Teaching & Learning Obituary

Writer, Former EdWeek Reporter Passes Away

By Debra Viadero — February 02, 2021 | Corrected: February 26, 2021 2 min read
Bob Rothman
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Corrected: An earlier version of this article included an incorrect name for the National Center on Education and the Economy.

Robert Rothman, an author of several books on academic standards and testing and an award-winning former Education Week reporter, died at his home in Washington, D.C. late last month from pancreatic cancer.

He was 61.

Rothman covered curriculum and assessments for Education Week from 1986 to 1993 but spent most of his career writing and consulting for national organizations working to improve education. He was known among friends and colleagues as a gentle person and a gifted writer who provided thoughtful analysis on complex education issues and demonstrated a persevering commitment to educational equity.

“Whether the topic was structural racism in the United States, teacher professionalism in China, or any topic in between, Bob always seemed to have a learned and well-reasoned view to share,” Jason S. Dougal, the executive vice president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, wrote in a memo to the staff. Rothman worked at NCEE as a senior editor at the time of his death.

“But more important than that, Bob was a kind soul whose support of his colleagues never waivered,” Dougal continued. “He could find the lesson in any setback but also cut to the heart of the matter on the most complicated issues. He often spoke quietly, but his opinion spoke volumes.”

Rothman wrote three books on standards and assessments: Measuring Up: Standards, Assessment and School Reform; Something in Common: The Common Core Standards and the Next Chapter in American Education, and Fewer, Clear, Higher: How the Common Core State Standards Can Change Classroom Practice. He also co-wrote Teaching in the Flat World of Learning with Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond and worked as a ghostwriter on other books for prominent education scholars.

Remembered as an ‘insightful reporter’

Rothman began to develop his assessment expertise in his years at Education Week. While there, he also won an award from the American Psychological Association for a special report he co-wrote on cognitive science, before leaving to do a fellowship on assessment at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Retired Education Week Executive Editor Gregory M. Chronister, who worked with Rothman from his first day on the job, described him as “a tenacious and insightful reporter, and a man of integrity and kindness.”

“He devoted his career in writing and policy to improving education for all students,” said Chronister. “His death is such a loss for the field he loved.”

Besides his stint at NCEE, Rothman also worked as a study director at the National Research Council for a national committee on standards and testing, a journal editor at the Annenberg Institute on School Reform, and a senior fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education.

His battle with cancer lasted many months, yet he continued to work from home until two days before his death, according to his wife, Karla Winters. Besides his wife, Rothman is survived by his daughter, Cleo Rothman; a son, Aaron Rothman, who lives in Florida; his brother Howard Rothman, also a writer, and his mother, Ida Rothman.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum Calif. Deletes Popular Affirmation From Curriculum After Suit Claims It's an Aztec Prayer
This lawsuit is one of the first major legal challenges to the state's model ethnic studies curriculum.
Kristen Taketa, The San Diego Union-Tribune
3 min read
Image of a gavel.
Marilyn Nieves/E+
Social Studies Critical Race Theory and the Fight Over History Standards: 6 Things to Know
EdWeek examined how the backlash to classroom discussions on race has set back efforts to expand what students learn about American history.
2 min read
Illustration of tug of war.
Illustration by Laura Baker/Education Week, SvetaZi, and iStock/Getty
Reading & Literacy Spotlight Spotlight on K-3 Literacy
This Spotlight will help take a closer look at the ‘Wonders’ curriculum and updated state policies on literacy plus more.
Teaching Opinion Want to Have Fun in the Classroom? Try Learning Games
They're valuable for a host of reasons, including assessing students' background knowledge and building a trusting community.
18 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."