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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 11, 2007

Jonathan Kozol reads for 'Live from Prairie Lights' Oct. 23

Famed educator and journalist Jonathan Kozol will read from his new book, "Letters to a Young Teacher," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, in the Marriott Hotel in Coralville. His reading is co-sponsored by Prairie Lights Books and the Iowa City Community School District.

Listen to the reading live via the University of Iowa's Writing University Web site at The event will also be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, originating on UI radio station WSUI-AM 910. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City, WOI-AM 640 in Ames and KRNI-AM 1010 in Cedar Falls.

A starred review in Publishers Weekly summarized: "Forty years ago, 'Death at an Early Age' catapulted Kozol into national prominence as a compassionate yet clearheaded observer of the rotten state of American education. His latest book reviews many of the basic issues he has spent his life exploring through teaching and writing.

"Here, he cleverly weaves his observations -- as well as a thinly disguised biographical memoir -- into a series of 16 letters written to Francesca, a first-grade teacher at an inner-city public school in Boston. Overall, the book will delight and encourage first-year (or for that matter, 40th-year) teachers who need Kozol's reminders of the ways that their beautiful profession can bring joy and beauty, mystery and mischievous delight into the hearts of little people in their years of greatest curiosity.

"His forceful opinions are convincingly argued -- most notably, that educational vouchers will deepen divisions between diverse groups in racially decided cities; that middle schools demoralize students and should be abolished entirely; and that the Gates Foundation made a damaging mistake in aggressively funding a small school craze that will reinforce the racial isolation of the students they enroll."

Howard Zinn wrote, "Jonathan Kozol's advice to ex-student Francesca shows all the qualities that make him the nation's wisest and boldest and most clear-headed writer on education."

And Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, added, "This book cuts to the heart of the matter of what it means to be a teacher today. The truth about testing, vouchers and their impact on public schools -- it's all captured here. But here, too, we also experience the exhilaration of putting together lesson plans, the joys of comforting children, and the anxiety of a teacher's first days in school. Francesca's journey will leave you hopeful for our nation's children."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights, 319-337-2681,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),