Nationally renowned school reform pioneer Deborah Meier delivered public addresses in Bloomington and Indianapolis and participated in the opening of an archive of her personal papers at the Lilly Library on Sept. 6-7. The events were a collaborative program of the Institute for Advanced Study, the Indiana University School of Education, Harmony Education Center and the Indiana University Lilly Library.

Meier, whose ideas have heavily influenced schools around the country, has for almost five decades been a teacher, writer and advocate for small schools that are self-governing and democratic with most decisions made by families, teachers and parents in those schools. Those themes will be highlighted in her public addresses.

Her first talk, "Democracy and Education in Urban Schools," was Sept. 6 at George Washington Community High School Auditorium in Indianapolis. Her second, "The Role of Democracy in Education," will be on Sept. 7 at 4:30 p.m. at the Indiana Memorial Union, Georgian Room, in Bloomington.

Meier also participated in a panel discussion on "Creative Teaching in an Era of Testing and Accountability" at the Wendell W. Wright School of Education Building Auditorium in Bloomington on Sept. 9.

"Deborah Meier is one of the country's leading advocates for individualized and intellectually challenging education. We are thrilled to have her involved in multiple initiatives and programs at IU and in our community," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the Indiana University School of Education. "Engaging our faculty and students directly with her groundbreaking work adds greatly to our understanding of the pioneering role her ideas have played in education reform."

Meier attended a public reception celebrating the opening of the Deborah Meier Archives at the Lilly Library on Sept. 7 (photos are on the SOE Facebook page, This archive features primary source materials from Meier's work with three New York City and Boston area public schools, as well as her letters, drafts, notes and finished essays.

The Deborah Meier Archives are housed at Indiana University's Lilly Library, one of the premier rare books, manuscripts and special collections libraries in the world, and are being made available with the assistance of funding from the New York-based Peck Stacpoole Foundation.

"We are honored to house the Deborah Meier Archives at the Lilly Library," said Brenda Johnson, Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries. "Not only does this archive add distinction to the Library's already extensive and prominent collection, but more importantly the archive ensures that scholars will have the ability to access these papers and to further Deborah Meier's revolutionary work."

Meier was the founder and teacher-director of a network of highly successful public elementary schools in East Harlem. In 1985, she founded Central Park East Secondary School, a New York City public high school in which more than 90 percent of the entering students went on to college. During that period, she also founded a coalition center that networked about 50 small K-12 schools in New York City. For her efforts, she was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 1987. She later founded and was principal of the Mission Hill School, a K-8 Boston Public Pilot school serving 180 children in the Roxbury community.

Meier is currently working with the Harmony Education Center in Bloomington, the Indiana University School of Education and the Debbie Meier Institute, an organization dedicated to continuing her work for social justice, equity and democracy in schools.

Meier appeared in Bloomington in April in a moderated conversation with her Education Week blogging partner, Diane Ravitch, a noted education historian, policy analyst and author. That program, titled "Bridging Differences Live," is available on the IU School of Education's Vimeo Channel, at

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