Special Report
Federal Commentary

20 Years Later: Two Views

April 23, 2003 1 min read

Of the many possible Commentary authors for the 20th anniversary of the release of A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, the 1983 “open letter to the American people” declaring that mediocrity in education posed a threat to the nation, two names rose to the top of the list. They belong to two giants of the era of school reform that began in the 1980s, educator-authors whose pathbreaking books have helped shape the thinking of practitioners and policy experts over the past two decades.

John I. Goodlad, the president of the Institute for Educational Inquiry, based in Seattle, began his teaching career in a one-room school and has since taught at every level, from 1st grade to graduate school. While the dean of the graduate school of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, he was tapped to direct the massive research undertaking that culminated in “A Study of Schooling in the United States.” His 1984 book based on that study, A Place Called School, is considered a landmark document.

Focusing later on teachers and teacher education, his work led to other influential books, including Places Where Teachers Are Taught. From 1986 until 2000, he directed the Center for Educational Renewal, located at the University of Washington, where he remains a professor emeritus of education.

Read Mr. Goodlad’s Commentary, “A Nation in Wait.”

, the founder and chairman emeritus of the Coalition of Essential Schools, has been called “arguably the leading educational reformer in the United States.” After serving as the dean of Harvard University’s graduate school of education and the headmaster of Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., he received a grant in 1979 to head “A Study of High Schools.” Among the products of that study was his 1984 book.

In 1984, he also founded the Coalition of Essential Schools, a reform network through which he has worked with hundreds of high schools. He also was the founding director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, located at Brown University. After retiring from Brown, he took a one-year appointment as principal of the coalition school in Devens, Mass. He is now a visiting fellow at the Harvard education school.

Read Mr. Sizer’s Commentary, “Two Reports.”

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