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avatar for John Spencer

John Spencer

Ursinus College
Associate Professor of Education
As a sophomore at Brown in 1984, I was fortunate enough to take an Education course with a newly arrived professor named Ted Sizer, who had just published *Horace's Compromise* and launched the Coalition of Essential Schools. Ted and CES quickly became my most important touchstones in education, and after graduating from Brown with social studies certification, I spent three years teaching at Mid-Peninsula High School, a Coalition school in Palo Alto, California. I went on to become an historian of education and run a teacher education program in a liberal arts college, where I work to pass on the kind of collaborative, intellectually challenging approaches to teaching and learning I first learned from Ted and CES. In 2012, I published *In the Crossfire: Marcus Foster and the Troubled History of American School Reform*, a biography of an African-American school leader and a history of school reform since the 1950s. While writing the book, it was exciting to interview Ted about events in the 1960s, during which time he was dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In the past few years, I've gone further down that road, digging into Ted's papers in the archives to research his own development and historical significance in education.