Education Funding Obituary


December 09, 2014 2 min read
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Former Teacher Writer Fatally Shot in Calif.

David Ruenzel, a teacher and education writer who was a contributor to Teacher Magazine and Education Week, was shot and killed late last month.

Mr. Ruenzel, 60, was hiking on Nov. 25 in the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve near his home in Oakland, Calif., when he was fatally shot, possibly in connection with a robbery, according to media accounts.

A native of Wisconsin, Mr. Ruenzel started out as an English teacher at University Lake School in Hartland, Wis. Later, he taught journalism and literature at the Athenian School, a private college-prep school in Danville, Calif.


From the early 1990s through 2007, he was a key contributor to Teacher Magazine, the predecessor of the online-only Education Week Teacher. Many of his articles also appeared in Education Week, as did a Commentary essay in March of this year.

“Over the years, a lot of writers sent copy my way, but Renzel’s pieces stand out even now because he was so literate and slipped so deftly into the skin and minds of those he wrote about,” Ronald A. Wolk, the chair emeritus of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit publisher of Education Week and Teacher, said in an email.

Mr. Ruenzel covered a wide range of topics for Teacher. He wrote articles on Montessori and Waldorf schools, seminar-based instructional methods, student-run schools, efforts to de-regimentize middle schools, tough-love leadership in urban schools, and the trend toward intensive academic instruction in kindergarten.

In recent years, Mr. Ruenzel worked as a writer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

–Anthony Rebora

Education Alliance Founder Dies

Gerard “Gerry” Leeds, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded several advocacy groups dedicated to improving education for children in poor communities, died Nov. 27. He was 92.


Mr. Leeds and his wife, Lilo, founded the Alliance for Excellent Education in 1999 with the goal of shining a spotlight on the nation’s at-risk secondary students, those likely to leave high school without a diploma or to graduate unprepared for success in college and the workplace. The Washington-based advocacy group has made its mark by targeting issues such as high school quality and dismal graduation rates.

The couple launched a like-minded organization, the Institute for Student Achievement, in 1990 to help schools strive for better-prepared graduates and fewer dropouts. The institute, which merged with the Educational Testing Service in 2013, now partners with 80 schools in Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Texas.

In addition, the Leeds family founded the Schott Foundation for Public Education, a Cambridge, Mass.-based philanthropy focused on equity in child care and K-12 education.

–Corey Mitchell

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A version of this article appeared in the December 10, 2014 edition of Education Week as Obituaries


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