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Posted at 8:56 AM ET, 12/30/2009

Jay Mathews, E.D. Hirsch and other education greats honored

By Valerie Strauss

My unrivaled colleague Jay Mathews is one of the 2009 winners of the Upton Sinclair Awards given by to people who have made lasting contributions to the world of education.

Jay joins these other eminent winners: E.D. Hirsch,
John Goodlad, Billy Reagan, Geoffrey Canada, Frederick Hess
and Jay Hartling.

It is worth taking time to read about these people, and you can do that here.

I have worked with Jay for years and have always been astounded at his depth and breadth of knowledge, his unrelenting energy and optimism, and his extraordinary collegiality.

There is no one like him in education reporting, and, actually, there never has been.

Jay had been a tremendous reporter before his entry into the world of education. He was the first China correspondent for The Washington Post and the co-author, with his wife Linda Mathews, of a book on China called “One Billion.”

When he left foreign affairs, he instantly raised the level of reporting in the education world with his talent and has, for several decades, been the dean of schools coverage. He has become known as a strong advocate for the Advanced Placement Program, the International Baccalaureate, as well as his Challenge Index that ranks high schools.

But his work goes well beyond those issues. Whether you agree with Jay or not is beside the point. He is an original who has had strong impact in education.

I, along with my other colleagues, salute him.

Here’s the write-up on Jay from the award list:

Jay Mathews, reporter for The Washington Post, has been a beacon of light in the realm of education. Parents, teachers, counselors and all those involved in education have a willing ear and advocate in Jay Mathews.

He has contributed much to education and his book, “Work Hard. Be Nice,” is this year’s winner of The Outstanding Book in Education Award. This book highlights the “hard work” of the KIPP founders, Feinberg and Levin.

Jay continues to investigate various aspects of education and always has something new, novel, original and refreshing to discuss and examine.

Jay is author of the following books: “One Billion: A China Chronicle” (1985); “Escalante: The Best Teacher in America” ( 1988); “A Mother’s Touch: The Tiffany Callo Story” (1992); “Class Struggle : What’s Wrong ( and Right) with America’s Best Public High Schools” (1998); “Harvard Schmarvard: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College that is Best for You” (2003); and “Supertest: How the International Baccalaureate Can Strengthen Our Schools” ( 2005).

He may be best known for his rating system that ranks high schools which is used by Newsweek and The Washington Post.

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For all the Post’s Education coverage, please see

By Valerie Strauss  | December 30, 2009; 8:56 AM ET
Tags:  Jay Mathews, education awards  
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Although this is a little self-serving, I hope Jay gives credit to those who thoughtfully respond to his articles.
I think we keep him from taking it easy.

Posted by: edlharris | December 31, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations, Jay! I enjoy reading your blog.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | January 1, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

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