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.
Wonderful teachers should never let themselves be drill sergeants for the state.
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.
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.'
A great deal has been written in recent years about the purported lack of motivation in the children of the Negro ghettos. Little in my experience supports this, yet the phrase has been repeated endlessly, and the blame in almost all cases is placed somewhere outside the classroom.
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 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.
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.
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.
My goal is to connect the young teachers to the old, to reignite their sense of struggle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I encourage teachers to speak in their own voices. Don't use the gibberish of the standards writers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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.
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.
But when I went to Harvard, it kind of got washed out of me, partly because people made fun of you in college. If you said you believed in God, they would look at you clinically, you know, suggest that you needed a referral.
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.
'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.
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.
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.
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.
We are now operating a school system in America that's more segregated than at any time since the death of Martin Luther King.
I hope to be remembered for writing books about social justice that also have enough aesthetic value to endure as works of literature.
It's sad that some people who have one exciting moment spend the rest of their lives rehashing it.
I am opposed to the use of public funds for private education.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
I feel, in the end, as if everything I've done has been a failure.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Apartheid does not happen spontaneously, like bad weather conditions.
The answers I remember longest are the ones that answer questions that I didn't think of asking.