And Some of the Years Newsmakers ...
Last January, the Education Department's outspoken undersecretary, Gary L. Bauer, moved into the White House as assistant to the President for policy development. Mr. Bennett's selection of Glenn C. Loury, a black Harvard University economist, to succeed Mr. Bauer was derailed when Mr. Loury withdrew from the nomination process amid press accounts about turbulence in his personal life. But by the end of the year, a new name had been forwarded and approved by the Senate. Linus Wright, formerly superintendent of schools in Dallas, will become the department's second-highest official.
In two surprise best sellers, Allan Bloom and E.D. Hirsch Jr. added fuel to the debate over curricular content. Mr. Bloom, a University of Chicago philosopher, headed the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list for 10 weeks with his stinging critique of 1960's-style collegiate standards, The Closing of the American Mind. And Mr. Hirsch, a University of Virginia English professor, argued for a return to a more traditional, facts-oriented curriculum in Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs To Know.
More than 21,000 Detroit parents met last April with school and community leaders during an extraordinary two days of action designed to curb the growing incidence of gun-related violence among the city's youths. High-school classes citywide had been canceled for the two-day period after the death of a star athlete, Chester Jackson Jr., who was shot, along with two classmates, in a hallway of Murray-Wright High School.
In a closely watched court case, Vincent Chalk, an Orange County, Calif., teacher with aids, was allowed to return to his classroom job after a federal appeals court ruled there was no medical evidence to suggest he posed a health threat to his students. But in Arcadia, Fla., fears over the spread of aids led to a highly publicized school boycott after the three sons of Clifford Ray--all hemophiliacs who carry the aids virus--were allowed to attend classes. The Rays left Arcadia after a fire of suspicious origin gutted their home.
James S. Coleman, the University of Chicago scholar whose research helped frame the current round of education reform, "rejoined the fray," in his words, with the publication of a new book reaffirming his contention that Catholic schools do a superior job of educating students--and showing that community involvement, not merely rigorous academic requirements, is a key to their success.
Deborah Meier, director of New York City's innovative Central Park East Secondary School, located in East Harlem, became the first precollegiate educator to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. The honor, which has come to be known popularly as the "genius" award, will net Ms. Meier $335,000 over the next five years.
The allegedly "unauthorized" use of government research data by Lynne V. Cheney, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to compile and promote her own report on humanities education led to a brief but acrimonious clash with two prominent researchers--Diane Ravitch, the Columbia University education historian, and Chester E. Finn Jr., an assistant secretary of education. The data in question, drawn from an neh-funded student assessment, were to be released within weeks in a book written by Mr. Finn and Ms. Ravitch. But despite the fisticuffs, Ms. Cheney, at least, declared the others "friends."
James A. Kelly, a teacher, foundation executive, and school-finance expert, was named president of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The Detroit educator was selected from among 250 candidates to head the voluntary certification board created by the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy.
Criticism of the administration of Madeleine C. Will, who heads the Education Department's office of special education and rehabilitative services, burgeoned when a long-running feud with Justin W. Dart Jr., her commissioner of rehabilitative services, became public. Ten national organizations serving the disabled had earlier sent letters critical of Ms. Will's priorities and management style to President Reagan and Secretary of Education Bennett, but, in the end, Mr. Dart was forced to resign.
One of the country's top business leaders, David T. Kearnes, president and chief executive officer of the Xerox Corporation, called for a total restructuring of public education in the United States and urged Presidential candidates to endorse his ambitious "education recovery plan."
A protracted teachers' strike galvanized the discontent of Chicago public-school parents, who not only took to the streets to protest the 19-day delay in the opening of school this fall but also formed and strengthened several grassroots coalitions bent on reforming the schools.
In a busy and combative year, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett criticized the Sandinista government in Nicaragua during a trip to Managua, attacked a report on global education endorsed by the Secretary of State, criticized textbook publishers for serving up "bland porridge," and called the National Education Association "the most entrenched and combative opponent of education reform." He also served as the Administration's chief spear-carrier during the Douglas Ginsburg snafu, giving the embattled Supreme Court nominee the signal to withdraw, and used his "bully pulpit" to call for mandatory drug-testing and greater emphasis on morality and abstinence in aids and sex education.
Terrel H. Bell, meanwhile, told a tale of political infighting and disillusionment in a memoir of his tenure as President Reagan's first Secretary of Education, The Thirteenth Man. Mr. Bell wrote that while he publicly defended the President's programs, he waged a constant, behind-the-scenes battle with "White House ideologues" bent on destroying the federal presence in both education and civil rights.