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Gerald W. Bracey, education's most acidic pundit, dead at 69

Education Week just reported that Gerald W. Bracey---Jerry to his many friends, including me---died peacefully in his sleep sometime Tuesday night. This was a shock to me. I didn't know he was sick. He had sounded fine a week ago when he called me from his new home in Port Townsend, Wash. His wife, Iris, confirmed the news to Edweek but did not appear to know the cause of death.

Jerry was an original. He began his career as an educational psychologist on the elite track that generally ends in big jobs in government, or universities. He had a PhD from Stanford. His grasp of policy and the problems with testing were legendary. And yet he could not rein in his rapier wit or his rage at what officialdom and the media were doing to distort what was happening in schools, so he became a professional critic---writer, author, lecturer and valued source to people like me.

One of my most recent pieces about Jerry was about him telling off President Obama, a man he had voted for, even campaigned for. But he was not going to cut the president any slack if he said something dumb.

We journalists love great quotes. Jerry was full of them. We journalists hate nasty emails telling us we are idiots. Jerry supplied a lot of those too. I hope to write a formal obit for the Post soon. But for the moment I am sad I am never going to hear those tart comments, or read another of his slams at unexamined assumptions and unchecked facts. We will miss you, Jerry.

By Jay Mathews  | October 21, 2009; 4:30 PM ET
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He will be sorely missed by all of us who avidly read education articles, particularly those that deal with testing and statistics. He explained issues with testing so that lay people could understand the issues, and he especially took apart the media's presentation of NCLB and standardized testing.

He was a huge supporter of public schools and debunking the myths of the "education crisis."

Posted by: researcher2 | October 21, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Jerry was my constituent for many years. It is some comfort to know that he had taken the President to task over a policy issue, since he certainly had no qualms about letting me know when he thought I was on the wrong track! He cared deeply about public schools and about kids. Education needs more people like him.

Posted by: kjamundson | October 21, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Who will take his indispensable place?

Posted by: craigspinks | October 22, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

What a loss. I'm shocked and saddened to hear this news. Everyday I looked forward to Dr. Bracy's insightful emails from his EDDRA group. There is no one to take his place. The corporate takeover of public education will now continue without dissent.

Posted by: truthteller11 | October 25, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

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