News Release

Brookings Announces Appointment of Diane Ravitch as Brown Chair in Education

February 28, 1997

Diane Ravitch, a distinguished educator, historian, and public servant, has been named as the first recipient of the Herman and George R. Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Announcement of the appointment was made at the annual winter meeting of the Brookings Board of Trustees on February 19.

Ravitch is a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings and senior research fellow at New York University. As part of her role with the Brookings Brown Center for Education Research, Ravitch will edit a new policy journal entitled the Brookings Papers on Education Policy, to be published annually.

“We are honored and delighted to augment our longstanding relationship with Diane Ravitch by naming her to this chair,” said Brookings President Michael H. Armacost. “Her wide-ranging experience as public servant and respected scholar, plus her hands-on knowledge of the major issues in American education, will add an important dimension to our research activities.”

Ravitch first joined the Brookings staff in 1993 as a visiting fellow after her term as Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement and Counselor to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. She is author of two recent Brookings volumes, National Standards in American Education: A Citizen’s Guide, and Debating the Future of American Education, both published in 1995.

She is a former adjunct professor of history and education at Columbia University and the author of numerous other books on American education, including What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know?, written with Chester E. Finn Jr.; The Schools We Deserve; The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945-1980; The Revisionists Revised; and The Great School Wars: New York City, 1805-1973.

She was a principal writer of the California K-12 history-social science curriculum. For her work on history curriculum in California, she was made an honorary citizen of California by the Rules Committee of the State Senate. She also created two anthologies, The American Reader and The Democracy Reader, that are widely used in American history classrooms.

In 1989, she became an adviser to Teachers Solidarity and the Ministry of Education in Poland. She has lectured in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, the former Soviet Union, Japan, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Germany, Nicaragua, and throughout the United States. She was chair of the Educational Excellence Network in Washington, D.C., chair of the American Federation of Teachers’ Education for Democracy Project, and co-chair of the National Academy of Education’s Task Force on the Future of Educational Research Priorities. She was a director of Encyclopedia Britannica from 1985-1991 and 1993-96, and is a regular columnists for Forbes magazine.

Ravitch is a member of PEN International, an honorary life trustee of the New York Public Library, and a former Guggenheim Fellow, and also is a member of the board of the New York Historical Society and the New York Council for the Humanities. She was elected to membership in the National Academy of Education (1979), the Society of American Historians (1984), and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1985). She was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar in 1984-85, the first person to be chosen from the field of educational studies. She was awarded the Henry Allen Moe prize in the humanities by the American Philosophical Society in 1986, and a medal of distinction from the Polish government in 1991. She was honored as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library.

She received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Williams College in 1984, Reed College in 1985, Amherst College in 1986, the State University of New York in 1988, and Ramapo College in 1990, and St. Joseph’s College of New York in 1991. She received the Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award for 1989.

The Brown Chair was endowed in 1992 by the Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Texas. It is named in honor of late brothers Herman Brown and George R. Brown, who held extensive interests in construction, shipbuilding, and oil, and were partners in Brown and Root, Inc., a construction company founded in 1914 that grew into one of the largest engineering and construction companies in the world.

The Brown Foundation was established in 1951 and has made numerous grants to a variety of causes, primarily in education and the arts.

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.