Jonathan Kozol Biography

(Educator & Non-Fiction Writer)

Birthday: September 5, 1936 (Virgo)

Born In: Boston

Jonathan Kozol is best-known for his non-fiction accounts on public education in the United States. He is the author of the famous books, ‘Death at an Early Age’, ‘The Shame of the Nation’, ‘Savage Inequalities’ and ‘Fire in the Ashes’, among others. He has been working meticulously with children in various schools for around five decades. His books are usually centered on first-hand accounts of his experiences. His books are eye-openers and give insights to the readers about social problems such as segregated and inadequate schools, illiteracy and vagrancy. His works are both, powerful and climaxing, which have resulted in him winning a number of prestigious honors and accolades. He gave up his financially secure life and career, moved into a ‘Black’ neighborhood in America and began teaching and working closely with various academic communities. Since then, he has dedicated nearly whole of his life to providing equal opportunities in public schools for children of all races, colors and financial levels. He is currently one of the highly-respected education writers in the United States of America. Apart from his noble work in trying to get a more cohesive public education system, he is also an avid supporter of the ‘school voucher’ movement.
Quick Facts

Age: 87 Years, 87 Year Old Males


father: Harry Kozol

mother: Ruth (Massell) Kozol

Quotes By Jonathan Kozol Humanitarian

City: Boston

U.S. State: Massachusetts

Founder/Co-Founder: Cambridge Institute for Public Education and Education Action!

More Facts

education: Noble and Greenough School, Harvard University

awards: 1968 - National Book Award for Death at an Early Age
2005 - Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship

Childhood & Early Life
Jonathan Kozol was born in Boston, Massachusetts, into a traditional middle-class, Jewish family. His mother was a social worker and his father was a psychiatrist and neurologist.
He graduated from Noble and Greenough School in 1954 and went on to study English literature at Harvard University. He graduated from the university four years later.
He obtained a Rhodes scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, but chose not to complete it and instead, traveled to Paris, where he studied the art of fiction and non-fiction writing from William Styron and Richard Wright.
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After he returned from Paris, he began to tutor children in Roxbury and became a teacher at the Boston Public Schools.
In 1967, he authored and published his first work, ‘Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in Boston Public Schools’. It went on to garner a lot of popularity for him. He was even honored with an award for this work.
After being fired from school for teaching a ‘Langston Hughes’ poem, he became deeply involved in the civil rights movement and began concentrating on writing more novels.
From 1972 to 1975, he published two more non-fiction novels, ‘Free Schools’ and ‘The Night is Dark and I am Far From Home’. These novels represented the inner workings of the American society back then and were also written from first-hand experiences.
In 1980, he authored ‘Prisoners of Silence: Breaking the Bonds of Adult Illiteracy in the United States’. Two years later, he penned ‘Alternative Schools: A Guide for Educators and Parents’.
He published one of his more prominent works in 1986 titled, ‘Illiterate America’, which explores the history of the education system in America. He then went on to author ‘Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America’ after two years.
He wrote ‘Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools’ in 1991. This book also made it to the list of popular non-fiction books for the year and won an award the next year.
In 1995, he wrote, ‘Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation’. Once again, the work earned him important recognition the following year.
The year 2000 brought with it continuing success for Kozol, when he published ‘Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope’. Five years later, he authored, ‘The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America’.
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An opinionated critic of discrimination in schools in the United States, he is also currently working towards the ‘school voucher’ movement. In 2007, he published ‘Letters to a Young Teacher’.
His most recent works is ‘Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America’, which was published in 2012.
Major Works
His first publication, ‘Death at an Early Age’ was released in 1967. The book became extremely popular and won the US National Book Award. It also went on to sell more than two million copies.
‘The Shame of the Nation’, published in 2005, is regarded as one of his major works for the amount of research and preparation that went into creating the book. He visited nearly 60 schools around the United States while writing the book and also researched on the school’s expenditure for each child.
Awards & Achievements
He won the National Book Award for ‘Death at an Early Age’, in 1968.
In 1989, he won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for ‘Rachel and Her Children’.
He was presented ‘The New England Book Award’ for ‘Savage Inequalities’ in 1992.
In 2005, he was honored with the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship.
He has held two Guggenheim Fellowships and has also been ordained a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation twice.
Personal Life & Legacy
Apart from his writings, he has also founded the non-profit organizations, ‘Cambridge Institute for Public Education’ and ‘Education Action!’
He presently lives with his dog, ‘Sweetie Pie’ in a homestead in Byfield, Massachusetts.

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