A dream does not die on its own. A dream is vanquished by the choices ordinary people make about real things in their own lives...
Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.
It's sad that some people who have one exciting moment spend the rest of their lives rehashing it.
I believe we need a national amendment which will guarantee every child in America the promise of not just an equal education but a high-quality equal education.
But for the children of the poorest people we're stripping the curriculum, removing the arts and music, and drilling the children into useful labor. We're not valuing a child for the time in which she actually is a child.
When I was teaching in the 1960s in Boston, there was a great deal of hope in the air. Martin Luther King Jr. was alive, Malcolm X was alive; great, great leaders were emerging from the southern freedom movement.
Young children give us glimpses of some things that are eternal.
Wonderful teachers should never let themselves be drill sergeants for the state.
I encourage teachers to speak in their own voices. Don't use the gibberish of the standards writers.
The fact that a crime might have been committed with impunity in the past may make it seem more familiar and less gruesome, but surely does not give it any greater legitimacy.
No human being who wants to read and own a book should ever have to go on a bended knee to get it.
It is our nation which is blind, and needs our prayers.
President Obama's first term in office has been better for intentions than for actual changes in planning and policy. I do believe, and he has several things to this effect, that he would like to provide universal preschool or at least far more preschool for our children.
A dream does not die on it's own. A dream is vanquished by the choices ordinary people make about real things in their own lives.The motive may be different, and I'm sure it often is; the consequence is not.
Now, I don't expect what I write to change things. I think I write now simply as a witness. This is how it is. This is what we have done. This is what we have permitted.
The primary victims of Katrina, those who were given the least help by the government, those rescued last or not at all, were overwhelmingly people of color largely hidden from the mainstream of society.
Still, I think it grieves the heart of God when human beings created in His image treat other human beings like filthy rags.
Equity, after all, does not mean simply equal funding. Equal funding for unequal needs is not equality.
Childhood does not exist to serve the national economy. In a healthy nation, it should be the other way around.
When they pray, what do they say to God?
Schooling should not be left to the whim or wealth of village elders. I believe that we should fund all schools in the U.S. with our national resources. All these kids are being educated to be Americans, not citizens of Minneapolis or San Francisco.
The last thing the theatre owners wanted was for people who spent $200 to see 'Les Miserables' to come out again and see the real miserable children of America, right there on the sidewalk.
Children sometimes understand things that most grown-ups do not see.
The cause of homelessness is lack of housing.
The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory.
During the decades after Brown v. Board of Education there was terrific progress. Tens of thousands of public schools were integrated racially. During that time the gap between black and white achievement narrowed.
[Of] particular importance is the relationship between education and the political process.
I don't know if anything I write will endure, but I do try to write it as a narrative that will not only challenge but also entice the reader into the lives of children.
I have an enormous sense of having failed in life.
I beg people not to accept the seasonal ritual of well-timed charity on Christmas Eve. It's blasphemy.
My goal is to connect the young teachers to the old, to reignite their sense of struggle.
When I was young, I was religious.
Congress has an opportunity to take advantage of the opening created by Justice Kennedy later this year when it reauthorizes the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Consider what it is like to go into a new classroom and to see before you suddenly, and in a way you cannot avoid recognizing, the dreadful consequences of a year's wastage of so many lives.
It is a commonplace by now to say that the urban school systems of America contain a higher percentage of Negro children each year.
As a matter of record, New York City spends a higher portion of its budget on instruction and associated costs within the schools themselves than any of the other 100 largest districts in the nation.
The first ten, twelve or fifteen years of life are excavated of inherent moral worth in order to accommodate a regimen of basic training for the adult years that many of the poorest children may not even live to know.
People rarely speak of children; you hear of 'cohort groups' and 'standard variations,' but you don't hear much of boys who miss their cats or 6-year-olds who have to struggle with potato balls.
I feel, in the end, as if everything I've done has been a failure.
I'd love to go back and teach primary school. I used to teach fourth grade and fifth grade. I'd love to spend several years teaching kindergarten or maybe third grade.
I am opposed to the use of public funds for private education.
In many of the high schools in the South Bronx, more children will end up in prison than will go to college.
Governor Romney has said nothing about preschool. I think that giving the poorest kids in America wonderful preschool, and three years of it, starting when they are two-and-a-half, is absolutely crucial.
No Child Left Behind's fourth-grade gains aren't learning gains, they're testing gains. That's why they don't last. The law is a distraction from things that really count.
A culture in which guilt is automatically assumed to be neurotic and unhealthy has devised a remarkably clever way of protecting its self-interest.
I wrote the first book, and I thought people would say: 'Separate and unequal schools in the City of Boston? I didn't know that. Let's go out and fix it.'
The inequalities are greater now than in '92. Some states have equalized per-pupil spending but they set the 'equal level' very low, so that wealthy districts simply raise extra money privately.
I think a lot of people don't have any idea of how deeply segregated our schools have become all over again. Most textbooks are not honest in what they teach our high school students.
Children are not simply commodities to be herded into line and trained for the jobs that white people who live in segregated neighborhoods have available.
The greatest difference between now and 1964, when I began teaching, is that public policy has pretty much eradicated the dream of Martin Luther King.
If we allow public funds to be used to support our relatively benign, morally grounded schools, we will have to allow those public funds to be used for any type of private school.
I hope to be remembered for writing books about social justice that also have enough aesthetic value to endure as works of literature.
President Obama still places far too much emphasis on relentless testing with standardized exams.
Public school was never in business to produce Thoreau. It is in business to produce a man like Richard Nixon and, even more, a population like the one which could elect him.
We are now operating a school system in America that's more segregated than at any time since the death of Martin Luther King.
We know that segregation is evil. We know that the sickest children should not go to the worst hospitals.
Apartheid education, rarely mentioned in the press or openly confronted even among once-progressive educators, is alive and well and rapidly increasing now in the United States.
Instead of seeing these children for the blessings that they are, we are measuring them only by the standard of whether they will be future deficits or assets for our nation's competitive needs.
Even if you never do anything about this, you've benefited from an unjust system. You're already the winner in a game that was rigged to your advantage from the start.
Businessmen are not in business to lose customers, and schools do not exist to free their clients from the agencies of mass persuasion. School and media possess a productive monopoly upon the imagination of a child.
No Child Left Behind widens the gap between the races more than any piece of educational legislation I've seen in 40 years. It denies inner-city kids the critical-thinking skills to interrogate reality.
You need massive recruitment to tell the poorest of the poor what is possible.
I have always felt my role was to do anything I could to enable the powerless to speak. I want America to hear these voices because they are beautiful voices.
I think a moment of critical energy has suddenly emerged. But moments like this come and go unless we seize them at their height.
Many of those who argue for vouchers say that they simply want to use competition to improve public education. I don't think it works that way, and I've been watching this for a longtime.
So long as these kinds of inequalities persist, all of us who are given expensive educations have to live with the knowledge that our victories are contaminated because the game has been rigged to our advantage.
In schools with a history of chaos, the teacher who can keep the classroom calm becomes virtually indispensable.
We know that segregation is evil. We know that the sickest children should not go to the worst hospitals. No, I refuse to pretend the problem is insufficient knowledge. We lack the theological will to do it.
The 'niche' effect of charter schools guarantees a swift and vicious deepening of class and racial separation.
'Death at an Early Age' was about racial segregation in Boston. 'Illiterate America' was about grownups who can't read. 'Rachel and Her Children' was about people who were homeless in the middle of Manhattan.
Discrimination is alive and soaring.
Nationally, overwhelmingly non-white schools receive $1,000 less per pupil than overwhelmingly white schools.
The answers I remember longest are the ones that answer questions that I didn't think of asking.
Separate and unequal didn't work 100 years ago. It will not work today.
At present, black children are more segregated in their public schools than at any time since 1968. In the inner-city schools I visit, minority children typically represent 95 percent to 99 percent of class enrollment.
Apartheid does not happen spontaneously, like bad weather conditions.
No matter what happens in a child's home, no matter what other social and economic factors may impede a child, there's no question in my mind that a first-rate school can transform almost everything.
All of my education at Harvard, then Oxford, then Paris was in literature - even my thesis was on Shakespeare.
Our nation's oldest sin and deepest crime is the isolation of minority children - black children, in particular - in schools that are not only segregated but shamefully unequal.
An awful lot of people come to college with this strange idea that there's no longer segregation in America's schools, that our schools are basically equal; neither of these things is true.
Racial segregation has come back to public education with a vengeance.
People who know but do not act do evil too. I don’t know if I would call them evil but they’re certainly not thinking about heaven.
When I had asked Mrs. Flowers how she held up in the face of all the death and violence within her neighborhood, she had given me a simple answer: “This family talks to God.
I urge you to be teachers so that you can join with children as the co-collaborators in a plot to build a little place of ecstasy and poetry and gentle joy
The trouble is not that schools don't work; they do. They're excellent machines for achieving historically accepted purposes. In suburban schools are children of the rich, who grow up to privilege and anesthetic oblivion to pain - and who then use the servants produced by ghetto schools.
I emphasize teachers because they are largely left out of the debate. None of the bombastic reports that come from Washington and think tanks telling us what needs to be 'fixed' - I hate such a mechanistic word, as if our schools were automobile engines - ever asks the opinions of teachers.
I once made a check of all books in my fourth-grade classroom. Of the slightly more than six hundred books, almost one quarter had been published prior to the bombing of Hiroshima; 60 percent were either ten years old or older.
Well, teachers have been profoundly demoralized in recent years and are often treated with contempt by politicians. There's a great deal of reckless rhetoric in Washington about the mediocrity of the teaching profession - and I don't find that to be true at all.
So long as the most vulnerable people in our population are consigned to places that the rest of us will always shun and flee and view with fear, I am afraid that educational denial, medical and economic devastation, and aesthetic degradation will be inevitable.
The contrasts between what is spent today to educate a child in the poorest New York City neighborhoods, where teacher salaries are often even lower than the city averages, and spending levels in the wealthiest suburban areas are daunting challenges to any hope New Yorkers might retain that even semblances of fairness still prevail.
I tell young teachers who are determined to dissent from some of the Draconian aspects of the current orthodoxy that the best form of protection is to be incredibly good at what you do and keep good discipline in class.
'Amazing Grace' is not a book of interviews or onetime snapshots. It's a memoir of a journey that took me into a place I had never been and took over two years of my life. I don't think the people in this book would have said the things to me that they did if they perceived me as a reporter.
By far the most important factor in the success or failure of any school, far more important than tests or standards or business-model methods of accountability, is simply attracting the best-educated, most exciting young people into urban schools and keeping them there.
If you grow up in the South Bronx today or in south-central Los Angeles or Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, you quickly come to understand that you have been set apart and that there's no will in this society to bring you back into the mainstream.
Our political establishment refuses to use the word 'segregated.' They call the schools diverse, which means half black, half Hispanic, and maybe two white kids and three Asians. 'Diverse' has become a synonym for 'segregated.'
What I tell these young people is, the world is not as dangerous as the older generation would like you to believe. Anyone I know who has ever taken a risk and lost a job has ended up getting a better one two years later.
Competitive skills are desperately needed by poor children in America, and realistic recognition of the economic roles that they may someday have an opportunity to fill is obviously important, too. But there is more to life, and there ought to be much more to childhood, than readiness for economic functions.
Childhood ought to have at least a few entitlements that aren't entangled with utilitarian considerations. One of them should be the right to a degree of unencumbered satisfaction in the sheer delight and goodness of existence in itself.
There has been so much recent talk of progress in the areas of curriculum innovation and textbook revision that few people outside the field of teaching understand how bad most of our elementary school materials still are.
'Savage Inequalities' was about school finance, and 'Amazing Grace' primarily dealt with medical and social injustices in New York. But with 'Ordinary Resurrections,' I had no predetermined agenda. When I met with the children, I was not in pursuit of any line of thinking. In our conversations, I let them lead me where they wanted to go.
At that time, I had recently finished a book called Amazing Grace, which many people tell me is a very painful book to read. Well, if it was painful to read, it was also painful to write. I had pains in my chest for two years while I was writing that book.
In the book, I write about children in first grade who were taught to read by reading want ads. They learned to write by writing job applications. Imagine what would happen if anyone tried to do that to children in a predominantly white suburban school.