by Kate Walsh
No matter how many times it happens, it's always hard to lose friends. It's hard to understand how people can seem so vital one minute, as engaged as anyone in both the trivial and significant events of life, and the next minute, not. It is as if the person has been grabbed from us--though there is no theological or metaphysical rationale for such a feeling.
Lew Solmon, father, husband, friend and colleague, died this week. The first time I was going to meet Lew, I was told "You'll love him. He may seem gruff, but he's a total teddy bear." As a man who was a perpetual devotee of the Atkins diet, I'm not sure he would have liked that characterization. But Lew was a lovable man, as well as amazingly smart, professionally courageous, utterly committed to ed reform, and an absolute gentleman.
The ed reform community has lost some courageous and indispensable soldiers over the years. Certainly, here is another. Lew Solmon has done more than any single person in the nation to urge us to rethink the structural underpinnings of the teaching profession, not just in terms of pay-- but also teachers' stature, professional growth and job satisfaction. It is a loss that we'll feel long after he is laid to rest.
Our condolences to Lew's wife, Vicki, and children; Lowell Milken; and all of Lew's colleagues at the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.