College & Workforce Readiness

A. Graham Down, Liberal-Arts Advocate, Dies at 85

By Liana Loewus — September 04, 2014 1 min read

A. Graham Down, who served as executive director and president of the Council for Basic Education from 1974 to 1994, died on Aug. 30. He was 85 years old.

Down was a proponent of high academic standards and a strong liberal-arts curriculum in schools, which the Council for Basic Education advocated for until it closed its doors in 2004.

A graduate of Cambridge and Oxford Universities, Down also formerly served as acting director of the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program. Over the past few years, he wrote online book reviews for Education Next, a journal published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He was an accomplished concert musician, specializing in piano, organ, and harpsichord.

For more on Down’s work, see this Commentary he wrote for Education Week in 1983 titled “Inequality, Testing, Utilitarianism: The ‘Three Killers of Excellence.’”

A. Graham Down in a 1993 file photo

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.