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September 2, 2004

Barbara Sizemore

Barbara Sizemore, former Pitt professor and the first African American woman to head the Washington, D.C. public schools, died in her native Chicago of cancer on July 24, 2004. She was 76.

Sizemore was a nationally renowned practitioner, scholar and consultant on the academic achievement of African-American students She was a professor and interim chairwoman from 1977 to 1992 in Pitt’s former Department of Black Community Research, Education and Development.

Brenda Berrian, professor of Africana studies, remembers Sizemore as an extraordinarily dedicated teacher.

“She was convinced all students could get an ‘A,'” Berrian said. And such achievement was not just a gift, but the product of hard work, she said of Sizemore’s philosophy. And to give students the chance to earn an “A,” Sizemore put in long hours tutoring her students for free.

Berrian characterized Sizemore as an excellent speaker who mesmerized audiences. “She took complex ideas and was able to make them clear. It was always about education and about improvement, She didn’t want to hear ‘I can’t.'”

Sizemore worked in education for more than 50 years. She began her teaching career in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in 1947 and served as an elementary school and high school principal before leaving the system in 1972. In 1973, she was named superintendent of schools in Washington, D.C. She left that post two years later to join Pitt, where she focused her work on the Pittsburgh School System. She was married to Jake Milliones, former president of the Pittsburgh school board.

From 1992 to 1998, she was dean of DePaul’s School of Education, in Chicago, where she helped implement a program in the CPS to raise students’ standardized test scores through school improvement plans and staff development sessions at DePaul.

In addition to helping the CPS, Sizemore served as a consultant to more than 100 agencies, colleges, public school systems, organizations, institutions and state departments of education.

Sizemore received her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Northwestern University in 1947 and 1954, respectively, and her doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1979.

Among the honors and awards she received were the Northwestern University Merit Award, United Nations Association Human Rights Award, Presidential Award from the National Council of Black Studies for Community Service, the Promotion of Black Studies and Scholarship Award and the Racial Justice Award from the YWCA.

She authored “The Ruptured Diamond: The Politics of the Decentralization of the District of Columbia Public Schools,” published by the University Press of America in 1981, and wrote more than 20 chapters in books and many journal articles.

Contributions can be sent to the Barbara Sizemore Scholarship Fund, c/o Structured Ten Routines, 848 Dodge Ave., PMB 471, Evanston, Ill, 60202.

A memorial service is being planned at the University.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 37 Issue 1

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