Theodore R. Sizer, one of the country’s most prominent and influential education-reform advocates, died on Oct. 21 at his home in Harvard, Mass., of colon cancer, reports the New York Times. He was 77. A former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Sizer was later the headmaster of Phillips Academy, the preparatory school in Andover, Mass., and chairman of the education department at Brown University. He also was the founder and first director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown. Sizer was best known as the father of the Essential Schools movement, which he founded in 1984. The movement’s umbrella organization, the Coalition of Essential Schools, spans an array of public and private schools united by their adherence to common principles. Among these are that a school is an egalitarian community and that the student is a valued worker in that community, with the teacher in the role of mentor or coach. Depth of knowledge is emphasized over breadth, with the mastery of a few core subjects preferred to a smattering of electives. Begun with 12 schools, the coalition now encompasses several hundred across the country, and a handful overseas…

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