Wednesday, October 21, 2009

R.I.P. Jerry Bracey

In one of my freelancing hats I provide editing services to a network of education policy scholars writing on various aspects of education reform. One of them was Jerry Bracey, who, I've just been informed, passed away the night before last.

I met Jerry once and had the pleasure -- and it was a pleasure -- of working with his copy many times. Few could see through the cant and disingenuousness of so much of what passes for scholarship on education matters as he did, or write about it with such vigor and clarity. If I were to summarize the bulk of his work that I got to see, it would come down to this: Jerry standing on street corner, megaphone in hand, calmly pointing out to anyone who was willing to listen, "The Emperor has no clothes!" -- and providing the evidence to prove it.

The person who informed me of Jerry's passing writes about him far more eloquently than I could, and I print his thoughts with his permission:
The thought I keep having about Jerry is how his integrity and brilliance so often shown through, even overshadowing his irascibility -- or maybe it was that integrity and brilliance that created the irascibility. His contributions to those of us who worked with him -- including the two-dozen items he authored for us (he was finishing one up this week) -- were great. But his larger body of work was even greater -- consistently dedicated to statements of unvarnished truths and a dominant feature on the educational landscape for decades.

A couple days ago, John Thompson, on the "This Week In Education" blog speculated about paying pundits for their performance: "Pay them only for what they get right, or for judgments based on strong evidence."

His first thought was this:

"But if we evaluate on cold hard accuracy, the top bonuses would go to Gerald Bracey, and think of how blunt Bracey would be after receiving the full recognition he deserves."

We're going to tremendously miss that person and that voice.

I can think of no more fitting epitaph.

Via the above link (John Thompson on Alexander Russo), a sampling of Bracey's recent work at HuffPost.

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