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Dec 18, 2017 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

Each year since 2005, we nominate people who have made an outstanding contribution to the field of education. These are individuals who have consistently worked hard to educate students and assist the learning of others. There are a few individuals that deserve recognition as well as a few organizations. This is the first year in which we have recognized singular organizations and readers are encouraged to let us know next year if there are any groups or organizations that deserve recognition.

Our first winner is Carol J. Carter. Here is some information about her:

1) Carol J. Carter was the first female assistant Vice President at Prentice Hall at the age of 26, and by 30, the first female internal Vice President when the company was bought by Pearson. On the side, she wrote a book called Majoring in the Rest of Your Life: Career Secrets for College Students, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

A year later, she co-authored the KEYS TO SUCCESS series, a handbook for college freshmen on what the world of work requires and expects of our grads. In 2001, she left corporate America after seventeen years and bootstrapped her own company, LifeBound, providing resources for fifth grade through the bridge into college and coaching to promote inquiry-based interaction among teachers and faculty so that students can build self-knowledge and learn to self-direct in a complex world.

Her work with LifeBound took her all over the world, working with K-12 international schools on almost every continent. She volunteer taught for two years in the Federal Prison system and spent five years in the Denver Housing projects, where she saw first-hand how our educational system breaks down for low-income populations.

In 2010, Carol went through treatments for lymphoma and realized she was meant to serve the world in a larger way. She founded GlobalMindED with her own investments to create a diverse talent pipeline for women, minorities and first generation to college students who don’t have the networks and experiences that their middle/upper middle class peers have. The GlobalMindED community, which is now 2000+ strong, is dedicated to giving a voice to those who are not typically at the table, but who represent our emerging talent and employment base. In addition to an annual conference, which will be 1,100 strong this June, there are eight colleges that are part of the GlobalMindED Collaborative and a team helping to create the organization’s bold vision: by 2025 we will have 25,000,000 first gen students, first gen graduates, those who work with them and those who want to hire them algorithmically connected with role models, mentors, internships and jobs (think Eharmony for First Gen to college).

If Upton Sinclair were living today, he would no doubt be a part of the GlobalMindED community, which is focused on encouraging people in positions of financial and political power to broaden their base to include the leaders on the ground that we gather and collaborate with in order to solve the world’s wicked problems and to close the equity gap for all. Currently, only 11% of First Gen students who start college graduate with a degree.

The GlobalMindED team wants that number to be 89% within the next decade, with graduates entering into jobs that are commensurate with their degrees. Our nation cannot have a bright economic future without reversing this inequitable and often publicly unknown trend. As a woman and as a trailblazer for the rights of others, Carol is a new kind of leader who is moving the levers for equity so that all can succeed.

Our second winner is Mike Hess.

Mike Hess is the founder of the Blind Institute of Technology. He has been involved on the Board of GlobalMindED and represents the inclusive, diverse leaders in that community. He is working with major corporations like DaVita, Uber, Oppenheimer and others to employ blind, talented workers through his technology that allows them to be employment ready for any number of jobs.

Nationally, unemployment for blind people is around 80%. Mike has reversed these odds with his remarkable energy, vision and know-how. While blind, he is in no way limited. He is a role model as an ability status champion and he is now ready to scale the tremendous gains he has made with Colorado employees so that all blind people have access to wonderful work opportunities across the nation.

For his innovation and leadership, he received the Martin Luther King Award last year from the City of Denver, the Talent Champion Award from the Colorado Technology Association and he is featured here with Governor Hickenlooper for his work across the state filling crucial open jobs with trained blind employees adding tremendous value. With the honor of the Upton Sinclair award, his work can impact employment for the blind nationally, starting with California and moving to every other state. Mike is one of the people changing the world in the most significant ways and it is an absolute honor to have him be one of the dedicated volunteers scaling GlobalMindED as we close the equity gap through education, entrepreneurship, employment and economic mobility.

Our third winner is Marion Brady:

3) Now in his 80s Marion Brady has been a steady rational critic of the current standards-based reform philosophy that has dominated U.S. education for the last quarter century. Despite spending billions to improve the current system by developing and implementing tougher standards for traditional courses in narrow disciplinary silos, there has been little improvement on any indicators except graduation rates and average GPA scores. Yet many K-12 graduates do not know or retain much, as attested to by middling scores on college entry tests, college completion rates and dissatisfaction of employers with the skills and mindsets of their young entry-level employees. These college and employer customers of the educational enterprise continue to complain about the skills gap (not being able to fill open job vacancies) and the persistent achievement gap between students of different family income and racial/ethnic backgrounds.

Marion effectively questions the assumptions governing standards-based education reform and replaces it with his whole-brain systems-based learning (SBL) courses, which he provides free-of-charge from his website ( A frequent contributor of op-eds to leading newspapers such as the Washington Post, Brady sums up his approach as follows:

Systems-Based Learning (SBL) accepts the view of Alfred North Whitehead, Thomas Merton, John Goodlad, Albert Einstein, Peter Senge, Buckminster Fuller, Arthur Koestler, David Bohm, and many other respected scholars, that neither the academic disciplines nor the traditional core curriculum adequately model reality’s holistic, systemically-integrated nature.

Adopting systems theory as the primary organizer of knowledge solves the problem by making all academic disciplines and school subjects parts of a single, much simpler way of organizing information. To facilitate adoption, SBL’s sequenced, hands-on activities use traditional “core” content and their personal experience to help learners of middle-school age and older construct comprehensive, integrated, permanently useful mental models of reality to guide thought and action.

Over the course of a remarkable career, Marion has been an inspiration and mentor to many. Anyone who meets with him as I have, continue to be impressed with his knowledge, humanity and humility.

4) Joan Freeman in Great Britain has devoted her life to gifted children and research on gifted individuals and has written extensively on the issues revolving around gifted education. She has been involved with conferences, journals, schools and universities for most of her adult life. She has consistently published, served on editorial boards and assisted with doctoral dissertations and is readily available for consultation. Her impact goes far beyond Great Britain as she influences the world. For those who want more information about her and her work, they can surf the Internet to

5) In this second part of this year’s Upton Sinclair Awards, we recognize a number of organizations that have contributed to children, and their education.

The first award winner could be called a “no brainer” because for years and decades literally, Scholastic Books have contributed to the reading skills of students across the United States. Utilizing book fairs to raise money for students and indirectly provide books and other educational and reading materials to schools, Scholastic has been a beacon of hope and literacy for many students across the United States. They believe at Scholastic “ that finding the right book at the right time can light an emotional spark within a child that motivates him or her to read more, understand more, and read joyfully” ( from their December 2017 letter to me )

6) The International Literacy Association (formerly the International Reading Association) continues to promote literacy, reading, writing, and support teachers nationwide and worldwide. Their conferences are always well attended as teachers seek new tactics, techniques and strategies to help emerging and struggling readers.

7) The Ayn Rand Institute has provided scholarship funds for many students, literally from all over the world and has distributed many books to those who want to learn more about Ayn Rand and her philosophy and ideas. The Institute provides many other services for those who simply want to learn more about the realm of philosophy and be introduced to this writer. Ayn Rand’s books continue to be read long after her death, and her ideas continue to impact students who are exposed to her works. Even today, discussions are held about her books—such as Anthem, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Her educational impact continues to be felt and with the Internet, her ideas and position papers are now more accessible than ever.

8) The American Enterprise Institute is somewhat of a “ think tank “ that has their finger on the pulse of American education, and the staff there continually write about issues and concerns across a wide realm of educational issues. The AEI is consistently at the forefront of the burning issues in American education and their writings runs the gamut from discipline to charter schools, to technology to parental involvement. There are several individuals who consistently provide thought provoking books- but they are too numerous to name. Suffice it to say that the organization deserve much recognition for their exemplary work.

9) The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is located at 1016 16th St. NW, Floor 8, Washington, DC 20036 and they can be reached at 202.223.5452. They consistently have a number of cutting edge articles, and discussions on various topics. As with some of the other organizations, there are simply too many individuals to name, but suffice it to say that all of the writers, researchers and scholars take their work very seriously and dig deeply into a great many issues, and for this they should be recognized.

10) Lastly, we need to recognize those teachers and students who have lost their lives due to violence over the past few years. We must always be vigilant and not forget the instructors and students who have needlessly been killed, simply trying to learn. Even in New Mexico, two librarians lost their lives, and two students in Aztec, New Mexico were killed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones—as we re-think about the situation at Sandy Hook, on this fifth year anniversary. This situation should not be accepted as the “new normal”.

Previous Upton Sinclair Award Winners:

2005: Gerald Bracey, Nicholas Colangelo, Elaine Garan, Martin Haberman, Jonathan Kozol, Peter and Pam Wright, Reid Lyon;

2006: John Stossel, Jan and Bob Davidson, Peyton Wolcott, Fred Baughman, M.D., Will Fitzhugh, Joel Turtel, Bernard Gassaway, Ned Davis, Her Highness Sheikah Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, “All the Children of the World”;

2007: Sean Hannity, Don Meyer, Ron Clark, Frank Wang, Harry and Rosemary Wong, Tracey McGrady, Dr. Eldo W. Bergman, Queen Rania of Jordan, Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, Ph.D., G. Gbaanador, MD, FACS, FICS, Bill Cecil,  Here’s to the Upton School Principals of America;

2008: Harold V. House, Kathleen Chamberlain, Dee Alpert, Kevin Donnelly, Dona Matthews, Ph.D., Aisha Ussery, Collin Hannaford, Andrew Rotherham, Jim Zellmer., JoAnn Collins;

2009: E.D. Hirsch, Jay Mathews, John Goodlad, Billy Reagan, Geoffrey Canada, Fredrick Hess, Jay Hartling;

2010: Tom Watkins, Marlena Vaughn, Susan Ohanian, Dr. Marion Blank, Neal McCluskey, Ernest Boyer (Posthumously), Mr. Pierre Fignole, Chris Woodhead, Diane Ravitch, Ph.D.

2011: C. M. Rubin, Tavis Smiley, Joe Nathan, Ann Thompson, James Webb, Kiernan Egan, Professor Hani Q. Khoury

2012: Sandy Hook Elementary School of Newtown, CT , individuals, who gave their lives for their pupils and in the service of education individuals, who gave their lives for their pupils and in the service of education. First responders for their courage and on-going assistance in the little town where Sandy Hook Elementary School of Newtown, CT , took a worldwide human race to its knees. Bless Be the Tie That Binds Our Hearts.

2013: Donna Garner, William Korach, Alan Singer, Bror Saxberg, Rick Hess, Paul Horton, Antoinette Tuff, Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D., Dr. Valerie Hill-Jackson

2014: Terry Grier, Paul E. Peterson, First Lady Barbara Bush, Yong Zhao, Christopher Arnold and Tracey Baker, Karen Nave, James Webb, Alice Linahan, Robert Nasson

2015: Dr. Kevin Donnelly, Robert Pondiscio, George Leef, Monty Neill, Bob Schaeffer, Lisa Guisbond, David Mirabella, Michael Petrilli, Peter Greene, Jennifer Waddell, PhD, Gus Jacob, Michael Harris, Lynn Wade, Nicholas D. Hartlep, Alan Hooker

2016: Ben Carson, Elie Wiesel, Jennifer Buckingham, Deborah Confredo, Dr Hani Q. Khoury, Professor Theodore Zeldin, Anna Ulrich, Stephen Colbert, The Unknown Teacher.

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