Jonathan KozolJonathan Kozol has devoted nearly half-a-century to the challenge of providing equal opportunity within our public schools to every child in America. He is, at the present time, our nation’s most widely read and highly honored education writer. And he is coming to Atlantic City this November.

In the mid-1960s, Kozol moved to a poor black neighborhood of Boston and became a fourth- grade teacher. In Death at an Early Age, he described his first year as a teacher. Now regarded as a classic by educators, it has sold more than two million copies in the United States and Europe.

Kozol’s 1995 bestseller, Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, described his visits to the South Bronx of New York, the poorest congressional district of America. Ten years later, in The Shame of the Nation, Kozol returned to the battle with his strongest, most disturbing work to date: a powerful exposé of conditions he had found in visiting and revisiting nearly 60 public schools in 30 different districts in 11 states. Virtually everywhere, he found that inner-city children were more isolated racially than at any time since federal courts began dismantling the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

“They live an apartheid existence and attend apartheid schools. Few of them know white children any longer.” The proportion of black children who are now attending integrated public schools, he noted, is at a lower level than in any year since 1968.

2012 NJEA ConventionIn his most recent work, Letters to a Young Teacher, Kozol draws upon four decades of experience to guide the newest generation of our nation's teachers into the ethically complicated challenges but, also, “the sheer joy and passionate rewards” of what he calls “a beautiful profession.”

In a series of affectionate letters to Francesca, a first-grade teacher at an inner-city school in Boston, Kozol describes the tender chemistry of love and trust that rapidly evolve between a gifted teacher and her students, while he also offers practical solutions to the day-to-day dilemmas that even the most talented young teachers must inevitably face.

When he is not with teachers in their classrooms, or at universities and colleges speaking to our future teachers, Kozol is likely to be found in Washington, where he devotes considerable time to what he calls “my lifelong efforts at remediation” of the members of the U.S. House and Senate. He has spent much of the past two years attempting to convince his friends within the Senate leadership, as well as advisers to President Barack Obama, to radically reduce the punitive aspects of No Child Left Behind while increasing the incentives and rewards that can encourage urban districts.

You can hear Kozol on Thursday, Nov. 8, at the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City.

More convention news

The Atlantic City Convention Center is the place to be Nov. 8 and 9. You’ll notice some exciting changes on the convention floor.

 The NJEA Service Center will have a new look and feel as members stroll down “NJEA Boulevard” to speak with Association staff and leaders about everything from “Classroom Close-up” to the Cat in the Hat!

Also new in 2012 will be the ESP Pavilion, where educational support members can get resources and information.

The always-popular High Tech Hall will undergo another expansion in 2012. This year Dell will be on hand to showcase its products designed for use in special education classrooms.

Of course, members can always count on more than 200 great workshops too. Look for more information on this year’s convention in your spring publications.  Learn more about the NJEA Convention

Child care available

For the second year, child care is available on both days of the NJEA Convention from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. NJEA has again contracted with ACCENT on Children’s Arrangements, Inc. All children ages 3 years through 12 years are welcome to participate and will have special age-oriented activities planned for them. Daily activities include arts and crafts projects, active games, reading books, and much more. The cost is $20 per child, per day. For more information, see your April NJEA Reporter or go to njeaconvention.org.