Most widely read education writer speaks at DeKalb High School

By Maria Ahmad

DeKalb High School’s auditorium was filled to capacity last night as crowds of students, faulty, teachers and community members listened to Jonathan Kozol.

Jonathan Kozol is most famously known for his books on public education and the discrepancies in low income schools. His stop in DeKalb is part of his book tour planned as his latest book, Fire in the Ashes, was released this fall. Fire in the Ashes is a follow-up on in his book Savage Inequalities, which had had written 25 years earlier.

Kozol was introduced by Dan Kenney, a fourth grade teacher in the DeKalb school district and the main organizer of the event. Kozol began speaking by recognizing the importance of teachers.

“Teaching is a beautiful profession and deserves more respect,” Kozol said. “I am here to stand beside that.”

He observed DeKalb High School(DHS)’s new building and mentioned how important aesthetics are for students. He said most students in poor communities are in buildings that are not safe or big enough for the number of students.

“DeKalb is a community that demonstrates its support of education,” said Cindy Dugan, a DeKalb High school counselor. “DHS’s new beautiful building is a sign of that.”

Kozol continued by retelling the stories of certain students he had written about and where they are now. Some did not have a happy ending, whereas others were more successful. He focused on one student in particular: Pinneapple. Pineapple grew up in a low income community school which had a class size of over 40 students. Despite those challenges, she is now in her senior year of college, which was made possible through various scholarships and opportunities.

“Pineapple was able to make it because of charitable people and charity is a loving act but not a substitute for justice,” Kozol said.

Kozol drew comparisons between public schools in suburbs and those in low income communities and how those differences present 25 years ago still exist today.

“His speech reaffirms why we need more people to be great teachers,” said Will Nolan, a graduate student in adult and higher education. “He is a powerful speaker; Kozol for president!”