Education A National Roundup

Death: Barbara A. Sizemore

By Ann Bradley — September 21, 2004 1 min read

Barbara A. Sizemore, one of the first African-American women to serve as the superintendent of a city school system and a lifelong crusader for teaching black children to read, died on July 24. She was 76 and had cancer.

Ms. Sizemore ran the District of Columbia public schools from 1972 to 1975. She went on to conduct research at the University of Pittsburgh on minority students’ achievement before moving to Chicago, where she was the dean of DePaul University’s school of education from 1992 to 1998.

She was an ardent champion of using traditional methods to teach black children to read and to pass standardized tests, which she often referred to as “the new lynching tool.”

An adviser to Paul G. Vallas while he served as the chief executive officer of the Chicago public schools in the mid-1990s, Ms. Sizemore won a contract to use her “School Achievement Structure,” a series of 10 steps for improving student learning, in low-performing schools in the city. (“Barbara Sizemore Stresses Test Preparation to Help Poor Black Children,” March 13, 1996.)