Wednesday, July 8, 2009

NEA follow-up

Duncan vs. Darling-Hammond

Looking back and looking ahead, a lot of us can't help wondering how different things might be had Obama chosen Linda Darling-Hammond rather than Arne Duncan, as his ed secretary. At last weekend's NEA Conference, the two speakers offered two different takes on school reform and on the source of the problem:

Arne Duncan:
2,000 high schools produce half of the dropouts in the country. Their kids are years behind grade. They are perpetuating poverty and social failure...But if we agree that the adults in these schools are failing these children then we have to find the right people and we can't let our rules and regulations get in the way... And we can't continue to blame each other or blame the system. We are the system... (
Linda Darling-Hammond:
It’s not the people who are at fault, it’s the system that needs an overhaul. We need federal policies that support educators in doing the challenging work that they have committed to do...We need a new form of accountability. Tests and punishments will not create accountability."(Teacher Beat)


  1. I tend to agree with Diane Ravitch, who is on record calling Arne Duncan "Margaret Spellings in drag." I really do not think Duncan understands education, and he is prone to saying things that are really not supported by the available data.

  2. Funny thing is...we do not agree that the adults in the schools are failing these children. Also, isn't, by definition, saying "the adults in these schools are failing these children", blaming someone?

    What is the plan now?

  3. It's sad that LDH wasn't chosen. But it's also interesting that such diametrically opposed viewpoints could exist with Obama's camp.

  4. Ken,

    Although I appreciate Ravitch's intentions, I still think she misses the boat with the "in drag" remark. Aside from being somewhat offensive to women and gay people, Ravitch lumps liberals and neocons together and covers over their differences. That's a big, big tactical mistake. Can you imagine Spellings inviting the unions to the table? Promoting Headstart and early childhood programs? Giving public schools the biggest infusion of ed dollars in history? We've got to take on Duncan's line all right. But we should do it on just grounds, with reason and with restraint. Why use that hyperbole and that imagery? Sends the wrong message. Darling-Hammond set a good example for us in her NEA speech. Check it out.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.