The news media is clearly anticipating the announcement of an education secretary pick soon, because the k-12 issue hasn't gotten this much attention since George Bush and Ted Kennedy teamed up to pass the No Child Left Behind Act. First David Brooks and the Washington Post editorial board made the Democratic Party's education schism official, and then The New Republic turned up the temperature on Linda Darling-Hammond. And now Newsweek's Jonathan Alter is telling us to buckle our seatbelts because Bill Gates is becoming an education reformer full time. All in the span of a few days!

There's plenty to like about Alter's piece; I love the quote by House education committee chairman George Miller that "the debate is between incrementalists and disrupters, and I'm with the disrupters." (Alter must have sat in on an editorial board meeting with his Post colleagues because they used that terminology too.)

But Mr. Alter, you ought to be ashamed about this line: "We know by now what works for at-risk kids. The challenge is trying to replicate it." Sure, this is true in the simplest sense. KIPP works. Achievement First works. Cristo Rey works....

Amy Fagan

Apparently there's a book being released next year about giftedness and recently interviewed the author of the book's foreword-- Carol S. Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Dweck tells us:

The essence of this book is that giftedness and talent are much more multi-faceted than we ever realized. They can grow in different children in different ways, under different circumstances, and at different ages. Talent is not simply something that a child is born with and that blossoms naturally throughout life.

This is crucial because it changes the whole enterprise. The enterprise used to be one of measuring and identifying giftedness--deciding who was gifted and who was not. Now, the enterprise is one of fostering giftedness and talent-creating the conditions in which it will flourish for as many children as possible.

Ah yes--nature vs. nurture. The debate continues. Still, I found what Dweck had to say quite interesting. Essentially, she said there are ways that a child who's gifted early-on may lose that edge. A child may initially find work extremely easy, fail to develop good work habits and stumble later on when work...

Amy Fagan

As many Americans face increasingly tight financial times--and some even unemployment--I found this story by Yoav Gonen, New York Post, to be EXTREMELY interesting. Crazy, to be perfectly honest.

Apparently a group of public-school principals are earning six-figure salaries to oversee rooms of teachers who are awaiting disciplinary hearings on charges ranging from habitual lateness to striking a student. Hmm...That essentially amounts to keeping watch on the detention room!!! One teacher quoted in the article summed it up well:

"I wish I had that job," said a teacher recently released from a Manhattan room. "[They're] basically earning a principal's salary for doing nothing."

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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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...