Education Reporter Michael Brick Dead

Author of book on Reagan High dies of cancer

Michael Brick
Michael Brick (Courtesy of Ben Sklar)

It's a sad day in Texas journalism, and especially among the state's small cadre of education reporters. Austinite Michael Brick, a Houston Chronicle reporter and the author of the definitive story of the saving of East Austin's Reagan High School, has died this morning of colon cancer at the age of 41.

In 2012, Brick published Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids, and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform. He had become attracted to the story of the beleaguered Reagan campus in 2008, when there were protests at the Capitol about the state's threat to close the campus, and he spent a year tracking how the staff and the students came together to save their school. At the time, he talked to the Chronicle about the experience of immersing himself in the highs and lows of a public school in peril.

His advice on how to report such a sprawling, complicated story, which was so important to so many people, was simple: "Just be cool. That's been my guiding principle as a reporter over the years. Quoting the Bible, 'Treat people like you would want to be treated.' Keep in mind that it's other people's lives and other people's stories you're looking to understand and translate their world through your own perspective."

The reporting process on the book was a homecoming for Brick. A UT-Austin graduate, Brick had joined The New York Times in 2001, and worked on major stories such as the Enron scandal, and the Times' coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, he left the Times staff, but continued to write for them, until joining the Houston Chronicle as a senior writer in 2014. Last August, Brick launched his new weekly sports column, "This Sporting Life", which covered issues as wide spread as fights in football and the ethics of big game hunting.

The Chronicle would like to pass on its deepest condolences to his family and friends.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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