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Gerald Bracey
Gerald W. Bracey is currently an associate of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, a fellow at the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University and a fellow at the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He maintains a website, the Education Disinformation Detection and Reporting Agency, dedicated to using the real-time power of the Net to debunk dis- and mis-information about public schools.

Bracey is a native of Williamsburg, Virginia and attended the College of William and Mary there before going on to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University. After serving as a Research Psychologist in the Early Childhood Education Research Group at Educational Testing Service, Bracey became the Associate Director of the Institute for Child Study at Indiana University in Bloomington.

In 1965 and 1966, Bracey lived for a year in Hong Kong and traveled widely in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe, then returned to finish his doctorate. After this experience of living abroad and traveling, he held a strong desire to travel without itinerary until the money ran out. In 1973, he resigned his post at Indiana University and traveled the world for four years. Returning to Virginia, he became the Director of Research, Evaluation and Testing for the Virginia Department of Education and, nine years later, moved on to a similar position with the Cherry Creek, Colorado, School District near Denver.

Since 1984, Bracey has authored monthly “Research” columns for Phi Delta Kappan, reporting educational and psychological research studies that are of interest and use to practitioners. This column garnered him the Interpretive Scholarship Award from the American Educational Research Association in 2003. In September, 2005, Bracey began a new “myth busting” column for Principal Leadership, a publication of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

In 1991, a policy-oriented article, “Why Can’t They Be Like We Were?” drew the attention of the New York Times, Washington Post, Education Week, and USA Today, along with the wrath of the first Bush Administration. When Bracey submitted a follow-up in 1992, the editors renamed it “The Second Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education” and asked that it be an annual event. The Sixteenth Bracey Report appeared in the October, 2006 Phi Delta Kappan.

In 1994-95 Bracey was the first Distinguished Fellow for the Agency for Instructional Technology. His researches that year produced a 1995 book, Final Exam: A Study of the Perpetual Scrutiny of American Education. The book provides a century-long history of educational reform as well as histories of educational assessment, educational standards, and educational outcomes.

Bracey summarized most of his findings in a 1997 book, Setting the Record Straight: Responses to Misconceptions About Public Education in America. Published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the book debunks 20 common myths about American schools. Designed for practitioners, each chapter begins “What do I say when people say________?”, filling in the blank with a myth. Each chapter then provides the data needed to refute the myth. In 2004, Bracey revised and updated the book, now published by Heinemann. Heinemann also published his 2003 collection of essays, On the Death of Childhood and the Destruction of Public Schools: The Folly of Today’s Education Policies.

A booklet, “Understanding Education Statistics: It's Easier (And More Important) Than You Think” was published in early 1997 by Educational Research Service and a revised edition appeared in 2003. Phi Delta Kappa published a companion book Put to the Test: An Educator’s and Consumer’s Guide to Standardized Testing 1998 with a revised edition in 2002. Another book, Bail Me Out! Handling Difficult Data and Tough Questions About Public Schools was published in April 2000. He has expanded materials in these three publications and addition more material in a book to make people smarter consumers of statistics. His latest book is Reading Educational Research: How to Avoid Getting Statistically Snookered. The book was published February, 2006 by Heinemann.

Blog Entries by Gerald Bracey

The Washington Post--Union Buster?

Posted September 30, 2009 | 19:54:31 (EST)

On September 27, 2009, the Washington Post, ran an editorial, "Charter Success." It carried a sub-headline, "Poor Children Learn. Teachers Unions Are Not Pleased." It began "Opponents of charter schools are going to have to come up with a new excuse: They can't claim any longer that these non-traditional...

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'Leaders and Laggards' Vanishes, a Good Development

Posted September 30, 2009 | 18:12:30 (EST)

Two and a half years ago, The U. S. Chamber of Commerce and The Center for American Progress released a report on the condition of education in the U. S. It was the typical scare tactic, what we might call the educational variation on "Death Panels."

Fortunately, no...

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Nine Myths About Public Schools

Posted September 25, 2009 | 10:36:47 (EST)

None of this will likely strike you as particularly new, but it might be good to have a bunch of myths lined up and debunked all in one place.

  1. The schools were to blame for letting the Russians get into space first. Granddaddy of all slanders and...

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Nationally, Schools Suck, Local Schools Are Fine

Posted August 31, 2009 | 14:40:44 (EST)

Each year the educational periodical, Phi Delta Kappan, conducts with the Gallup folks a poll of Americans' attitudes towards their public schools. Each year, one result is guaranteed: Respondents say their local schools are OK, but the nation's schools are average to awful.

This is not a parallel with...

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Shouldn't Every Child Have an Education Like the President's Daughters'?

Posted August 5, 2009 | 14:32:54 (EST)

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants a longer school day, a longer school week, and a longer school year and national subject standards, which will inevitably lead to one national test. Duncan wants to institute merit pay, which is a euphemism for paying teachers to produce higher test scores. Such...

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Breaking Free of the Urban Education Plantation

Posted August 3, 2009 | 02:06:52 (EST)

I have written a piece on this topic, but it is too long for the blog. I received this shorter essay recently and decided to present it instead. I don't think that Canada has found the "ideal intervention" for Harlem kids (he'd be on his way to Oslo to get...

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Obama and Duncan Champion Test Abuse

Posted July 27, 2009 | 14:16:45 (EST)

The President of the United States and his Secretary of Education are violating one of the most fundamental principles concerning test use: Tests should be used only for the purpose for which they were developed. If they are to be used for some other purpose, then careful attention must be...

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Mayoral Control of Schools: The New Tyranny

Posted July 21, 2009 | 11:14:06 (EST)

Our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has been on a "listening tour" where he's done most of the talking. He advocates, repeatedly, that mayors should take control of urban schools. Obviously he cannot take an honest look at his own accomplishments under this governance system or -- he'd have to...

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Arnie in (Charter) Wonderland

Posted June 25, 2009 | 17:51:02 (EST)

Arne Duncan recently talked about charter schools on Democracy Now. The segment could have been called "Arne in Wonderland." Some of what he said:

Duncan: "We also need to work together to help people better understand charters. Many people equate charters with privatization, and part of the problem is...
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Robots in Education

Posted June 15, 2009 | 18:28:46 (EST)

Engineers have made great advances in robotics in recent years. Everyday-robots can vacuum rugs and mop floors. More advanced models can act as secretary of education. Call it the Arne model. Boot it up and it talks and talks and talks. But it appears to lack two functions, the ability...

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U.S. Fails International Competitiveness Test: Schools (Rightfully) Blamed

Posted May 20, 2009 | 01:59:32 (EST)

On February 1, 2008, President George W. Bush said "the fundamentals of the economy are strong; we're just going through a rough patch right now" (UPI). Even while the economy was crumbling all around him, presidential candidate John McCain insisted on September 15, 2008, "the fundamentals of our economy are...

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On Education, the Obama Administration Veers Off Course

Posted May 11, 2009 | 18:58:02 (EST)

How can the Obama administration get it right in education when its data are all wrong and its assumptions about its faulty data are flawed?

President Obama told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, "8th graders have fallen to 9th place." That statistic comes from the 2008 round of the Trends...

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Keeping an Eye on the Unregulated Testing Industry

Posted March 13, 2009 | 14:22:35 (EST)

About 30 years ago, Boston College professor, George Madaus, called for an "FDA for testing." The point was--and, sadly, is--that school testing was a huge industry totally unregulated. Since Madaus' proposal, the testing industry has exploded in size. And there is still no regulation, no oversight. "Tests are regulated less...

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On Education, Obama Blows It, Part II

Posted March 10, 2009 | 18:27:49 (EST)

OK, there were some good things in the talk to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. I especially liked an expansion of early childhood education having worked in the field and recently surveyed a meta-analysis of how well it works. It works, but overall it produces nowhere near the $10...

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Duncan and Obama: Airballs

Posted March 5, 2009 | 01:38:40 (EST)

They might have great jump shots, but on education they're both tossing air balls. While both have visited charter schools, neither has entered a regular public school. Their oratory has been uninspiring and sometimes downright scary.

At the New York City charter school that Duncan visited, he said,...

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On Education, Obama Blows It

Posted February 25, 2009 | 00:29:22 (EST)

I have not the expertise to address the merits of President Obama's speech to Congress on the issues of the economy. I do claim some expertise on education. He blew it.

He accepted the same garbage that the propagandists, fear mongers such as Lou Gerstner, Bill Gates, Roy Romer, Bob...

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Beating the Russians into Space: We Could Have

Posted February 24, 2009 | 16:25:49 (EST)

The schools were blamed for letting the Russians orbit the first man-made satellite. Declassified memos, though, indicate that the U. S. could have had an orbiting satellite over a year before Sputnik circled the earth:

During an October 8, 1957 meeting with governors and generals, President Dwight Eisenhower...

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Extra! Extra! Schools Not Cause of Current Economic Crisis!

Posted February 18, 2009 | 19:01:51 (EST)

The February 7 Wall Street Journal quoted secretary of education, Arne Duncan, saying, "Educationally, we used to lead the world, and we have sort of lost our way in the last couple of decades. We just have to educate ourselves to a better economy."

Supposedly, Mr. Duncan came to Washington...

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The Hatchet Job On Linda Darling-Hammond

Posted January 4, 2009 | 14:20:13 (EST)

When Senator Clinton was still a candidate for president, both she and Senator Obama sought counsel from an educator friend of mine. He told them both not to say anything about education. No matter what you say, he told me that he told them, you're going to make a lot...

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International Comparisons: More Fizzle than Fizz

Posted December 9, 2008 | 16:12:30 (EST)

Principle 23 of the "principles of data interpretation" that organize "Reading Educational Research: How to Avoid Getting Statistically Snookered," reads "If the situation really is as alleged ask, 'So what?'" The question does not call for some smart-ass response, it calls for an evaluation of the consequences of...

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