School reformerSaul Bruckner

After college, Bruckner became a high school teacher, and then assistant principal at two high schools in Brooklyn, N.Y. He apparently disagreed with the way schools were run: in 1974 he founded his own school, Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn. Named for the pioneering TV newsman, Murrow was a school “based on faith and trust,” Bruckner once said. “Most of the kids here can be trusted.” Thus, students could select classes based on their interests, and try advanced placement classes if they wished. There were no bells to mark class times, and students could spend their free periods as they wished. When the city cut budgets, Bruckner refused to cut art and music classes. “Saul Bruckner was truly a legendary principal,” said Diane Ravitch of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. “A principal who worked his way into his job through a long apprenticeship and remained to train a generation of teachers and students. He was a master teacher and a master principal.” The result: the U.S. Department of Education consistently ranked Murrow as one of the best high schools in the country, and named it a “School of Excellence” in 1989. Bruckner retired from Murrow in 2004, and died May 1 while swimming at home, probably from a heart attack, his wife said. He was 76.

From This is True for 2 May 2010