The Education Action Fund, a nonprofit charitable foundation, provides direct support to many of the children and adults portrayed in Jonathan’s books, and to others living in profoundly segregated inner-city neighborhoods, served by underfunded and overcrowded schools, who share in the same impoverishment.
As these individuals struggle to afford food and housing, a small amount of money at a time of need can prevent a minor setback from escalating into the kind of financial emergency that disrupts a child’s education and draws a family deeper into destitution. In this way, we try to guarantee that an unexpected medical bill, or a need for new clothes to fit a growing child, does not lead to a missed rent payment or an unpaid utility bill or, at worst, eviction from a family’s home.
Readers of Jonathan’s books have contributed to the fund for more than thirty years. Their donations have always been and continue to be gratefully received.
Contributions may also be sent to:
The Education Action Fund
16 Lowell Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
In a truly democratic social order, philanthropic interventions would not so frequently be needed. Jonathan continues to believe that our ultimate challenge is the struggle to provide every child with the equal education that America has never yet delivered. More than half a century after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, our schools remain blatantly divided along racial lines and leave minority children from poor families ill-equipped to dig themselves out of the poverty into which they were born.
Damaging legislation that purports to alleviate the race gap in our schools, without addressing the savage inequalities within those schools, has continued to crop up in new forms through the years, the most recent of these being No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, both of which have proven ineffectual. They have, moreover, had the punitive effect of encouraging our inner-city schools to adhere to a regimen of “teaching to the test” or run the risk of losing funds, or being shut down altogether, if they cannot pump up their students’ scores on standardized exams at a pace mandated by the government. Under this rigidified system of flawed accountability, teachers in these underfunded, overcrowded schools are penalized or threatened if they and their students are unable to produce miraculous standardized test results.
In the most recent twist of federal policy, the Department of Education has announced that schools, if they agree to a number of new requirements, will no longer be forced to meet the original demand of NCLB that every child be proficient by the year 2014—which, to be blunt, is simply an exemption from a goal that was implausible to begin with and which the White House is simply recognizing to be beyond any possible reality. The White House will also exempt states from the testing mandates of No Child Left Behind if the states will put in place the same or even harsher mandates of their own. In reality, the pressure on teachers to “teach only to the test” is greater now than it was before because states will be required to judge, penalize, or dismiss teachers on the basis of arbitrary measurements of student progress within a narrow period of years. All in all, the agenda is every bit as punitive and regressive as it was before.
Jonathan works closely with several networks of teachers and activists to defend schools against such injurious policies. Among these groups are Save Our Schools (http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org) and Rethinking Schools (http://www.rethinkingschools.org), which have launched impassioned movements to engage teachers and families in the fight for basic justice and enlightened practices in our public schools. Education Action encourages Jonathan’s readers to participate in these movements and to become involved with groups of local activists. Readers may also connect with other like-minded individuals through Jonathan’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/jonathankozol).