Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gerald Bracey

I didn't know much about Jerry Bracey and had little contact with him, but the work he did in battling the Ed Deformers was immense. (Just google him.) With so few resources to battle the forces arrayed against us, this is a giant voice that will be missed. The one contact I had with him was an email when he heard Diane Ravitch was going to be given the UFT's John Dewey Award. (He and Diane did not exactly get along.) "Are you holding some kind of protest," he wanted to know? He seemed ready to head to New York if that was happening. It wasn't. (That was before Ravitch become a major voice fighting the ed deformers herself over the past few years - there's more than a bit of irony here if she fills some of the gap we have lost with Bracey's death. Her upcoming book (March) promises to blow the lid off.)


Yesterday afternoon, Susan Ohanian sent out the very sad news about Jerry's death with this announcement:

There are no postings to send tonight.

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.

Gerald Bracey died unexpectedly today. His loss is devastating--as expert and as friend and mentor. Jerry didn't suffer facile argument quietly--whether it came from the left or the right. He was our mentor, the fellow who we could trust to explain hard data, the one we could depend on not to capitulate.

Fearless in the face of power, Jerry told the truth and wasn't afraid to make enemies.

Rest in Peace, Jerry. You leave a void in our hearts and in our struggle for justice for the children.

Susan


George Schmidt followed:
Bracey was one of the authors on this cartoon
October 21, 2009

Colleagues and friends:

I'm sending the following to CORE and Substance and then going upstairs to tell Sharon.

One other thing: Going through all the stuff Jerry wrote, I came across "Bill Gates, If you're so rich, how come you're not smart?" an Arizona State University Point of View Essay from 2005.

Brief, to the point, and pure Bracey.

Made me laugh again, and remember a tiny bit about what makes Jerry so alive forever.

Here's what I have so far:

Although CORE is fairly young, as everyone knows, many have been in these same struggles for a long, long, long time. One of the best was Jerry (Gerald) Bracey, who wrote more than a dozen books about the misuse of high-stakes testing and the lies of official power. Jerry also served as an expert witness for me during the Board of Education's hearing that terminated my employment, spent numerous times in Chicago, and was one of the most delightfulpeople to join in the fight against data driven drivel. His comprehensive knowledge of both the history of these idiocies and the current iterations of each idiocy, coupled with a really great sense of humor, were one of the strongest things about our movement, even in our darkest days under "No Child Left Behind" and since under "Race to the Top."

When I received word through Fair Test's ARN (Assessment Reform Network) and from Susan and others, I wrote the following:

I'm still sitting here saying, "No. This is impossible. It was only yesterday..."

Because it was. Our last conversation was two days ago.

Jerry called here to ask about Arne Duncan's claim that over 50 percent of the (high school) students in Chicago are attending schools outside their attendance area. He was in his usual good spirits and sounded as healthy as ever.

We talked, as usual, for a long time about the other projects he was working on.

He said he had to go because it was his turn to walk the dog.

My first thought is speechlessness.

We will have to share more soon.

Right now, all I can say is that it was a privilege to work with Jerry, to print his stuff, to stand with him in our battles, and to consider him a friend. So much of what he did will live on forever, thanks to his relentless sense of humor and hard work.

We will all treasure his memory.

And for now share our feelings as best we can with his family.

Please let us know the arrangements as soon as possible. Who will be there in Port Townsend (or where) on our behalf? There are so many "our" for this behalf it's hard to know where to begin.

That's all for now,

George N. Schmidt
Editor, Substance

www.substancenews.net


Sharon Higgins at the Perimeter Primate commented:
The Perimeter Primate said...

This is an enormous loss. Jerry was an extraordinarily clear and independent thinker.

The modern education reform establishment desperately needs to read his recently released book, "Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality."

Perhaps we can all pay tribute to Jerry's life work by purchasing a copy of "Education Hell" and send it with a loving note to our favorite ed reformer-type.

Here are some people to start with:
- Arne Duncan and his entire staff at the DoE
- Democrats for Education Reform (Joe Williams, Whitney Tilson, Newt Gingrich, Al Sharpton, etc.)
- Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg
- Bill Gates and his entire staff at the Gates Foundation
- Eli Broad and his entire staff and the Broad Foundation
- Any Broad-trained superintendents or residents in your local school district
- Jay Green and his staff at the U. of Arkansas Department of Education Reform
- etc.

4 comments:

  1. Indeed. As a reader on the EDDRA list-serve, I counted on Gerry to reveal how those in power misused data to "prove" their arguments. We finally met last year at AERA where, as always, he was spirited, critical, and caring.

    David Hursh

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is an enormous loss. Jerry was an extraordinarily clear and independent thinker.

    The modern education reform establishment desperately needs to read his recently released book, "Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality."

    Perhaps we can all pay tribute to Jerry's life work by purchasing a copy of "Education Hell" and send it with a loving note to our favorite ed reformer-type.

    Here are some people to start with:
    - Arne Duncan and his entire staff at the DoE
    - Democrats for Education Reform (Joe Williams, Whitney Tilson, Newt Gingrich, Al Sharpton, etc.)
    - Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg
    - Bill Gates and his entire staff at the Gates Foundation
    - Eli Broad and his entire staff and the Broad Foundation
    - Any Broad-trained superintendents or residents in your local school district
    - Jay Green and his staff at the U. of Arkansas Department of Education Reform
    - etc.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am a high school principal in a very small school district in SE Ohio. I have followed Mr. Bracey for years, even before I became a pricipal. His comments and arguments have bolstered many of my discussions and presentations in staff meetings. I will miss him dearly.

    ReplyDelete
  4. HE was a great guy with alot of knowledge. We really miss him.

    ReplyDelete

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