Lecture On "Teachers And Children In Urban Schools" By Jonathan Kozol Kicks Off Spring Semester's Focus On Public Education At Mount Holyoke College

For immediate release
January 21, 1999
Please call Sarah Grolnic-McClurg at 413-538-2030.


Kozol lecture to be held February 10 at 7:30 pm at Chapin Auditorium

South Hadley, MA--How can we achieve excellence and equality in education for everyone? This critical question faces us at the beginning of the twenty-first century and requires an urgent answer. The Center for Leadership and Public Interest Advocacy at Mount Holyoke College will address this critical issue with a series of speakers and symposia entitled, Choices and Challenges for Public Education: Agenda for the 21st Century.The events, which launch with a lecture by noted social activist Jonathan Kozol on February 10, will examine the complex problems faced by our schools.

To begin the series, Kozol, author of seven award-winning books which focus on the plight of disadvantaged children in America, will present a keynote address on "Teachers and Children in the Urban Schools" on the evening of February 10 on the Mount Holyoke campus. The event is free and open to the public and will begin at 7:30 pm in Chapin Auditorium.

"The series on public education will provide an important opportunity for educators, policymakers, thinkers, and others interested in the future of our schools to grapple with one of the most pressing issues of our day," said Eva Paus, director of the Center for Leadership and Public Interest Advocacy. "The Center believes that active engagement with national and international challenges is not only a cornerstone to the education we provide Mount Holyoke students, but also an opportunity to bring new ideas and insights to the public arena."

Jonathan Kozol
An active participant in the civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, in 1964, Kozol moved from Harvard Square into a poor, Black neighborhood of Boston and became a fourth grade teacher in the Boston public schools. He then devoted three subsequent decades to issues of education and social justice in America.

His first book, Death at an Early Age, a description of his first year as a teacher, was published in 1967 and received the National Book Award in Science, Philosophy and Religion. It was followed by Illiterate America, which helped generate a national campaign to combat adult illiteracy. Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America, his next work, is a narrative of the day-to-day struggles of some of America's poorest people, and Savage Inequities: Children in America's Schools,written in 1991, is a vivid and comprehensive attempt to show the disparities in America's public school system.

From the start, Kozol has combined teaching with activism. He taught at South Boston High during the city's desegregation crisis. Working with black and Hispanic parents, he helped establish a storefront learning center that became a model for many others. Kozol described his experience during those years in three books: Free Schools,The Night is Dark and I am Far From Home, and On Being a Teacher.

Mr. Kozol's most recent work, Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, was published in 1995, and details two years of conversations with children, parents, and clergy of an impoverished urban neighborhood.

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Jonathan Kozol graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude (1958) and was a Rhodes Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford. Among his numerous awards are the Harry Chapin Media Award for excellence in addressing issues of hunger, poverty, and self-reliance; the Wilbur Award given by the Religious Public Relations Council for excellence in communication; and the Christopher Award for work that affirms the highest values of the human spirit. Mr. Kozol lives in Byfield, Massachusetts.

Choices and Challenges for Public Education: Agenda for the 21st Century: Four Events to Complete the Series
Following the keynote by Kozol, four events scheduled through April 7 at the College will delve further into the issues confronting public education. On February 25 at 7:30 pm at Gamble Auditorium on campus, bilingual education will be discussed through a symposium on "The Power of Language: Is Bilingual Education Expanding Opportunity or Limiting Assimilation?" Next, school choice will be addressed on March 25 at 7:30 pm at Hooker Auditorium in a symposium on "The Economics of School Choice: Who Wins? Who Loses?" Then, a film on April 6, Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary, will examine inner-city schools in Los Angeles. Following the screening there will be discussion with Herbert Kohl, senior fellow at the Open Society Institute and author of 36 Children and The Discipline of Hope.On April 7 at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Kohl will finish the series by reading from his latest work, The Discipline of Hope.