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Volume 96, Issue 2

GRAPHIC:  Also in every issueLETTERS
Upon what meat have you fed that you can…

Lost department mourned

It was with great sadness that I read of the untimely death of Rebecca Barr, AM’61, PhD’68 (August/03). I had the privilege of working with Becky in the University of Chicago reading clinic. Becky was a worthy successor to Helen M. Robinson and Helen K. Smith, previous directors.

The University once had a world-renowned education department (and, at one point, a School of Education): John Dewey and the Lab Schools; William S. Gray and his successors in reading; adult education; elementary education; pre-school education; and Norman Burns in higher education (who headed the North Central Association’s commission on colleges and universities). Many of the outstanding educators at this and other universities and colleges received their major training at Chicago.

There are still some fine individuals at the U of C working on educational and related concerns, but the University appears to have chosen business over education. This is not to put down science and the humanities or the other outstanding social-science researchers and practitioners. But, in this time of need for an educated world beyond the ivy-covered walls, there are many of us who still feel that the elimination of the education department was a mistake.

Joan L. Staples
Chicago, Illinois

Provost Richard P. Saller comments: The Department of Education had a great tradition, and its closing represented a loss to the University, but readers should also know that the University plans to be a source of innovation again in the field of education. The Center for School Improvement (CSI) is working closely with the Chicago Public School system to integrate educational research with teacher education and classroom practices in a concerted effort to improve schools on the mid–South Side of Chicago. The North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School, run by the University, is a true laboratory school for urban education, implementing curriculum and best practices developed by CSI. A blue-ribbon external review found the charter school to be one of the most exciting experiments in urban education in the country, a finding corroborated by recent test scores. The charter school will serve as one of the bases for a new urban-teacher preparation program in the College, begun this academic year. If these programs are successful, the University stands to make a big impact directly on the public schools of Chicago and indirectly as a new model for the country. Education has not lost its centrality in the University’s mission.

The University of Chicago Magazine welcomes letters on its contents or on topics related to the University. Letters must be signed and may be edited for space and clarity. We ask readers to keep correspondence to 300 words or less. Write:

Editor, University of Chicago Magazine,
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Chicago, IL 60637



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