Education Obituary


September 15, 2015 1 min read
Andrew Kohut

Andrew Kohut, one of the nation’s foremost opinion pollsters, died Sept. 8 from leukemia. He was 73.

Kohut was the founding director of the Pew Research Center, where he also served as president from 2004 to 2012. He led the Gallup Organization from 1979 to 1989 and founded several research groups tracking opinion on policy and politics.

He was perhaps best known for creating more-nuanced profiles of voters, based not just on political party but also on values and interests, which revealed ways that support for education policies such as charter schools could span different political parties. At Pew, Kohut helped shape studies of college attainment, public support for education, and opinions among Americans with different levels of schooling.

Among his work was an in-depth poll on President George W. Bush’s legacy in education. Kohut also was a frequent public-opinion commenter for media organizations, including Education Week.

In 2005, he received the American Association for Public Opinion Research award for exceptionally distinguished achievement.

–Sarah D. Sparks

Thomas Sobol, a former New York state education commissioner and professor of education, died Aug. 27 of complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 83.

Sobol was appointed to the schools chief’s post in 1987. He resigned in 1995, citing a clash of values with newly elected Republican Gov. George E. Pataki.

He most recently served as the Christian A. Johnson professor of outstanding educational practice at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he led its Superintendents Work Conference.

Sobol was known for promoting an inclusive curriculum. A task force he formed to create a multicultural social studies curriculum in New York “ignited a national debate over its proposals for inclusion of minority viewpoints in the study of history,” Education Week wrote at the time.

–Evie Blad

A version of this article appeared in the September 16, 2015 edition of Education Week as Obituaries