About Ernest L. Boyer
Ernest L. Boyer, Sr.
A Leader of Educators, An Educator of Leaders
1928 - 1995
Dr. Boyer found it a national disgrace that nearly one quarter of the nation's children, surrounded by billions of dollars in investments, still grow up in poverty, and warned that the nation would reap what it sows if it does not respond to the Ready to Learn agenda.
"If Ernie had his way," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, "every child would have a good breakfast and a warm hand to hold on their way to school in the morning."
The Carnegie Foundation study led directly to Senator Kennedy's own "Ready to Learn" legislation seeking to reach this first national education goal. It also sparked new television programming with the Learning Channel's "Ready, Set, Learn" and the Ready to Learn Act of 1994 (Public Law 102-545), landmark legislation that provided new television programming for the preschool age set. And this year, as a result of the report and the subsequent initiatives by public television to implement Ready to Learn television programming, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in conjunction with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, sponsored the first of a series of Ernest L. Boyer Technology Summits for Educators around the country.
"More than anyone of his time," said Senator Kennedy, "he taught us that it is children, not just the schools, that should be the focus of our concern; that education is a community-wide effort which begins with the birth of a child; that supporting education is, more than any other challenge, not an expenditure but an investment; and that failure to act now will surely later mean higher costs, wasted lives, promises unfulfilled."
FOUR YEARS AFTER THE PUBLICATION of Ready to Learn, Ernest Boyer released another call to the nation to focus attention on the early years. The Basic School: A Community for Learning, published by The Carnegie Foundation in 1995, set forth another bold plan, this time to reinvigorate learning in the first years of formal schooling. It called for treating the school as a community with a shared vision, teachers as leaders, and parents as partners; a curriculum with coherence that incorporated eight "core commonalities," and new means for measuring progress; a climate for learning with varied patterns of grouping children, resources to enrich learning, and essential services for children and their families. Finally, he called for a renewal of a commitment to character, one that teaches core virtues and living with purpose.
In this report, as in others, he championed the arts, here arguing that the arts were frequently the first language of a child. In fact, so impassioned were his pleas over the years for a greater emphasis on the arts in schools, he was regarded by those in arts circles-from Jacques D'Amboise to Beverly Sills to Jane Alexander at the National Endowment for the Arts-as the most powerful voice on the arts in education.