POLITICS MARCH 31, 2008
Josh Patashnik's recent article, "Reform School" (March 26), is disappointingly inaccurate. He misquotes my interview in the Concord Monitor, in which I distinguished Obama's innovative teacher compensation proposal from the kind of old-style merit-pay plans that have failed in the past. Also, Patashnik worries that Obama is insufficiently bold on education reform without, apparently, having read Obama's education plan. Patashnik cites favorably the kind of teacher-led compensation reform developed in Denver but seems to be unaware that this plan is one of several cited in Obama's platform as an example of the kind of innovative approach his career ladder plan would seek to support. The plan also promotes a range of incentives to teach in high-need schools, including high-quality alternative approaches to teacher recruitment and preparation and extended time for student learning--all things that Patashnik paints as absent from the debate. Obama's advisers, who hold a wide range of views, agree that new approaches to education reform are essential to create both the incentives and supports for the serious changes needed to upgrade urban schools, transform the teaching profession, and dramatically improve educational achievement. Next time Patashnik wants to characterize the candidates' views, he might want to start by finding out what they are first.
Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University.
By Linda Darling-Hammond