Bruce Parker


Filed By Bruce Parker | January 14, 2008 6:14 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: hunger strike, Jonathan Kozol, no child left behind act

While being adamantly not religious, because of my Southern upbringing during time of stress apparently I still pray. Sybil, my Ph.D. pursuing partner and colleague, never hesitates to remind me of the fact that when I am stressed, relieved, or in general experiencing any sort of overwhelming emotion that I call out to Jesus. Now we are not talking about the getting down on my knees type of praying. It is more like, looking up toward heaven and proclaiming, "Sweet Jesus get me through this!"

Deciding to not give up the feeling of calling out to something bigger than me in times of emotional stress as well as the desire to not call out to a figure that I am overall just unsure about led me to decide that my obsession with Jonathan Kozol and his partial fast could very well be giving me my higher power. I have been gradually replacing my calls to Jesus with calls to Kozol. The people who are around me have caught on and many of them are making the references as well. I am not sure if they are true believers but at least they are trying.

So I pray to Jonathan Kozol these days and here is why....

The recent anniversary of the passing of the catastrophic No Child Left Behind Act only highlights how important it is that educators take action to protect school children and the future of our Country. Students and teachers are being strangled by standardization. While there has been some pretty amazing resistance to the bill from individuals, teachers, educational scholars, schools, school systems, and colleges of education the recent decision of Jonathan Kozol to embark on a partial fast until something is done about the Act offers an amazing example of putting political beliefs to the test by refusing to compromise or back down.

About his resistance to no child left behind he says,

The justification for this law was the presumptuous and ignorant determination by the White House that our urban schools are, for the most part, staffed by mediocre drones who will suddenly become terrific teachers if we place a sword of terror just above their heads and threaten them with penalties if they do not pump their students' scores by using proto-military methods of instruction -- scripted texts and hand-held timers -- that will rescue them from doing any thinking of their own. There are some mediocre teachers in our schools (there are mediocre lawyers, mediocre senators, and mediocre presidents as well), but hopelessly dull and unimaginative teachers do not suddenly turn into classroom wizards under a regimen that transforms their classrooms into test-prep factories.

I am amazed at the lengths that he is willing to go to in order to advance what he believes is right... So I have a few questions.

  • If you had to pick a not religious figure to pray to who would it be?
  • Do you think that any of our presidential candidates would be willing to undergo that much discomfort in order to accomplish their goals for the country?

If you ask yourself, "what would Jonathan Kozol do?" I think you will find within yourself that he would respond to my post.

Just saying.

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Kozol posts on the Huff Po, and I had read about his fast there.

It's a pretty cool tactic to draw attention to the issue. Not many people go on hunger strikes anymore.

And NCLB is based on such an arrogant and cowardly premise, that teachers just aren't trying hard enough. It's a way to pin the blame for a problem on someone else and not actually try to solve the systemic problems that cause low achievement, like poverty, (often) irrelevant or out-of-date teaching methods and materials, and an increasingly materialistic culture.

This isn't grumpy, and I don't need a hug. :)

Alex? big hug.

sorry, couldn't resist.

I respect Kozol's work, deeply. I have sat on a board of a foundation working on public education issues for almost ten years ( - don't get me started about what has to happen in public education. No child left behind is more than arrogant, it is designed to leave children behind.

I tend to mention "sweet jesus" quite often, even as an atheist. He was an activist, after all.

And no, I do not believe any of the candidates would undergo any personal discomfort. fasting is an interesting tactic but I'm not sure it's very effective. Can't happen in a sound bite or a thirty second commercial.

I'd never heard of the guy before. Thanks for putting him on my radar.

*stops to give Alex a hug on my way out of the thread*