Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Another note on Kozol and his work
Shortly after reading the Harper's article, I saw that Salon.com has an interview with Jonathan Kozol discussing his new book. In the interview, Kozol talks about his book and expand on some of the ideas I saw on the Harper's piece. In the interview, Kozol says that "people are more decent than the people they elect." On initial impulse, I would agree with that. Yet after seeing how events have turned over time, and given my years in education (public and higher), I have to wonder if his faith is justified. Kozol calls for a revolution, for radical change. This is an issue of human decency, no more and no less. So, my question, if those people are really so decent, why do they keep electing such indecent people? How long before their indifference makes them as indecent as, or worse than, the politicians they elect? Some may say that had good faith when they voted for so and so the first time. But, as the old saying goes, "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Do people really lack a sense of shame? Kozol says in the interview, "American segregation has been created by men and will only be undone by the acts of men and women." He says he hopes to see the upheaval. I can only wish I had his faith. As a final thought, Kozol remarks that many white schools tend to assign his works. He has met many students graduates from the finest schools who have read his works who go on to feel like their educational victory was tainted by the existence of the apartheid educational establishment. I was fortunate to meet Kozol when I was in graduate school before library school. I am not the product of $20,000 preschools or Ivy League schools, but my middle class parents provided me a good education as much as they could. As I shook his hand after the talk he gave that day years ago, a part of me could not help but feel shame, like there was so much more I wish I could do. And another part of me was inspired when he told me to continue the fight, "la lucha" as he wrote in the book he signed for me. Maybe that is what I can do: continue the fight, for it will be a fight if we are to educate all of our children. Not a few, not just the ones we select, but all of them.