“Bracey Report” Curtain-Call Takes on Trendy Education Reforms

The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education, 2009 | Education and the Public Interest Center.

The report starts with this preface.

In Memoriam: Gerald Bracey 1940 – 2009
For 18 years, “The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education,” an annual review of education research and policy issues, was published by Phi Delta Kappan. In 2009, EPIC/EPRU was pleased to become its new publisher. Sadly, Gerald W. Bracey passed away before he finished editing what will be the final Bracey Report.

We have suffered a great loss. Although he was a social scientist of considerable talent he eschewed esoteric language and instead spoke and wrote plainly. His writings left strong impressions on readers, whether expert or layperson. When he judged that an official, a newspaper, or a scholar had played lightly with the truth, his expert knowledge was directed toward withering critiques. He fearlessly exposed the errors in fact, flaws in methods and illogic that were built into all too much education research and all too many education “reforms.” Jerry had little patience for received wisdom, no matter how powerful its purveyors.

Fortunately for us all, Jerry’s last report was sufficiently enough developed that it was possible for Susan Ohanian and Pat Hinchey to finish the necessary editorial work. Jerry’s wife, Iris, helped, too, by encouraging us to publish the final Bracey Report and by providing Jerry’s notes and reference material. As a result, the Report has been completed with fidelity to Jerry’s words and intentions. The Report is almost completely Jerry’s but, of course, any shortcomings are ours.

The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education, 2009 (PDF)

This year’s Bracey Report identifies and discusses the research support (vs. the popular support) for what the author considered to be three widely held assumptions about how to reform public education:

  1. High-quality schools can eliminate the achievement gap between whites and minorities.
  2. Mayoral control of public schools is an improvement over the more common elected board governance systems.
  3. Higher standards will improve the performance of public schools.

My posts about the untimely passing of Gerald Bracey are here:

Please read this report –The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education, 2009 (PDF)


Dr. Gerald Bracey can rest in peace – the rest of us need to get busy

The previous post (Jerry Bracey – Rest in Peace) contained the sad news of the passing of Dr. Gerald Bracey. People have written eulogies extolling his tenacity in unveiling the truth about school and educational policy as he saw it, and how he never let up in exposing it when he saw research being used inconsistently, or worse, with intent to deceive. Dr. Bracey was not just a curmudgeon, in 2003 he won the American Educational Research Association’s “Relating Research to Practice” award for his scholarship in the field of education research.

If you read any of the remembrances, you will find many links to his publications and thoughts. Some are available online, some are in journals and books.

I thought it would be helpful to create a short list of some places to find his important work.

Gerald Bracey on Statlit.org – This website features authors who write on statistical literacy in a wide range of fields. The page on Gerald Bracey includes his famous “32 Principles of Data Interpretation” starting with, “Do the arithmetic” and “Show me the data”.

Education Disinformation Detection and Reporting Agency (EDDRA) – This is Gerald Bracey’s own website, “… dedicated to analyzing reports, dispelling rumors, rebutting lies about public education in the United States. It represents an on-line version of the work I have been doing since 1991.” The website links to many of his annual “Report on the Condition of Public Education” with his Golden Apple awards, plus “Rotten Apple” awards given to those who “represent the worst in public education.”

Articles on the Huffington Post – Dr. Bracey’s most recent and most political articles can be found on the Huffington Post. In dozens of extremely readable articles he calls out politicians, business leaders, educators, journalists, and others who skew statistics to make the their pre-determined “education solutions” seem research-based. If you want a quick taste, try Nine Myths About Public Schools, where he takes on merit pay, global competitiveness, high-stakes tests, and much more in a few short paragraphs.

Gerald Bracey at EPIC/EPRU – A few dozen research papers tackling current educational issues such as charter schools, NCLB, vouchers, high-stakes testing, and more.

Finally, a word about The Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC). EPIC is housed at the University of Colorado at Boulder and partners with the Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU) and the Commercialism in Education Research Unit (CERU) at Arizona State University to produce policy briefs and think tank reviews. From the website, “These centers provide a variety of audiences, both academic and public, with information, analysis, and insight to further democratic deliberation regarding educational policies.”

EPIC and EPRU also created the Education Policy Alliance, a nationwide network of university-based research centers and organizations.

Dr. Gerald Bracey created a legacy that must not fade away. Those of us left must take up the mantle, stand on his shoulders, and continue the work.

Jerry Bracey, Rest in Peace

from EPIC. Education and the Public Interest Center, School of Education, University of Colorado at Boulder. posted with permission.

October 22, 2009

Jerry Bracey, Rest in Peace
Brilliant. Blunt. Independent. Truth. Integrity. Iconoclast. Irascible. Uncompromising.

After our colleague and friend Jerry Bracey passed away in his sleep during the night of October 20th at the age of 69, the memories and tributes hit our in-boxes, and it started to sink in that Jerry’s dominant presence as an eloquent and reliable truth-teller would no longer grace the educational landscape.

The evening before he died, Jerry was working on a new “Bracey Report” for us. It’s pure Bracey – forthright, clear, compelling, and grounded in evidence. We will finish that work and publish it at epicpolicy.org.

Just a few months back, Jerry put out a new book, Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality, which joins a shelf full of earlier works, including many published with EPIC/EPRU.

Some online tributes to Jerry are already up and can be read read here (Sherman Dorn), here (EdWeek, Debra Viadero), here (EdNotesOnline), here (WashPost, Jay Mathews), here (DairyStateDad), here (EducationExaminer, Caroline Grannan), here (Schools Matter, Jim Horn), here (Thomas Mertz), and here (SubstanceNews, George Schmidt). If there are others you feel should be added and posted at the EPIC website please email atepic@colorado.edu.

We have also responded to calls from many of the people who have been touched by Jerry and his work to create a memorial fund or project that we could donate to in his memory. We have now created one, attached to this policy center which has recently been Jerry’s academic home.

Working with the CU Foundation, we are building a memorial fund that would, if fully funded, provide a doctoral fellowship in Jerry’s name. We’re thinking of it as the Bracey Memorial Fellowship, given to a doctoral student with a research-based, hard-nosed commitment to further truth, equity, and social justice.

Pleased visit the memorial fund website to make a donation Don’t click the “in memorial of” option since you probably don’t have the info requested about his next of kin (his wife, Iris). Instead, just write “In memorial of Jerry Bracey” in the box. You may also mail checks, made out to “CU Foundation” with “EPIC – Jerry Bracey” in the memo line, directly to the School’s Development Officer, Margot Neufeld, at:

University of Colorado at Boulder
School of Education
Margot Neufeld
249 UCB, room 116
Boulder, CO 80309

The Foundation has no fees for memorial gifts — all the money goes to the gift purpose (student support in Jerry’s name).

If we reach the $25,000 level for all donations in Jerry’s name, we can create an ongoing scholarship/fellowship. Even if we do not reach that threshold, we would still use the money for student support in Jerry’s name.

©2009 EPIC. Education and the Public Interest Center, School of Education