Jay Mathews is the education columnist of The Washington Post. He has been with the Post 38 years. He was born April 5, 1945, in Long Beach, Calif., and attended Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, CA, and Harvard Colleges and served with the army in Vietnam. He has reported from China and California, and covered the stock market in New York. He has written seven books, including works on China, disability rights, the famous Los Angeles math teacher, Jaime Escalante, and the lack of challenge in American high schools.
His rating system for U.S. high schools, the Challenge Index, appears every year in Newsweek and the Post. It has been cited in hundreds of newspapers and magazines since 1998 and is often the most-visited feature on the Newsweek.com Web site. It received 3.7 million hits the first week of its 2009 appearance.
Mathews' best-selling college admissions book, Harvard Schmarvard, shows why admission to a brand-name school will NOT change your life, and instructs applicants in how to survive the application process with their family and their sense of humor intact. His book, Supertest: How the International Baccalaureate Can Strengthen Our Schools, describes the IB program's success in transforming ordinary schools, particularly Mount Vernon High in Fairfax County.
His most successful book is his most recent, "Work Hard. Be Nice - How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America." The story of how KIPP school founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg raised the achievement of impoverished students to new heights was a New York Times bestseller in 2009.
His column in the Post's Metro section, which began a year ago, appears each Monday. His "Extra Credit" column, six years old, appears Thursdays in the Post's Extra sections. His weekly online column, now nine years old, appears each Friday on his "Class Struggle" blog at http://washingtonpost.com/class-struggle, where he posts other items regularly.
He has won the Education Writers Association National Education Reporting Award and the Benjamin Fine Award for Outstanding Education Reporting, as well as the Eugene Meyer Award, The Washington Post's top honor for distinguished service to the newspaper.