Jonathan Kozol quotes

  • 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

    #Struggle #Believe #Sadness

  • 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

    #Children #School #Destiny

  • The first goal and primary function of the U.S. public school is not to educate good people, but good citizens. It is the function which we call - in enemy nations - 'state indoctrination.'
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #School #Goal #People

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

    #Inspirational #Motivational #Educational

  • The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Believe #Struggle #Victory

  • There is something deeply hypocritical in a society that holds an inner-city child only eight years old "accountable" for her performance on a high-stakes standardized exam but does not hold the high officials of our government accountable for robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years before.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Children #Kids #Years

  • 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

    #Children #Blessing #Needs

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

    #Teacher #Wonderful #Drill Sergeant

  • More money is put into prisons than into schools. That, in itself, is the description of a nation bent on suicide. I mean, what is more precious to us than our own children? We are going to build a lot more prisons if we do not deal with the schools and their inequalities.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Education #Suicide #Children

  • Childhood is not merely basic training for utilitarian adulthood. It should have some claims upon our mercy, not for its future value to the economic interests of competitive societies but for its present value as a perishable piece of life itself.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Childhood #Training #Pieces

  • 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

    #Teacher #School #Kids

  • 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

    #Teacher #Children #Book

  • The cause of homelessness is lack of housing.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Causes #Homelessness #Housing

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

    #Children #Sometimes

  • We know that segregation is evil. We know that the sickest children should not go to the worst hospitals.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Children #Evil #Segregation

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

    #Weather #Doe #Apartheid

  • If you grow up in the South Bronx today or in south-central Los Angeles or Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, you quickly come to understand that you have been set apart and that there's no will in this society to bring you back into the mainstream.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Growing Up #Philadelphia #Today

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

    #Teacher #Struggle #Goal

  • President Obama still places far too much emphasis on relentless testing with standardized exams.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #President #Too Much #Exam

  • 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

    #Jobs #Children #White

  • 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

    #Clever #Self #Guilt

  • 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

    #Teacher #Teaching #Years

  • I emphasize teachers because they are largely left out of the debate. None of the bombastic reports that come from Washington and think tanks telling us what needs to be 'fixed' - I hate such a mechanistic word, as if our schools were automobile engines - ever asks the opinions of teachers.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Teacher #Hate #School

  • 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

    #Children #Ambition #Doors

  • 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

    #Educational #Writing #Winning

  • 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

    #Children #Growing Up #School

  • 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

    #Fate #Knowing #People

  • 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

    #Jobs #Taken #Believe

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

    #Adversity #Justice #Charity

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

    #Children #Giving #Glimpse

  • 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

    #Courage #Lunch #League

  • False hope is worse than despair.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Change #Despair #False Hope

  • But when I went to Harvard, it kind of got washed out of me, partly because people made fun of you in college. If you said you believed in God, they would look at you clinically, you know, suggest that you needed a referral.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Fun #College #People

  • If you could lead through testing, the U.S. would lead the world in all education categories. When are people going to understand you don't fatten your lambs by weighing them?
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Education #People #World

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

    #Done #Ends #Feels

  • 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

    #Children #Believe #Grace

  • I went to Washington to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Expectations #Challenges #Lows

  • 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

    #Friday #Teacher #Monday

  • In public schooling, social policy has been turned back almost one hundred years.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Teaching #Years #Social

  • 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

    #Money #Children #Parent

  • 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

    #Education #School #White

  • 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

    #Children #Illinois #Cities

  • Children, of course, don't understand at first that they are being cheated. They come to school with a degree of faith and optimism, and they often seem to thrive during the first few years. It is sometimes not until the third grade that their teachers start to see the warning signs of failure. By the fourth grade many children see it too.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Teacher #Children #School

  • 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

    #Children #School #Ideas

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

    #School #White #Pupils

  • 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

    #Games #Long #Victory

  • 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

    #Children #Powerful #Political

  • 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

    #Children #Believe #School

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

    #Christmas #People #Charity

  • 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

    #Boys #Important #Littles

  • 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

    #Children #School #Years

  • I think a moment of critical energy has suddenly emerged. But moments like this come and go unless we seize them at their height.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Thinking #Energy #Height

  • I am opposed to the use of public funds for private education.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Use #Fund

  • 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

    #Children #Struggle #Cat

  • 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

    #School #People #Accountability

  • Apartheid education, rarely mentioned in the press or openly confronted even among once-progressive educators, is alive and well and rapidly increasing now in the United States.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #United States #Alive #Progressive

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

    #Needs #Poor #Recruitment

  • The answers I remember longest are the ones that answer questions that I didn't think of asking.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Thinking #Asking #Answers

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

    #Years #Today

  • The greatest difference between now and 1964, when I began teaching, is that public policy has pretty much eradicated the dream of Martin Luther King.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Dream #Kings #Teaching

  • At that time, I had recently finished a book called Amazing Grace, which many people tell me is a very painful book to read. Well, if it was painful to read, it was also painful to write. I had pains in my chest for two years while I was writing that book.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Pain #Book #Writing

  • But for the children of the poorest people we're stripping the curriculum, removing the arts and music, and drilling the children into useful labor. We're not valuing a child for the time in which she actually is a child.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Art #Children #People

  • Even if you never do anything about this, you've benefited from an unjust system. You're already the winner in a game that was rigged to your advantage from the start.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Games #Unjust #Winner

  • 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

    #School #College #Ideas

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

    #Vengeance #Segregation #Public Education

  • Now, I don't expect what I write to change things. I think I write now simply as a witness. This is how it is. This is what we have done. This is what we have permitted.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Writing #Thinking #Done

  • When I was teaching in the 1960s in Boston, there was a great deal of hope in the air. Martin Luther King Jr. was alive, Malcolm X was alive; great, great leaders were emerging from the southern freedom movement.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Kings #Teaching #Air

  • 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

    #Teacher #Children #Military

  • A dream does not die on its own. A dream is vanquished by the choices ordinary people make about real things in their own lives...
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Dream #Real #People

  • 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

    #Teaching #School #People

  • 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

    #Government #Color #People

  • 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

    #Children #Order #Years

  • 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

    #Teacher #New York #Children

  • 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

    #Jobs #Children #Book

  • 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

    #School #Support #Benign

  • 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

    #Teaching #School #Years

  • 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

    #Book #School #Boston

  • I once made a check of all books in my fourth-grade classroom. Of the slightly more than six hundred books, almost one quarter had been published prior to the bombing of Hiroshima; 60 percent were either ten years old or older.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Book #Years #Six

  • Hypersegregated inner-city schools - in which one finds no more than five or ten white children, at the very most, within a student population of as many as 3,000 - are the norm, not the exception, in most northern urban areas today.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Children #School #Cities

  • 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

    #School #Black And White #Achievement

  • As a matter of record, New York City spends a higher portion of its budget on instruction and associated costs within the schools themselves than any of the other 100 largest districts in the nation.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #New York #School #Cities

  • I encourage teachers to speak in their own voices. Don't use the gibberish of the standards writers.
    -- Jonathan Kozol

    #Teacher #Voice #Use