Book Review
Letters to a Young Teacher by Jonathan Kozol. Crown Publishers, NY, 2007; 228 pages, ISBN 978-0-307-39371-5, hardback, $19.95.

Jonanthan Kozol, tireless advocate for social justice in education, calls his latest book "an invitation to a beautiful profession."  It is addressed particularly at those considering becoming public school teachers in poor, segregated, and usually urban elementary schools, and to those "who are looking for direction, for practical suggestions, or a sense of solidarity in what is frequently the lonely work of seeking justice in our public schools" (p. 259). 

The book is based on  letters, written over the course of a year, to a first-year teacher in a segregated Boston elementary school.  These give some practical advice on matters such as parent-teacher-administration relations, often drawn from the author's experience as a teacher and a visitor to many classrooms over the years.  They also comment on such issues as educational testing, vouchers, handling difficult students, the misuse of "diversity," jargon, and how wrong it is to lie to children about injustices and the truth of their situation.  He urges teachers to stand up as witnesses to the unjust conditions in their schools and to policies and teaching practices that are stultifying to their students, even though it can be hard to stand up to administrators, to speak even in a restrained way in school-wide or district meetings, or in journals and the media.  Thought not as intense as his earlier books, it still contains much worthwhile information. – Sally Dougherty (February 2009)