A. Graham Down

    Author Bio:
    A. Graham Down, a graduate of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, was formerly Acting Director of the College Board's Advanced Placement Program and was Executive Director and President of the Council for Basic Education, (1974-1994). He is also an accomplished keyboard artist, specializing in the organ, piano and harpsichord.


Blog Posts/Multimedia

Jacques Barzun—A Personal Remembrance

Jacques Barzun, who died last week at age 104, was one of the founders of the Council for Basic Education.


Vocational Education for a Post-Industrial Society

A review of Schooling in the Workplace


The Unintended Consequences of Exaggerated Expectations

A review of Someone Has to Fail, by David Labaree


Schools vs. Noise

Republic of Noise is a truly brilliant book, but one so remote from the daily activities associated with the life of a conventional classroom teacher as to make one question its relevance to school improvement.


When Will Curriculum Supplant Textbooks?

The power of Beverlee Jobrack’s new book, Tyranny of the Textbook, is the author’s ability to connect the textbook issue to every facet of student learning.


Catholic High Schools: Now and Forever

This new book’s momentum is conveyed by the earnestness of the author and the sense that as long as urban public schools continue to be mediocre, there will always be a place for the Catholic high school where administrative costs (and therefore, fees) are relatively modest.


A Comprehensive Look at the Dropout Crisis

Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It By Russell Rumberger (Harvard University Press, 400 pp., $35) “Russ Rumberger has written the definitive book on school dropouts”, says my distinguished colleague and friend, Jack Jennings.  In fact, I would go further: it is not only definitive, but […]


Latino Students and School Reform

Achieving Equity for Latino Students: Expanding the Pathway to Higher Education through Public Policy by Frances Contreras (Teachers College Press, 208 pp., $29.95) I have never pretended to be an expert on access problems as they relate to the Latino community.  However, the rigor of the research and the comprehensiveness of the approach of Frances […]


Parental Guidance Suggested

The Good Student is an excellent compilation of what we currently know about best practices, one that is jargon-free and aimed specifically at parents.


Do Students Need Depth More Than Breadth?

Kieran Egan takes us through every conceivable objection to his proposal and refutes each objection in turn. But I am less convinced than he that concentration on a single topic is equally suitable for 1st as for 12th graders (and all grades in between).


The Past, Present, and Future of Common Standards

A new book explains in depth the content of the standards, what they expect of students, and how the assessment of student results is going to be carried out.


On Changing One’s Mind about School Reform

“I Used to Think…And Now I Think” is an interesting compendium of twenty education notables’ views on school reform, responding to a prompt devised by Richard Elmore of the Harvard Graduate School of Education


Teaching in All Its Complexity

Teaching and its Predicaments is a very thoughtful book, written by one of the most serious and accomplished authors of our time.


An Inside Look at the Challenges Facing Charter Schools

The brand new book The Strategic Management of Charter Schools is an insightful analysis of what is really involved in developing and sustaining charter schools.


The State of the Teaching Profession

The American Public School Teacher is a comprehensive report on the state of the teaching profession in the United States based on a 5-year study by the National Education Association.


Teaching Truth and Beauty

A review of Truth, Beauty and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Twenty-First Century, by Howard Gardner


Wasting Time and Money

I have to agree with Ronald Wolk whose new book, Wasting Minds, has recently come across my desk for review. As he says in his introduction, there is little or no evidence to suggest that the last quarter of a century of school reform has resulted in significant change or improvement.


Why Customize Schooling

Even a casual glance at the book Customized Schooling suggests the importance of this effort to transform the nation’s approach to how education might be delivered.


Rising Above It All in the Bronx

For those who have given up on urban school reform, As Bad As They Say? Three Decades of Teaching in the Bronx is, at first blush, a genuine antidote.


Making Teaching a Better Job

A review of The Influence of Teachers, by John Merrow


School Turnarounds In All Their Complexity

Inside School Turnarounds by Laura Pappano is a no-nonsense book delineating, sometimes in excruciating detail, the circumstances that surround genuine and courageous attempts at urban school reform.


Great Schools On Purpose

Samuel Casey Carter’s new book is a litany of the positive. Here are schools that the author finds exemplary, a welcome change from the litany of travail so frequently mirrored in books on school reform.


Why Schools of One Are Our Future

Too Simple to Fail, a new book from Oxford University Press, is a review of thirty years of research into how children learn. The author, R. Barker Bausell, a biostatistician in the School of Nursing at the University of Maryland, has come to the conclusion that classroom instruction is hopelessly obsolete, and that the answer to the deficiencies of our educational system is the tutorial model.


A Valiant Effort to Teach History to the Middle School Crowd

Welcome to the world of the journalist turned newly minted middle school history teacher!


Book Alert: Wendy Kopp’s A Chance to Make History

I can’t begin to tell the world how pleased I am to have the opportunity to review Wendy Kopp’s new book, A Chance to Make History. After all, I was one of the people Richard Mund, then Executive Director of the Mobil Foundation, turned to to inquire whether he should provide Teach for America with its initial grant some 20 years ago.

Sponsored Results

The Hoover Institution at Stanford University - Ideas Defining a Free Society

Harvard Kennedy School Program on Educational Policy and Governance

Thomas Fordham Institute - Advancing Educational Excellence and Education Reform