The National Academy of Education is saddened by the loss of several members in the past year.

Please take a moment to read the tributes written by NAEd members and close friends.

Charles Bidwell, University of Chicago

Elected to Membership: 1979

bidwell-charlesRemembering Charles E. Bidwell, 1932–2016

The following in memoriam is from the Division of Social Sciences, University of Chicago:

Charles E. Bidwell LAB’46, AB ’50, AM ’53, PhD ’56, William Claude Reavis Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology, died November 6 at age 84. He was a lifelong Hyde Parker, born here in 1932, attending Lab School, and receiving his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago.

Throughout his distinguished career as a sociologist of education, Bidwell studied the organization of education and instructional processes, making important contributions to the field. In 1965 he published a chapter in the Handbook of Organizations entitled “The School as a Formal Organization,” which became the impetus for a career-long study of the social dynamics of schools and its effect on academic productivity. He served as editor of Sociology of Education from 1969 to 1972, the American Journal of Sociology from 1973 to 1978, and the American Journal of Education from 1983 to 1987. A longtime member of the National Academy of Education, he eventually chaired a section and became secretary of the organization.

Bidwell’s impact upon the Division of the Social Sciences is profound—he held appointments in two departments and served as chair for each. His vision and his taste in hiring shaped the trajectory of the Department of Education and Department of Sociology. He was also a deeply engaged teacher, chairing 39 dissertations and serving on 30 committees in the Department of Sociology alone. Evidence of his lasting impact on students is summarized in a nomination letter for the 2012 Norman Maclean Award written by Kenneth Frank PhD ’93 (Education):

“As I look back on my own career I have growing appreciation for what Charles did for me. He demonstrated a disposition that was at once professional as well as indicative of an outright love and belief in what he was doing. His approach urges the student to constantly engage, and rethink, just for the sake of getting it absolutely right. This spirit means that work will be novel, but also endure.

Across the entirety of his long career here Charles Bidwell embraced the intellectual culture of the University. As he put it in a 2009 interview, “We all hold very high standards for each other…. It is hard to put your ideas out there to such a tough audience. But it was worth it. I have received the most extraordinarily supportive criticism of my work and ideas…. This critical, intense intellectualism has been absolutely continuous, and I think it’s marvelous. This is the culture of the place and it is one of the reasons why I stayed here all these years, that and the quality of the students.”

End quoted text

John Brademas, New York University

Elected to Membership: 1984

brademas-johnJohn Brademas: A Politician and an Intellectual

In the late 1950s, the country was starting to stir politically. President Eisenhower’s view that problems were best settled locally and not in Washington was giving way to a political activism that focused on the issues of poverty, hunger, and civil rights.

In the elections of 1958, a group of young, liberal politicians won congressional seats and stormed to Washington. Prominent among them was John Brademas from northern Indiana.

The new congressman represented an area of factories, farms, and institutions of higher education—most notably Notre Dame. He was unusual for a politician in having been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford where he earned a doctorate.

Brademas liked to say that he was representative of America because his father was a Greek immigrant who ran a restaurant and his mother was a Methodist who taught elementary school.

After arriving in Congress, Brademas immediately gained membership on the Education and Labor Committee of the House. That was a fortuitous choice since much of the major social legislation of the 1960s went through that committee.

Brademas soon became a leader who wrote legislation improving the education of children with disabilities, supporting the arts and humanities, and upgrading education research as a federal activity. He also had an influence on Head Start, the Elementary and Secondary Act, the Higher Education Act, and numerous other social laws.

In 1967, I met Brademas and was immediately impressed by him. Very energetic and hard-working, he was also just darn smart. He got to the point in debates, and knew his stuff. I was especially impressed that he wrote notes at every meeting and hearing to record the momentous events of those times.

Attaining a high leadership post among the House Democrats, he was on the path to becoming Speaker. But, then, in 1980 he got caught in a Republican political tide and was defeated. Not losing a beat, he became the President of New York University, chair of the Federal Reserve in New York, and member of the State Board of Regents and many other boards.

John Brademas had an inquiring mind and was an activist intellectual. He spoke Spanish and his doctoral thesis was on political movements in Spain. He appreciated the arts and good writing. But, he also wanted to improve society by enacting laws that would improve life in the U.S. Therefore, he entered the messy business of politics. After that career ended, he entered the equally demanding business of running a major institution of higher education.

During Brademas’ 22-year career in Congress, he was a key member of a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans determined to examine and tackle the major problems facing American society. Legislators like him seem to be in short supply today. He will be missed.

Submitted by Jack Jennings, who from 1967 to 1994 served as a counsel/staff director on the Education and Labor Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Jerome Bruner, New York University

Elected to Membership: 1965*

*Founding Member

bruner-jeromeIn Remembrance of Jerry Bruner
Howard Gardner
Remarks on September 9, 2016

In the late spring of 1965, as I was about to graduate from college, following a tip from a mutual acquaintance, I met Jerry Bruner, and shortly thereafter he offered me a summer job.

Little did I know that this job—lasting less than two months—would change forever both my personal and my professional life. The explicit job was to join something called IRG—the Instructional Research Group—to evaluate a new social science curriculum that was being developed and tested that summer for middle school. It was called “Man: A Course of Study,” or MACOS for short.

And indeed, nearly every day, a small group of us would evaluate sample lessons, how they worked, where they fell short, and how they might be revised and improved. Our efforts, along with those of a dozen other workers that summer and thereafter, eventually culminated in a brilliant curriculum. MACOS introduced kids 9 to 11 years old to gritty, nutritious ideas and practices from the range of social sciences—from the principles of Chomskian linguistics, to the evolutionary similarities between human beings and higher apes, to the sociology of how different cultures deal with their aging populations. And on a personal level, Jerry himself introduced me to another researcher, Judy Krieger, from UC Berkeley, whom I then married and who is the mother of three of my children.

While working on the curriculum, I was exposed not only to these important ideas but also to many of the scholars who had developed them. As one who had never taken a standard psychology course, I was introduced to cognitive and developmental psychology and made a career choice change—a TOTAL change—to pursue that area of scholarship.

If that was not enough, I also learned how to motivate and inspire a multi-disciplinary team of students, scholars, teachers, and administrators. Jerry brought us together throughout the day. He asked questions, pointed in new directions, improvised, joked, listened, said “Ah,” and smiled. In a brilliant move, he converted the basement of the Underwood School in Newton into a delicatessen, and each day, teenagers Sandy Whipple and Zanny Kaysen brought in delicious sandwich spreads and salads. And then, in the evening, he and his wife Blanche opened up their spacious home on Follen Street, and people of disparate ages, expertise, and status mixed freely. There I could actually talk to individuals who were legendary—economist Carl Kaysen, primatologist Irv DeVore, anthropologist E.Z. Vogt, filmmaker Bob Gardner, gamesman Clark Abt, child psychologist Margaret Donaldsen, Gestalt psychologist Mary Henle, and many more…

MACOS explored three guiding questions: What makes human beings human? How did they get to be that way? How can they be made more so? Only in recent years have I realized that much of my own research career has been devoted to answering these questions—and I hope that the way that I approached them also bears some traces of Jerry’s way of thinking.

A quarter of a century later, I went to an interdisciplinary educational conference in Paris. This was a big deal for me. I found myself sitting around a dinner table with a dozen people, from several countries, none of whom I had previously known. We began to speak about what had drawn us—scholars of different disciplines from different countries—to the study of education. I was amazed to learn that half of the individuals at the table spoke about how their reading of The Process of Education, Jerry’s path-breaking book of 1960, had been a prime motivator.

And I began to realize that was Jerry’s greatest gift to me and to so many others—he had a transformative effect on us. It’s a funny thing about transformations—the most profound ones are so enormous that it takes time to realize that a transformation has occurred. As for me, I am a slow learner. It literally took me a quarter of a century to realize Jerry’s enormous transformative effects on me—in WHAT I studied, HOW I approached it, and equally, HOW I interacted with colleagues, students, and research assistants, both those I knew well and those I had just met. Fortunately, because of Jerry’s long life, I had PLENTY OF TIME—another quarter century—to thank him for what he had given to me.

Most of us here had the privilege of knowing Jerry in person, from one venue or another. He lived a long time and visited many places all over the world. But even those who only knew him at a distance—from his brilliant writings, his exciting public presentations, and, more recently, his presentations on various media, including several interviews now available on line—all of us have been influenced, sometimes in TRANSFORMATIVE life-changing ways, by his powerful ideas and the compelling ways in which he presented them.

And that’s the reason that we know that , even though Jerry is no longer here with us on the planet, he has joined that small galaxy of individuals who have transformed the landscape of many minds—a landscape that he so loved.

Henry Thomas James, Stanford University & Spencer Foundation

Elected to Membership: 1967

henry-thomas-jamesHenry Thomas James

Henry Thomas James, founding president of the Spencer Foundation and former Dean of the School of Education at Stanford University, died on September 30, 2016 at the age of 101. He is survived by his six children, 15 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren. (One of Tom’s children is Tom James, Provost and Dean at Teachers College, Columbia University.)

Lyle Spencer, who founded the Spencer Foundation, had a strong vision for the Foundation he created, reflecting his own commitment to education improvement and to inquiry, but it was Tom James who gave concrete focus to that vision. During Tom’s fifteen years as President, he did much to establish the Foundation’s reputation for rigor, independence, and open-mindedness in the support of scholarship. He also began early to make investments in the development of future generations of researchers through fellowship programs — a tradition that of course continues today through Spencer’s partnership with the National Academy of Education on dissertation and post-doctoral fellowships.

Tom James was born in Wisconsin, and served as Captain of a U. S. Navy ship in World War II. The war ended as James was leading a troop ship preparing to invade Japan. After the war, Tom became a teacher and later a principal and superintendent of schools in Wisconsin. While serving on the staff of the Wisconsin State Board of Education he decided to begin work on his PhD, which he earned at the University of Chicago. In 1958, he began work in Stanford’s School of Education, and became Dean in 1966.

In a notice of Tom James’ death in the Stanford News, Martin Carnoy, a member of the faculty of the Stanford Graduate School of Education, who was hired by James in 1969, observed, “He transformed the school very quickly. He created new positions in economics, organizational studies, philosophy and political science. James led Stanford to become one of the first education schools in the country to hire faculty in the social sciences; to do that was really innovative. … It was quite amazing—he recognized that education was moving in a new direction.”

It was following his service as Dean at Stanford that Tom became the first full-time President of the Spencer Foundation in 1970.

As the National Academy of Education recalls Tom James, it is worth noting that in 1987, shortly after Tom James stepped down from his leadership role at Spencer, he responded to a request by the US Department of Education to join Lamar Alexander, then completing his service as Governor of Tennessee, to prepare a report with recommendations about the National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes referred to as the nation’s report card. At that time, the Department asked the National Academy of Education to prepare an assessment of the report. The report, after editing in response to the Academy’s advice, of course proved highly influential, and it is of interest to know that the edited report authored by Alexander and James appears first in the alphabetical list of the Academy’s publications.

Michael S. McPherson
The Spencer Foundation

Robert Linn, University of Colorado Boulder

Elected to Membership: 1990

Note from the President:
When Bob Linn died the earthly world lost a special man. He was a dear friend, mentor, adviser, teacher—to me and so many others. I used to kid Bob that when I worked on assessment problems I wanted him nearby; and he was always there, if not physically then just a call or email away. No problem was too obvious for him—or at least he never let on that my questions were, shall we say, “elementary.” And my questions weren’t only about little things like the difference between validity and reliability; sometimes they veered into really big things, like the time I asked him just how likely was it that the bear outside his window down in Ouray would have me for a quick snack. For all those years of being by my side, for his incalculable contributions to the improvement of education, for his boundless humility and generosity, I am thankful. And to Bob’s beloved Joyce, I’ll try to heed your advice and honor Bob not with more tears (I’ve shed ‘em plenty) but with the blessings of his memory.
—Michael Feuer

linn-robertRobert L. Linn
by Lorrie Shepard and Eva Baker

Robert L. Linn was a true giant in the field of educational measurement. “In the 90-year history of the field there has been no comparable eminence save E. F. Lindquist and R. W. Tyler.” They started innovative measurement activities, “but their scholarly, academic production was skimpy compared with Linn’s.” This assessment was written in 1995 by Lee J. Cronbach, himself the only other contender to be named in such esteemed company.

Bob Linn’s contributions to measurement, psychometrics, and assessment-related policy were both
broad and deep, always innovative and insightful, and of the highest quality. In talking about Bob’s
work we use his first name because in addition to being a research luminary, he was a remarkable, soft-spoken, down-to-earth citizen who rolled up his sleeves and worked side-by-side with so many educators and scholars that countless individuals considered him to be their friend, mentor, and role model.

Throughout his career, Bob made significant contributions to validity theory and conducted innumerable empirical investigations evaluating specific testing applications such as the use of standardized tests in national Title I evaluations, instructional validity of minimum-competency tests, licensure examinations, college admissions tests, computer-adaptive tests, performance assessments, and state accountability systems. Importantly, these studies were typically non-routine and never merely technical; rather they were far-reaching both in the conceptualization of the significant issues to be addressed and in the scale of data collection efforts. For example, in 1990, to investigate the claim that nearly all states were reporting achievement scores above the national average, Bob led an effort to collect and reanalyze data from 50 states and then to disentangle possible explanations such as outdated norms or test familiarity.

Bob’s work was always marked by his ability to bring deep statistical and psychometric knowledge to bear in addressing pressing practical problems. His extensive work on test bias is one example; his work on test equating is another. He was also a polite but pointed critic of test misuse. In his presidential address to the American Educational Research Association in 2003, soon after the passage of No Child Left Behind, he argued that responsibility must be shared between policymakers and educators for accountability systems to be effective and that “what counts” needed to be more broadly defined than was possible with current tests. Famously, he warned that “targets plucked out of the air and dropped into the legislation” would “do more to demoralize educators than to inspire them.” He recommended instead that ambitious targets should be based on an “existence proof,” meaning that someone somewhere should have been able to reach that standard before it was imposed on everyone with draconian consequences.

Bob was both public scholar and public servant. He was always the first person sought by any National Research Council (NRC) committee on testing. He chaired the NRC’s Board on Testing and Assessment and led the National Academy of Education’s studies of State NAEP. He advised the Department of Defense on military personnel testing, the College Board, the Graduate Record Examination Board of Directors, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Law School Admissions Council; the list is almost endless. Bob was the Founding Co-Director of the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA, first in partnership with the University of Illinois and then with the University of Colorado Boulder, a role that he held for 25 years. More recently, even in failing health, he traveled to numerous states to help with technical issues faced by state assessment programs.

Bob was elected to membership in the National Academy of Education and received life-time achievement awards from each of the professional associations having to do with educational and psychological measurement: the E. L. Thorndike Award for Lifetime Achievement by the American Psychological Association, the E. F. Lindquist Award by the American Educational Research Association, the Career Achievement Award by the National Council on Measurement in Education, and the Educational Testing Service Award for Distinguished Service to Measurement.

Yet, through all of this, family always came first for Bob, whether talking passionately about sports with his sons, Mike and Steve, or his grandchildren, shooting baskets, taking group hikes that he loved, or joking around at family gatherings. His wife, Joyce, organized family hiking trips to the Canadian Rockies, Italy, and the wilderness back country of Alaska where they were flown in by bush pilots; Joyce traveled with Bob for a number of years to his many academic and policy meetings.

It is fitting to recognize that in the prickly and competitive world of academia, the many, many scholars who knew Bob remember him as a person: his kindness, integrity, sense of humor, and patience. When we asked Joyce how someone so accomplished could be so humble and so unaware of his fame, she wondered if it could have been his poor performance in high school. Bob loved math but got such bad grades in other subjects that he couldn’t get into the University of Colorado. He only later developed an appetite for reading while in the U.S. Army and then got straight A’s at the University of Wyoming, where he and Joyce met. Perhaps those experiences also help to explain Bob’s deep commitments to equity and his awareness of whose capabilities might be overlooked if judged only by test scores.

Robert L. Linn Memorial Lecture Award
To continue Bob Linn’s legacy, the Robert and Joyce Linn endowment has been established to fund the Robert L. Linn Memorial Lecture Award. Annually, an early or midcareer scholar will be selected who best exemplifies insightful and interdisciplinary contributions to educational measurement and policy. The award will be announced in the spring at the NCME and AERA annual meetings, and in the fall, the recipient will deliver a lecture to faculty, students, and invited policy and practice leaders at convenings held alternately at the University of Colorado Boulder and at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Contributions may be made at

David Tyack, Stanford University

Elected to Membership: 1979

tyack-davidStanford education historian David Tyack dies at 85
David Tyack was a preeminent scholar in the history of American education and school reform.

By Brooke Donald
David Tyack, professor emeritus of education and of history at Stanford, died Oct. 27 of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 85 and passed away peacefully at his home on the university campus, according to his family.

Tyack joined Stanford in 1969. He was a social historian of education, best known for his interpretations of the history of American education and history of school reform.

An influential researcher, Tyack, the Vida Jacks Professor of Education, Emeritus, wrote more than 10 books and numerous papers.

Colleagues, friends and former students described him as a scholar of great intellect and a man of enormous social conscience.

The One Best System, published in 1974, which analyzed the organizational biography of city schools, remains today the prevailing wisdom for this area of scholarship.

In a 2005 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Marvin Lazerson, then professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania, said The One Best System “set the scholarly standard for years to come, and introduced America’s educational history to a generation of readers and scholars.”

Lazerson called Tyack’s body of work “a model for scholars to follow, both charting new fields and elaborating on older themes.”

During his academic career, Tyack received multiple grants, fellowships and awards, and served as president of the History of Education Society from 1970 to 1971. He collaborated with a variety of colleagues studying everything from urban schools and school boards to the effects of the feminization of elementary school teaching.

“David was the ideal interdisciplinary scholar, thoroughly versed in his own discipline but always open to new ideas and methodologies,” said Professor Emerita Myra Strober, whose articles with Tyack included “Jobs and Gender: A History of the Structuring of Educational Employment by Sex” and “Why Women Teach While Men Manage.”

“He was also kind, upbeat, curious and committed to the exploration of common ground,” Strober said. “And at a time when few male faculty supported gender equity, David was at the forefront of the movement.”

With Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford Graduate School of Education, Tyack wrote Tinkering Toward Utopia, investigating how different kinds of participants in the politics of school reform defined both problems and solutions in different ways.

Paul Mattingly of the Journal of American History said Tinkering “belongs in a special genre of books about education by historians.” He said the book “demonstrates how historical perspectives can reconstruct a policy discourse.”

Tyack cared deeply about how the education system worked and of communities that were neglected by it. He approached his research as an opportunity to keep learning and revising, and once said that completing a book didn’t close a door on a subject, but rather opened new ones.

“David Tyack was one of the most influential historians who ever wrote about public schools in America,” said William J. Reese, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “David always asked the right questions: How can history illuminate our understanding of today’s pressing concerns? How can urban schools better serve a diverse nation? How can they help address deeply rooted inequalities?”

Tyack found, ironically, that his own scholarship got in the way of new discoveries. In a proposal to the Spencer Foundation for funding for a new book, he wrote, “In submitting essays for blind review by journals I have twice been advised to read David Tyack to discover the error of my own interpretation.”

Tyack encouraged others to forge their own path, as well.

“Everyone who works in the history of education also works in David Tyack’s shadow, of course,” said Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. “But David wanted me to move out of it. I’m not sure I ever succeeded, but his characteristically modest advice certainly helped me find my scholarly voice.”

Tyack said his intellectual odyssey was often triggered by experiences he had in public schools: teaching American history in a Portland, Oregon, high school or serving for a quarter as a first-grade co-teacher in Palo Alto, California, or talking with teachers and parents about desegregation and community control.

He was a dedicated mentor of junior scholars and showed genuine interest in the community of learning and in an exchange of ideas. He invited students and friends on hikes in the hills surrounding Stanford and just “chatted people up,” said David Labaree, also a Stanford professor of education.

“David cared so deeply about his friends and colleagues, his students, his community and the great American public school system – its teachers, students and mission, its quest for equity and joyful learning,” added Linda Darling-Hammond, professor emerita of education at Stanford.

Jack Schneider, an education historian who received his PhD from Stanford GSE in 2010, said Tyack “was the kind of person you wake up one day and realize has become family.” He said because of Tyack’s influence, he is a better teacher and scholar.

Tyack’s teaching was honored by Stanford in 1996 with the Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching. He was praised for “decades of the highest quality undergraduate and graduate teaching, leaving indelible impressions on the minds of generations of Stanford students, for his creative and dramatic ability to make the past ‘come alive,’ and for his innovative efforts to involve students with the subject matter, transforming history from monologue into a conversation.”

Tyack was “a rare kind of academic,” said Cuban, “one whose research, teaching and advising were wrapped up in smarts, humility and a sensitive thoughtfulness.” The pair biked and hiked in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as co-taught classes at Stanford.

Tyack, Cuban recalled, set a high standard in how he lived life, nurtured ideas and practiced his craft.

Tyack was born Nov. 17, 1930. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, then taught at Reed College, from 1959 to 1967, and the University of Illinois, from 1967 to 1969, before coming to Stanford.

He is survived by two sons, Daniel Tyack and Peter Tyack. He was preceded in death by his partner, the late Stanford political science lecturer Elisabeth Hansot.

Pin It on Pinterest