Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar Jonathan Kozol moved to a poor black Boston neighborhood in 1964 and became a fourth-grade teacher. Three years later he wrote Death at an Early Age, which chronicled his first year in the classroom. The poignant volume won a National Book Award. He has written nine more books since then. In his newest, Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope (Crown, 400 pp., $25), Kozol introduces readers to an after-school program at St. Ann's of Morrisania, an Episcopal church in the South Bronx. As he did in 1995's Amazing Grace, Kozol exposes the horrific conditions of America's inner-city public schools and reminds readers that behind the political debates about public education are tenacious and loving children.

Who are these children that you've written about?

The children in Ordinary Resurrections go to public elementary school in the South Bronx. These are some of the poorest children in America, living under conditions of grossly inferior health care and savagely unequal education. Seventy-five percent of men in their part of the South Bronx are unemployed. Many of the families have a yearly income of $10,000.

The high school into which most of the kids are tracked held, as of 1999, about 2,000 students in four grades. Ninety of them made it to 12th grade, and 65 graduated. Far more children from that high school will end up in prison than in college.

The same elementary-school children go after school to St. Ann's& amp;mdash;a small Episcopal church, extremely poor, run by one of the most astonishing preachers I've ever met. Mother Martha was a high-powered corporate lawyer who gave it up in the '80s to become a priest. She has created a remarkable after-school program for children& ...

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