Eich bin ein Reformer

by Robert Pondiscio
December 12th, 2008

Tired of being a pinata, Linda Darling Hammond takes to the New York Times this morning to defend herself from David Brooks’ charge that she is “anti-reform.”  Says Obama’s point person on education:

Since I entered teaching, I have fought to change the status quo that routinely delivers dysfunctional schools and low-quality teaching to students of color in low-income communities. I have challenged inequalities in financing. I have helped develop new school models through both district-led innovations and charters. And I have worked to create higher standards for both students and teachers, along with assessments that measure critical thinking and performance.

Isn’t ”if you’re explaining you’re losing” a cardinal rule of politics?  The subtext of her letter is really more about who gets to claim the mantle of “reformer.”  The Los Angeles Times (HT: Flypaper) notes LDH’s well-publicized criticism of Teach For America ”give us little confidence that she would support innovative approaches to education.”  The paper isn’t giving blanket support to the self-described reform camp, however, noting that while it would be a shame for the reform movement to lose momentum, ”reformers must be open to how badly No Child Left Behind itself needs reform.”

“After years of public battering, schools need a leader who is less an ideologue than a pragmatist,” the Times concludes, “who puts children ahead of both union and political priorities.”

These Things Take Time

by Robert Pondiscio
December 11th, 2008

Still no Education Secretary?  Flypaper is getting tired of waiting for Obama to make his choice.  Just a hunch, but there might be an obvious explanation for the hold-up.  Instead of the standard FBI background check and seven-page questionnaire, perhaps the President-elect’s education advisors are insisting the candidates submit portfolios and other “authentic assessments.”

Fish or Cut Bait

by Robert Pondiscio
December 8th, 2008

“If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well, it were done quickly.”

If I were Obama, I’d take Macbeth’s advice and hurry up and pick my education secretary already, if only to put an end to the nonstop “reformers vs. traditionalists” drumbeats that are growing by intensity day by day.  The will he or won’t he (pick a “reformer” or go old school) has now been the subject of this David Brooks column, this piece in The New Republic, and this story in the Associated Press in the last three days alone.  Perhaps the pick is someone both sides will be equally pleased with – or upset by.  But if you’re planning on alienating a segment of your amen corner, why prolong the agony?  Let the healing begin.