Jay Mathews

Education writer and columnist

Mathews has worked at the Washington Post since 1971. He has written news reports and books about China and disability rights, but most of his writing in the last 40 years has been about education. He wrote a weekly column for many years, but cut back in 2023 to a column every one or two months. He is the author of ten books, including five about high schools. His 2009 book "Work Hard. Be Nice." about the birth and growth of the KIPP charter school network was a New York Times bestseller. He created and supervises the annual Challenge Index rankings of American high schools. He has won several awards for education writing and was given the Upton Sinclair award as “a beacon of light in the realm of education.” He has won the Eugene Meyer Award for distinguished service to The Washington Post.

His latest book is An Optimist's Guide to American Public Education, which reveals the three most effective school reforms to survive the pandemic. He has spoken throughout the country on the need to bring challenging lessons to all students and release the untapped potential of low-income American children.

Honors & Awards:

  • Upton Sinclair award in 2009 as "a beacon of light in the realm of education"
  • Eugene Meyer award in 2006 for distinguished service to the Washington Post
  • Benjamin Fine Education Awards in 1999 for best column and for best story on a single subject
  • Education Writers Associatlon Award in 1984 for series on job training