To the Editor:
I was deeply saddened by the death of one of the greatest educators of all time, Asa Grant Hilliard III, but I was distraught at the paltry, demeaning obituary printed in Education Week (“Asa Hilliard, Expert On Africa, Dies,” Aug. 29, 2007).
Mr. Hilliard wasn’t just “a professor of urban education at Georgia State University”—he was, since 1980, the Fuller E. Callaway professor of urban education at Georgia State University, with joint appointments in the departments of educational policy studies and educational psychology and special education.
He was not “visiting” Egypt when he died. He opened the plenary session of a conference of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations. He also was there on a study tour, and had taken study trips with students and teachers to Egypt and Ghana for the past 30 years.
Mr. Hilliard, who held a doctorate in educational psychology, did a lot more than edit essays in 1989, as your obituary implies. And to end the piece with the critique from that year that described his essays as “pseudoscience” is irresponsible.
There is so much more that he accomplished. For example, he served on the faculty at San Francisco State University for 18 years. During that time, he was a department chair for two years and the dean of education for eight. He also was a consultant to the Peace Corps and the superintendent of schools in Monrovia, Liberia. He participated in the development of several national assessment systems and developmental assessments of young children and infants. Active in the field of forensic psychology, he served as an expert witness in several landmark federal cases on test validity and bias. He was the recipient of numerous honors and awards.
There are many great pieces written about the passing of Asa Hilliard that celebrate his substantive contributions to the world and in particular to education. I found your obituary to be at best a disturbing, limited effort, and I recommend you do a longer piece that examines his tremendous contributions to improving the education of all children.
College of Education
University of North Carolina at Charlotte