found in nearly 60 public schools, Jonathan wrote that inner-city children were more isolated racially than at any time since federal courts began dismantling the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. The Shame of the Nation appeared on The New York Times bestseller list the week that it was published.


Jonathan’s most recent book is Fire in the Ashes, a sweeping narrative that follows a group of children in a destitute community out of their infancy and elementary grades, through their secondary years, into their late teens, and beyond. Some of their stories are painful and heart-breaking, but others are dramatic tributes to the resilience and audacity of courageous children who refuse to be defeated by the obstacles they face and find their way at last to unexpected and triumphal victories.


Speaking before overflow crowds at universities and conferences across the nation, Jonathan illuminates the burning issues facing educators in districts large and small: the persistence of the racial gap, the excessive pressure on teaching-to-the-test, the underfunding of the schools that serve the poorest and most vulnerable children, and the continuing denial of rich developmental preschool education to millions of our youngest kids who need these opportunities the most. But Jonathan’s talks do not leave his listeners feeling overwhelmed or helpless in the face of these enormous odds. “Look for battles big enough to matter but small enough to win,” he tells his loyal fans. They come away from his books and speeches with a sense of fortitude and courage for the struggles that remain.

Inequalities in Public Education


Race, Poverty and Public Education


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