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As a thinker tanker, I have to assume that this line in President-Elect Obama's speech yesterday was aimed at people like me:

When??Arne speaks to educators across America, it won't be from up in some ivory tower,* but from the lessons he's learned during his years changing our schools, from the bottom up.

But I take solace in knowing that Linda Darling-Hammond lives in an Ivory Tower too. So for today I'm going to take this as another promising sign that she's heading back to Palo Alto.

* By the way, wasn't it the Bush Administration that was famous for anti-intellectualism? This is the kind of rhetoric typically associated with the right. Interesting.

Amy Fagan

Arne Duncan isn't the only one who has had a busy week! Fordham's Checker and Mike have been quoted in numerous articles over the past few days, giving their views on Obama's pick for education secretary. Those have included pieces in The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Chronicle of Higher Ed, National Review Online, and more......!!...

The main media "narrative" of today's ed-sec pick is that Arne Duncan was the "compromise" candidate that both reformers and the teachers union camp within the Democratic Party could abide. Fair enough. Everyone sees something in Arne Duncan that they can claim as their own.

But as I mentioned earlier, "compromise" isn't quite the right concept , and it's not likely to be President-Elect Obama's strategy over the next four years. Compromise implies give and take, everyone getting less than what they wanted. What we'll see instead, I suspect, is a strategy of addition, not subtraction. The unions and their allies will get programs they like. And the reformers will get programs they like. And Obama will try like the dickens to avoid the contentious issues that truly divide them.

Consider today's press conference (here's the transcript ). The President-Elect surely pleased reformers with his mention of charter schools and his enthusiasm for closing down failing schools. But he also please the teachers unions with his call to hold "governments" accountable and his praise for Chicago's work boosting the number of Nationally Board-Certified teachers.

What he didn't do was mention the No Child Left Behind...

We've already weighed in on what president-Elect Obama's selection of Arne Duncan as the next U.S. Secretary of Education may mean for education policy. But it has another meaning to those of us at Flypaper: the end of our pick-the-next-education-secretary daily tracking poll. Yes, I think I'm going to cry.

Our six-week-long experiment proved successful, as Arne Duncan led his competitors from the very first day and never looked back. (Though, to be fair, it was quite a contest the first week, when Jim Hunt and Colin Powell were still in the running. But once they took themselves out of contention, Duncan dunked the rest of the field.)

So which of our Washington Insiders got it right from the very start? It sure wasn't me; I didn't get on board until a few weeks ago, when my first two picks (Hunt and Bill Richardson) decided they had other plans. Nope, the insider's insider was Bethany Little, Vice President for Policy and Federal Advocacy at the Alliance for Excellent Education. Way back on November 10th??she gave Duncan a 70 percent chance of becoming secretary, and she never lost...

1. He's widely (and fairly) seen as the "consensus candidate," bridging the divides between two camps within the Democratic Party (the reformers and the establishment). But he's not so much a compromise as a canvas upon which people of various persuasions can paint their hopes and dreams (much like his boss). To the reformers, he's a crusader for charter schools and merit pay. To the unions he's a conciliator and peacemaker. To NCLB supporters he's an accountability hawk. To NCLB detractors he's a "flexibility" proponent. Which of these things is he really? Time will tell.

2. The era of gubernatorial leadership in education is officially over. It feels like a long time since we had a former governor as education secretary. Lamar Alexander and Richard Riley epitomized the role of the states as leaders in education reform. But now, with Arne Duncan replicating Rod Paige's ascension, the mantle has passed to the big cities.

3. Unfortunately, Duncan doesn't know, from personal experience, what good state policy looks like. Illinois is, for the most part, a big mess on the policy front, with its vague, low standards, lackluster accountability system, and tiny charter school movement. Here's hoping that Duncan...

Sometimes the conventional wisdom is right; President-Elect Barack Obama has selected Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan as his secretary of education.?? Here's what our president, Chester E. Finn, Jr., has to say about it:

"Arne Duncan is a terrific pick, and not just because he's close to the President-elect and speaks Chicago-ese. He's a proven and committed and inventive education reformer, not tethered to the public-school establishment and its infinite interest groups, nor bedazzled by blandishments and commands from Washington. He's earned his spurs in a huge and challenging school district, is a force for positive change nationally, has navigated Chicago politics, has stood up to Margaret Spellings, and manages, with all that, to be a thoughtful, affable and likeable guy. If he's also allowed to pick his own team, education (and the Education Department) will be in good hands during a very challenging time. (If he's undercut by goofuses, ed school ideologues and union goons forced upon him by the Office of Presidential Personnel, however, he'll have to waste far too much time on internal battles as the fledgling Obama administration figures out which side of the Great Democratic Education Schism it is really on.)"

We'll have...

In our first installment of "Questions for Linda Darling-Hammond," we asked about a chapter she wrote in an anti-NCLB book. In the second installment we asked about key parts of her 1996 manifesto, What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future. Today we're going to turn to a different medium: a webcast. In particular, LDH's October 21st??Education Week debate with Lisa Graham Keegan.

As Ed Week's Vaishali Honawar reported, the Teach For America program was a point of contention, with Keegan promoting it and Darling-Hammond attacking it.

Darling-Hammond raised concerns about the retention rates of TFA teachers and reeled off statistics citing that 49 percent of teachers who come in without training leave teaching within three years, while only 19 percent that come fully trained through teacher programs do so.

Darling-Hammond also said that TFA and its ilk were not the way to "build the profession." So let's get started.

1. Dr. Darling-Hammond: It's true that most (though certainly not all) TFA teachers leave the classroom after two or three years. Still, most TFA alumni??remain involved in education in some way. Many of the best charter schools in the country...

The New Republic's Seyward Darby, she who penned this dynamite (as in explosive and as in very good) article about Linda Darling-Hammond, is reporting that a source is telling her it's down to Arne Duncan, Michael Bennet or Jon Schnur for education secretary. And even better, we might get two of the three!

As leaders of large school systems, both Duncan and Bennet have battled with unions on several issues. Yet Duncan was praised recently by Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, and Bennet has received support for the secretary nomination from the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. The source says Schnur, who previously advised Al Gore and former education secretary Richard Riley, has the most Beltway experience of the three, which might also make him a strong pick for a deputy role.

Jay Greene just made our day. In his post on the best of 2008, he points to the growing cadre of reformers within the Democratic Party--as well as some defection on the right.

The Democratic supporters of reform largely (but not exclusively) consist of urban minority leaders, including Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Adrian Fenty, Cory Booker, Kevin Chavous, Al Sharpton, and Marion Barry.?? Go ahead and make all the Sharpton and Barry jokes you like, but this (mostly) minority defection of urban Democrats from union orthodoxy is like a political earthquake that will have important implications for future reform politics.

It's true that some conservatives have begun backtracking on reform ideas, including Sol Stern, Diane Ravitch, and depending on the day of the week, Checker Finn and Mike Petrilli.?? But if the reform movement has traded some conservatives for the new generation of minority Democratic leadership, I think we've come out ahead.

Hey, I'm thrilled that Democrats are increasingly on board the school reform bus. But I'm just as glad to be seen as part of a forum of free thinkers. When reform ideas turn out not to work, "backtracking"...