Please Welcome the Irrepressible, Irreplaceable A. Graham Down



By 02/07/2011

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You may have noticed this new name on the blog in recent days. If not, watch for it in the weeks ahead. We’re thrilled to announce that Graham Down has joined the Education Next family as a regular book reviewer. You can expect, several times each month, his take on recent volumes related to education policy and practice. (His inaugural submission lauded Wendy Kopp’s new call to arms.)

Graham is a battled-scarred, ribbon-bedecked veteran of education’s “war of ideas.” From 1974 to 1994 he served as executive director and president of the much-missed Council for Basic Education (CBE). In its day, that noble organization flew the standard of a broad liberal arts education for all. Even before current concerns about the “narrowing of the curriculum,” Down was out there traveling the country, making speeches, and releasing essays that argued for the inclusion of history, science, foreign languages, and the arts in the primary-secondary education of every young American.

I was lucky to meet Graham several years ago when a few of us teamed up to create a new organization, Common Core, to resume the crucial mission of the now-defunct CBE. Though a retired octogenarian with a passionate interest in the piano, organ, and harpsichord (not to mention enjoying the occasional moist lunch at his beloved Cosmos Club), he worked energetically to ensure that the “liberal education for all” mantle would be carried onward.

The other thing to know about Graham is that he is British (and Oxford- and Cambridge-educated). Hence, to savor the full Graham Down experience, I recommend reading his reviews with your best English accent.

-Mike Petrilli




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