About Ernest L. Boyer
Ernest L. Boyer, Sr.
A Leader of Educators, An Educator of Leaders
1928 - 1995
As a result of The Carnegie Foundation research on the elementary years, Boyer decided to translate his thoughts about primary education into action and stimulate real change in schools by founding The Basic School Network, a pilot program comprising sixteen public and private elementary schools, organized in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and with funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffrnan Foundation. The Network, initiated in 1994 with a three-year commitment by the Foundation, has worked with school personnel on all of the components of the Basic School, including new ways to create a curriculum, stress language (which he always saw as including the "languages" of the arts and mathematics), rethink the use of technology, emphasize character building, and involve parents in their schools.
In commenting about the sweep of his work, Samuel G. Sava, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and partner in the Basic School Network, said that Ernest Boyer "was the foremost educator of our time."
In the preface to The Basic School, Boyer wrote: "As I think about this long journey, I am greatly encouraged by the vitality of the elementary school, by the dedication of principals and teachers, and most especially by their willingness to change. It seems clear to me that the elementary school is the most flexible level of formal learning, a place where the focus is on children, not on "the system" or promoting one's career. It was a first-grade teacher in Dayton, Ohio, who sparked my own love affair with language, and it is my deepest hope that The Basic School will be of help to the dedicated elementary principals and teachers who each day serve so selflessly our nation's children."
UNDER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, Secretary of State George P. Schultz appointed Boyer chair of the U. S. Department of State's Overseas Schools Advisory Council. Boyer then extended his work from Kuala Lumpur to Athens, from London to the Far East, and also to Australia, Europe, and West Africa. In October 1996, the Association of American Schools of Central America, Columbia-Caribbean, and Mexico, on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, presented The Paul G. Orr Award to The Carnegie Foundation for Dr. Ernest L. Boyer's "distinguished educational leadership for American schools around the world."
The citation read: "Service was Dr. Boyer's creed as he tirelessly crisscrossed the nation and the world on behalf of improving education for all. He saw learning in its largest context, not simply to train students for the job market, but for preparing coming generations for civic responsibility to ensure that democracy is well-served. In our generation, indeed in this century, few, if any, educators have stood taller than Dr. Ernest L. Boyer. We reflect on his stunning legacy to the nation and the world."