Jonathan Kozol Toby Goldstein - Essay

Toby Goldstein

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Free Schools is] an indispensable handbook for any group planning to establish a free school. [Kozol] aims it at the underprivileged, non-white people, the ones who cannot easily escape to a Vermont farm but must get educated in Watts or Harlem….

[Kozol's] plans are terribly practical, his book is awe-inspiring. It makes a great deal of sense that he was fired from the public school system, for nothing proves as devasting as breaking the machine by using its own parts.

Jonathan Kozol writes of schools, but in essence, teaches about life. (p. 92)

Toby Goldstein, "Up in the Morning and Off to School," in Crawdaddy (copyright © 1972 by Crawdaddy Publishing Co., Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), December, 1972, pp. 91-2.∗

Jonathan Kozol was one of those few eloquent, anguished teachers of the late '60's who forced our awareness of the early death our educational system deals to ghetto youngsters. How sad then, with none of the conditions he protested changed, that his unabated pain and outrage [in The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home], his need to remind us again and again that our schools are structured to serve the state and perpetuate the status quo, will be seen as shrill, naive and more than a little tiresome. Kozol literally cannot sit in a well-appointed dining room, public or private, without agonizing over the misery and poverty that subsidize his hosts, and he remains incredulous that the rest of us can relax nightly in our segregated havens after a day spent teaching and "caring" about ghetto children or researching social injustice. Except for his obsessive documentation of grief, pain and hunger in the slums, most of this is about the systematic desensitizing of the children of the privileged so that they will not question or upset the existing balance…. He's right of course about our lobotomized moral sense and probably has no choice but to keep on screaming, even if his upper-case and italicized accusations of EVIL fall on anesthetized ears. (pp. 894-95)

"Non-Fiction: 'The Night Is Dark and I Am Far From Home'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1975 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLIII, No. 15, August 1, 1975, pp. 894-95.