Kozol Fasts

When I was in graduate school, my friend Jarrett lent me his old battered up copy of Jonathan Kozol's The Night is Dark and I am Far From Home. I know that I'm not the only one, but that book certainly played a big part in shaping my pedagogy. In one of his essays he discusses the learned powerlessness of having students write letters to government officials. A common classroom activity which sometimes results in a formulaic response and almost never results in any kind of change. A lesson in civic participation thus ends in students understanding that participatory democracy means that the government sometimes listens, but with a deaf ear.

Now, Kozol is taking a stand against No Child Left Behind by staging a "partial fast". What is depressing to me, is that he'll end his fast when another man I admire, the chairman of the Senate education panel, Ted Kennedy, agrees to meet with him.

Will Kennedy budge if enough people call and write in? Or will we just be participating in the learned powerlessness?


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