With the battles swirling around the potential next Education Secretary - for and against the Joel Klein/Michelle Rhee/Arne Duncan, a major attack has been launched on Linda Darling-Hammond, who has been a key advisor on Obama's ed team even though a critic of those media darlings Teach for America. Naturally, the TFA machine is sweating a bit and has been part of the attack on Darling-Hammond.
Some people are optimistic, thinking the D-H critics have gone too far. That Obama will move in her direction. Witness the John Affelt post at Huffington (which I posted at Norms Notes). Affelt opens with this:
A slickly-coordinated string of editorials and columns in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Republic, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere has poured forth recently, all decrying the possible appointment of Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond as Secretary of Education. Obviously responding to the same talking points, the pieces paint Darling-Hammond a status quo, incrementalist and anoint a new group of pro-merit pay/pro-testing/pro-charter school advocates as the hard-charging "reformers."So I have borrowed WFAN's Steve Somers' FEARLESS FORECASTER to predict the fate of D-H. Unfortunately, I don't agree with the view that Obama will turn out to be the kind of politician who will pick D-H. He seems to look at how easy it will be to get a person confirmed. And with both Republicans and many Democrats taking a view that D-H is easy on teachers, we can expect quite a battle if Obama chooses her. On the other hand, if he chooses Duncan or Klein or Rhee, there will be screams of protest from educators but not from politicians.
Darling-Hammond has spent 30 years pushing for a radical restructuring of public schools and the systems that serve them so that all students will have high-quality teachers and rich learning opportunities, not just well-off, predominantly white kids. To call her a defender of the status quo is like calling Lincoln a defender of slavery because he wasn't as absolute in opposition as were some on his team of rivals.
By drawing so heavily from the old playbook, the hard-chargers may have just charged off the cliff--virtually ensuring Obama will be less receptive to their pleas.
Note: If you read Randi Weingarten's letter to the NY Times (posted at ed notes Dec. 13) you will see she did not put the AFT/UFT in the Darling-Hammond camp at all - which shows how the union lines up as more political than educational. A recent quote is in effect an endorsement of Arne Duncan: “We have no candidate in the race,” Ms. Weingarten said. But last week she publicly praised Mr. Duncan in an interview with The Associated Press. “Arne Duncan,” she said, “actually reaches out and tries to do things in a collaborative way.”
FEARLESS says that Obama will go the route of least protest and choose some non-controversial politician who is palatable to all sides. After all, Obama himself has gone both ways on education and left people guessing.
Thus, FEARLESS' prediction is that for Darling-Hammond, becoming Education Secretary is
More Speculation on Education Secretary at Norms Notes.