Aesthetics 101

In the No Child Left Behind decade, there is a way to measure
myriad aspects of our education system: achievement levels, teacher
success rates, accountability, you name it. But where is the
measure for aesthetic appeal-and happiness?

A central component of the public school experience-how the
school looks and feels to students-is too often ignored, argues
National Book Award winner Jonathan Kozol in Greater
(Fall/Winter 2006). He recalls his days as an
inner-city elementary school teacher some 40 years ago and the
filth and disrepair of the buildings even then. He does not see
much improvement today, and he wonders how students can learn and
grow in such uninspired environments. ‘There is no misery index for
the children of apartheid education,’ writes Kozol. ‘There ought to

His plea is impassioned. ‘This nation can afford to give clean
places and green spaces . . . to virtually every child in our
public schools,’ argues Kozol. ‘That we refuse to do so, and
continue to insist that our refusal can be justified by
explanations such as insufficiency of funds and periodic ‘fiscal
crises’ and the like, depends upon a claim to penury to which a
nation with our economic superfluity is not entitled.’ –Laine

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