Flypaper

I'm not a teacher but Ashley Heard is. She was whipped into action (translation: letter to the editor of WaPo) this weekend after hearing about a shooting at Anacostia Senior High School. That said, don't listen to me, listen to her:

Parents: Demand that your children learn. Ask to see their homework, and if they have none, call their teachers to ask why. Find out what your child's teacher is teaching, how she teaches it and how you can help. Make your child's teacher accountable to you. Once, when I gave a student an F, his mother saw his progress report, called and told me in no uncertain terms that I was to inform her when her child did not progress adequately in class. From then on, I spoke with that mother at least once a week. Her son never failed again.??

Teachers: Teach your students. If you are unwilling to do the job for which you are being paid, then get out. Our kids' welfare is more important than your right to tenure.

Hard to argue with that....

The Education Gadfly

All of the votes aren't in yet for today's pick-the-next-education-secretary-daily-tracking-poll, but two new names have surfaced. Both are governors - Washington's Christine "Chris" Gregoire and Massachusetts's Deval Patrick. How seriously are they being considered for the job? Check back this afternoon for the results of our poll.

Christine Gregoire picture from Governor Christine Gregoire website
The Education Gadfly

Ray Mabus has picked up quite a head of steam over the past week or so, putting him fairly high up on the rungs of the ladder in our latest education secretary poll. But, some are certain it's Sebelius, who has risen to the number two spot, knocking Klein out of his armchair.

It looks like our blog post earlier piqued some additional interest in Gov. Deval Patrick, as he joined household names on the big board just before the polls closed.

Lots of new names have been added to the list today at the close of our fourth week holding the poll. Perhaps the insiders are getting antsy and are looking to mix things up. Or maybe they just don't want to be blindsided by an unexpected (maverick?) pick. Another new name today is former journalist and current Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson.

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Here at Fordham, the staff assistant is the glue that holds the place together. If you're among the 6.7% of Americans who need work, or if you have a good job but want a great one, please check out our job listing and apply today.

Stafford (and David Brooks) are right that putting Linda Darling Hammond in the sub-cabinet would be just as troubling as putting her in the cabinet itself. Brooks writes that, "If the deputies and assistants in the secretary's office are not true reformers, nothing will get done." So true! We've had recent experience with this when a certain not-so-true-reformer (see Neuman, Susan B.) ran the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and the early implementation of No Child Left Behind ground to a halt.

With both David Brooks of the New York Times and the Washington Post's editorial page saying that Democrats are split over education, there's no denying it. Brooks says:

As in many other areas, the biggest education debates are happening within the Democratic Party. On the one hand, there are the reformers like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, who support merit pay for good teachers, charter schools and tough accountability standards. On the other hand, there are the teachers' unions and the members of the Ed School establishment, who emphasize greater funding, smaller class sizes and superficial reforms.

In the Post's words:

The different education factions of the party -- those pushing for radical restructuring and those more wedded to the status quo -- were each convinced during the campaign that Mr. Obama shared their particular viewpoints. So it is not clear whether Mr. Obama is leaning toward the "disrupters," House education committee chairman George Miller's approving description of the reformers, or the "incrementalists" who are allied with teachers unions.

The Post urges the President-Elect not to pick Linda Darling-Hammond; Brooks is hoping for the selection of Arne Duncan or Joel...

Well, Mike ain't gonna be getting a Christmas card from Linda this year. In an article published today in the New Republic, Mike is clear: when it comes to secretary picks, LDH is the "worst case scenario" (of course, Flypaper readers will know that that particular sentiment is old news). The article, which outlines Darling-Hammond's history in the education community, is certainly right about one thing: her appointment as secretary, deputy secretary, or really any position in the department or administration at all is going to cause a huge uproar. (If her position as transition team education advisor hasn't done that already.)

Apparently Darling-Hammond doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. She thinks that her "personal opinions" don't matter because she's just there to "implement" Obama's education platform. Well, that's all warm and fuzzy (or as Mike would say--and did--"The ideas associated with Darling-Hammond are ones that educators love because they're warm and fuzzy,") but it still begs the question: what is Obama's education platform? He certainly did a bang up job playing both sides against the middle during the campaign. And now we're left wondering where he stands--and when...

David Brooks has been weighing in on the education secretary debate for a few weeks now. Today's??latest installment, however, I think was his best. He brought up the usual names for the top spot--Joel Klein, Arne Duncan, and Linda Darling-Hammond--but he also had an interesting insight that merits more attention:

The candidates before Obama apparently include: Joel Klein, the highly successful New York chancellor who has, nonetheless, been blackballed by the unions; Arne Duncan, the reforming Chicago head who is less controversial; Darling-Hammond herself; and some former governor to be named later, with Darling-Hammond as the deputy secretary.

In some sense, the final option would be the biggest setback for reform. Education is one of those areas where implementation and the details are more important than grand pronouncements. If the deputies and assistants in the secretary's office are not true reformers, nothing will get done. (my emphasis)

So what does this mean? There are many theories about the bully-pulpit skills of Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings. Mike, in fact, wrote a few weeks ago??(actually in response to another Brooks column) that the perfect education secretary would have a strong grasp of education, policy, and management....

The Education Gadfly

Kathleen Sebelius almost beat out Joel Klein in our poll today, falling short of Klein's 9.7% of the vote, with just 9.5%. Not too much else has changed, so we are sitting tight. What might start to change insider opinion is a new story released by the Associated Press about Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who says he doesn't want the job. He said he intends to finish his term in office, ending in January of 2010. Should we believe it? After all, he has been amenable to serving with Obama before.

Dan Lips of The Heritage Foundation argues that there's much more to the conservative education agenda than just choice--that "the pundits who are pushing for the Republican Party to develop new ideas should appreciate the scope and success of conservative reforms in education." He makes a decent case, pointing to a variety of reforms in Florida (under Jeb Bush) and a couple in Tennessee.

Of course we've said for years that choice and accountability go hand-in-hand, but also that such reforms to the structure of schooling have to be accompanied by changes in how schools and districts actually operate--e.g., in their curricular, hiring, and staffing practices. But it's great to see these views echoed by Heritage--I guess there's nothing better than a Democratic administration to bring some realism to the right.

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