Foreword and Prologue, "Looking Backward: 1964 to 1991,"
• The author explains that his research takes place between the years 1988 and 1990. Readers who read the book now must be aware that certain observations are decades old and may be out of date. Also, names of students are sometimes changed. Adult names are often left unchanged unless the adult has asked that his or her name not be used.
• The author, Kozol, remembers his first teaching job in 1964 in a poor, predominantly non-white Boston school. Conditions are terrible. His students have had 13 different teachers in one year and use part of the school gym as their classroom. They test far below their actual grade level. To reawaken the children's interest in school, Kozol reads them poems by Langston Hughes. One poem about broken dreams makes a little girl cry, and she memorizes the poem because it seems to reflect her life...
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