A Statement on the Death of Theodore Sizer

By Vartan Gregorian
President, Carnegie Corporation of New York

October 2009 - Ted Sizer was one of the most dedicated, passionate and inspiring educators I've had the honor of knowing and working with. But to me, he was even more than a valued colleague: he was a good friend--a wonderful man with a great sense of humor. And he loved his students. All across the nation, his students are mourning him now. 

Ted was one of the first prominent educators to advocate for educational reform. To Ted, fighting for excellent education for all students across every level of American society was an act of war against mediocre and inadequate schooling in our nation. In that connection, he was committed to the belief that all of us concerned about America's future must dedicate ourselves to advancing the kind of innovative education reforms that will ensure today's students are equipped to succeed in our increasingly competitive and knowledge-based global economy. 

Ted fervently believed that not only was education the key conduit of opportunity for all American citizens but that it was also the foundation of our democratic society. Yet for education to deliver on its promise, Ted understood that it was teachers who were truly capable of making a lasting difference. A good teacher has a greater impact on pupil achievement than any other school-based factor, and was capable of inspiring not just a single classroom, but an entire generation of young people.

During my presidency of Brown University, Ted was leading the Coalition of Essential Schools headquartered at Brown. When Ambassador Walter Annenberg asked me to work with him on the Annenberg Challenge, a $500 million gift from the Annenberg Foundation to inaugurate school reform efforts based on the ideas of the nation's best educational scholars and thinkers across the spectrum of American education, I turned to Ted for advice and guidance. Consulting with Ted was something I always did. His involvement with the Annenberg Challenge helped to shape the effort and contributed to its focus on personalizing the educational experience for all students. In fact, it was to highlight the importance of educational reform that I appointed Ted as the founding director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

Ted Sizer was a giant among educators, an invaluable colleague, an extraordinary teacher and an unforgettable friend. All of those who knew him will miss him for a long time to come.