For the past few years this space was Jerry's. We thank HuffPost for allowing us to end his stay here with a tribute.
When news started circulating that Gerald Bracey had passed away early Oct. 20 at his home in Port Townsend, WA, an outpouring of grief filled the education world -- a world that he touched so meaningfully for four decades.
He was brilliant, blunt, independent, irascible, and uncompromising. He was dedicated to truth and integrity. He was an iconoclast.
In the Washington Post, Jay Mathews called Jerry "one of the most erudite, prolific and acidic critics of national education policy."
Greg Toppo of USA Today described Jerry as an "indefatigable contrarian" and a "pugnacious, sometimes abrasive critic of D.C. education policymakers, lawmakers and the press, decrying what he saw as their historical ignorance, intellectual laziness and chronic lack of skepticism about the latest education reform."
Jerry Bracey was indeed irascible, but overshadowing that irascibility was an integrity and brilliance without parallel. His contributions to those of us who worked with him 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.
We can all still benefit from Jerry's dedication, wisdom and knowledge, since his work lives on through his books and many articles and postings, here at the Huffington Post as well as on the joint website of the university policy centers at which he was a longtime fellow -- the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University. Additional pieces were published by Substance, which is planning to devote a section of its November print issue to Jerry.
Jerry also created an website and interactive e-mail forum (called the "Education Disinformation Detection and Reporting Agency") that included his fellow researchers, newspaper reporters, public school teachers, parents, and students. The website contains even more of his writings.
The sorts of emailed tributes we received also speak to his reach:
I never met Jerry, but he and I exchanged a few e-mails now and
again, once even a phone call. But I felt his presence nearly every day of my life. As regular as rain, Jerry's commentary and analysis filled my inbox. He always kept his sense of humor yet never failed to show his outage and his passion.
I had imagined and hoped he was immortal.
What a huge loss! Jerry was such an important voice for public education, a valued colleague, and dear friend. Without him, we must all work harder and speak louder!
What very sad news. Jerry was a brilliant curmudgeon; he bothered some, goaded others and was always a LION for public education. He will be missed.
When Jerry passed away, we were contacted by many of the people who have been touched by Jerry and his work and were asked to create a memorial fund or project that others could donate to in his memory. We have now created one, attached to the EPIC/EPRU policy centers that had 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. 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 will still use the money for student support in Jerry's name. For those who would like to contribute, please go here.
None of us want to imagine the education landscape without Jerry. He was the fellow we could trust to explain hard data, the one we could depend on not to capitulate.
Fearless in the face of power, Jerry told the truth and wasn't afraid to make enemies.
Rest in Peace, Jerry. You leave a void in our hearts and in our struggle for justice for the children.
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