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Education and social justice advocate Jonathan Kozol speaks at Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola press release - August 17, 2004

Education and social justice advocate Jonathan Kozol speaks at Loyola University New Orleans

(New Orleans)—A nationally recognized advocate of equal educational and social opportunities and an award-winning author, Jonathan Kozol, will address the Loyola University community on Wednesday, September 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Roussel Hall on Loyola’s main campus, 6363 St. Charles Ave. Kozol’s lecture is titled “Still Separate and Unequal: The Struggle for Urban Schools.” The lecture is free and open to the public.

Kozol’s appearance is part of Loyola’s comprehensive First Year Experience initiative designed to integrate students academically and socially into the Loyola learning environment. The experience has enhanced student engagement and achievement and features a First Year Common Reading Program as well as other events that assist students in making connections between themes of the programs and Loyola’s fundamental values: faith, service and social justice. The common reading this year is Kozol’s Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools.

As it titles suggest, Savage outlines the vast disparities across the country between school districts in the more affluent suburban areas and those in urban areas. As part of his research, between 1988 and 1990, Kozol visited schools in Camden, N.J., Washington, D.C., New York’s South Bronx, Chicago’s South Side, San Antonio, Texas, and East St. Louis, Mo., where the racial makeup was 95 to 99-percent nonwhite. . Even in the suburbs, Kozol charges, the slotting of minority children into lower “tracks” sets up a differential, two-tier system that diminishes poor children’s horizons and aspirations He concludes that real integration has seriously declined and education for minorities and the poor has moved backwards by at least several decades. Shocked by the persistent segregation and bias in poorer neighborhoods, Kozol describes the garrison-like campuses located in high-crime areas, which often lack the most basic needs. Rooms with no heat, few supplies or texts, labs with no equipment or running water, sewer backups, fumes, and overwhelming fiscal shortages combine to create an appalling scene

Kozol taught fourth graders in the late 1960s at a school in an African-American section of Boston. He was fired for reading a poem by African-American poet Langston Hughes. He then taught at a suburban Boston school, and the differences between the two school districts shocked him.

Kozol, 67, grew up in Newton, Mass., a suburb of Boston. He graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude in 1958 and was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford. He has since held two Guggenheim Fellowships, has twice been a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, and has also received fellowships from the Field and Ford foundations. Kozol’s many awards include the National Book Award in Science, Philosophy, and Religion for his first book, Death at an Early Age; the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Rachel and Her Children, a book about homeless families; and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation. He also was presented with a doctor of humane letters from Loyola in 1992.

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