Maxwell Lewis Rafferty Jr. (May 7, 1917 – June 13, 1982) was an American writer, educator, and politician. The author of several best-selling books about education, Rafferty served two terms as California State Superintendent of Public Instruction and ran unsuccessfully in 1968 for the U.S. Senate as the Republican nominee, losing to Democrat Alan Cranston.
|22nd California Superintendent of Public Instruction|
|Preceded by||Roy E. Simpson|
|Succeeded by||Wilson Riles|
|Born||Maxwell Lewis Rafferty Jr.
May 7, 1917
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Died||June 13, 1982
Near Troy, Alabama
|Spouse(s)||Frances Longman Rafferty (married 1944)|
|Relations||Frances Rafferty (sister)|
|Profession||Author and educator|
Rafferty was born to Maxwell Rafferty Sr. (1886-1967), and the former DeEtta Frances Cox (c. 1892-1972) in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of two children. His younger sibling was actress and pin-up girl Frances Rafferty, a co-star of December Bride. Rafferty spent most of his childhood in Sioux City, Iowa, where his sister was born in 1922. The family relocated to California in 1931. In 1944, he married Frances Longman, and the couple had three children, Kathleen, Dennis, and Eileen.
Rafferty graduated in 1933 from Beverly Hills High School in Beverly Hills. He earned his Bachelor of Arts (1938) and Master of Arts (1949) from the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned his and Ed.D. (1955) from the University of Southern California. While attending UCLA, he was a member, and president, of the Sigma Pi fraternity chapter.
As an undergraduate at UCLA, Rafferty "took umbrage at many of the things" in the college newspaper, the Daily Bruin, "particularly the editorial page ... to the point of charging into the office and physically attacking me", recalled editor Stanley Rubin in 1970.
In 1937, Rafferty wrote a letter to The Los Angeles Times in which he described The Bruin as "one of the most prejudiced newspapers on the Pacific Coast" and complained that the its "radicalism is not so funny if it keeps you from getting a job."
Rafferty's first job, during World War II, was as a classroom teacher in the Trona Unified School District in the Mojave Desert portion of San Bernardino County, California. In his newspaper columns, Rafferty often remarked with nostalgia how his first teaching jobs in California had been the most satisfying ones of his career.
After World War II, Rafferty became vice-principal, principal, and school superintendent in various California school districts, including Big Bear High School in Big Bear Lake from 1948 to 1951. He was the superintendent at Saticoy (1951–1955), Needles (1955–1961), and La Cañada, a prosperous northeast Los Angeles suburb (1961–1962). In 1962, he was elected to the nonpartisan office of California education superintendent, defeating Los Angeles school board president Ralph Richardson. He held the office for two terms, from 1963-71.
In 1968, Rafferty challenged and defeated incumbent Republican Senator Thomas H. Kuchel in the Republican primary election in what has been described as "one of the biggest primary upsets in Senate history." Rafferty ran as a conservative while Kuchel was a moderate. Rafferty then lost the general election to Cranston, the former state controller.
Two years later, in 1970, Rafferty failed in his bid for a third term as Superintendent of Public Instruction, losing to Wilson Riles, the first African-American to be elected to statewide office in California and a Democrat in the nonpartisan race.
He then moved to Alabama to serve on the faculty at Troy University in Troy, serving as Dean of Education from 1971–81, and as Sorrell Chairman of Education from 1981 until his death in 1982. Shortly before his death, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to a national advisory board on the financing of elementary and secondary education.
Rafferty was the author of several books on educational philosophy, including Practice and Trends in School Administration (1961), Suffer, Little Children (1962), What They Are Doing to Your Children (1964), and Max Rafferty on Education (1968). His newspaper column, "Dr. Max Rafferty," was syndicated nationally. He also received the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation.
Rafferty was described as an "outspoken antiprogressive educator" who "built a national reputation attacking busing, sex education and the 'New Left'". His books Suffer, Little Children and What They Are Doing to Your Children attacked progressive education and urged a "return to the fundamentals" in education. In particular, he wanted schools to focus on phonics, memorization, and drill; use American history and children's classics in teaching from the early grades forward; and drop psychology and "life adjustment" approaches from education. Among his controversial actions as school superintendent was his attempt to stop schools and classrooms from using books that he considered obscene, such as Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice and Leroi Jones's Dutchman. He threatened to revoke the teaching certificate of any teacher who used such works. He even attempted to get the Dictionary of American Slang removed from school libraries.
Politically, he was known as an "articulate spokesman for the far right" who had a "nationwide reputation as a Fourth-of-July style orator and writer." In 1968, while running for the Senate, Rafferty said that those caught in looting should be shot.
He urged quick, stiff punishment for crimes: "Retribution is what I'm talking about, friends, and ever since we crawled out of caves, retribution has followed wrongdoing as the night does the day." He promised never to vote for higher taxes or for foreign aid to "dictators who hate us," and he criticized judges who "coddle criminals," saying he could not have voted to confirm any of the then Supreme Court Justices.
- Join California
- Who's Who in America, 1968-1969 (Chicago, Illinois: Marquis Who's Who, 1968), p. 1780
- "Sigma Pi in the News: Superintendent of Public Instruction" (PDF). The Emerald of Sigma Pi. Vol. 49 no. 4. Winter 1963. pp. 163–164.
- "Adytum on High" (PDF). The Emerald of Sigma Pi. Vol. 70 no. 2. p. 21.
- George Garrigues,"Loud Bark and Curious Eyes", archive.is; accessed August 24, 2017.
- George Garrigues,"Loud Bark and Curious Eyes", archive.is; accessed August 24, 2017.
- "Max Rafferty, 1917–1982, Conservative U.S. Educator and Critic: Bibliography of Writings By and About Him," CORE (Collected Original Resources in Education) , VII, No. 1 (1983), Fiche 9 C1
- Woo, Elaine (January 10, 2002). "Ralph Richardson, 83; Professor, School Trustee". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
- Blake, Aaron (May 7, 2012). "Dick Lugar and the biggest primary upsets in Senate history". The Fix. The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Wilson Riles, former state school chief, dies at 81", Sacramento Bee, April 3, 1999
- Susan Sward,, "Wilson Riles—Former Chief of Public Instruction", San Francisco Chronicle, April 3, 1999.
- "Educator Max Rafferty dies in accident". The Free-Lance Star. June 14, 1982. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
- "School post goes to conservative; Dr. Rafferty defeats liberal in California contest", The New York Times, November 8, 1962.
- Crash kills Max Rafferty, Deseret News, June 14, 1982.
- "What was Max Rafferty's Mission?", Lewiston Journal, August 5, 1982
- "New California school director foe of life adjustment theory", The Southeast Missourian, December 15, 1962
- "School Books Spark Battle, Spokane Daily Chronicle, August 25, 1969
- "Teachers Rap Rafferty on Slang Dictionary", Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1963
- Same story in the Los Angeles Public Library collection
- "Negro educator upsets Rafferty in California", Eugene Register-Guard, November 5, 1970
- Bomb halt advocate leads school head in bitter California race, Miami News, October 17, 1968
- Looters should be shot if caught in act -- Rafferty, The Los Angeles Times, April 18, 1968
- "California's Max Rafferty: A fighter with sharp wit", Toledo Blade, June 6, 1968.
- "George Wallace's Appointment in Laurel". Time. CNN. May 29, 1972. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- Ted Thackrey Jr. and Judith A. Michaelson,"Alabama Car Crash Kills Max Rafferty", The Los Angeles Times, June 14, 1982.
- "The Papers of Max Rafferty", lib.uiowa.edu; accessed August 24, 2017.
- Suffer, little children by Max Rafferty. Published 1963 by New American Library in New York (OpenLibrary.org)
- Footage of May 1969 interview with Max Rafferty regarding student unrest on college campuses
|Party political offices|
|Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from California (Class 3)
H. L. Richardson