Despite rumors to the contrary, Linda Darling-Hammond, a controversial figure in the education world, will not be taking any positions in the Obama administration. Patrick Riccards, CEO of Exemplar Strategic Communications and an education insider, confirmed to me today that Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor, has e-mailed him to say she won't be working at the Department of Education for legitimate family reasons. "I wanted to let you know that several things have converged in the last two weeks to persuade me to stay in California and support the President's agenda from here.
Remember the controversy over Linda Darling-Hammond, Obama's campaign and transition adviser on education? Well, she's back. Rumor has it that Darling-Hammond might be getting the deputy secretary position at the Department of Education, which, as this graph shows, wields great power. "That's the person that really runs the agency," one education expert and reformer told me. It's a scenario that reformers, who favor tough new approaches to changing education and see Darling-Hammond as a traditionalist, had hoped wouldn't happen. "I guess we lost on this one," the reformer told me.
In November, Barack Obama bewildered education reformers by tapping Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor who had advised his campaign, to oversee the transition's education policy team. Their verdict was swift and harsh. "Worst case scenario," wrote Mike Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank, the day after The Wall Street Journal leaked the news. "This is a sign that the president-elect isn't a bona fide reformer," he later told me.
The already heated debate between two rival education camps--the traditionalists and the reformers--about leadership and policy under Obama is becoming even more virtriolic. On Friday, transition adviser Linda Darling-Hammond, whom I wrote about earlier this week, responded to her reform critics in a letter to The New York Times. While touting her record, Darling-Hammond tempered her previous censures of No Child Left Behind; she said she has sought to "amend and reauthorize" it.
Over at The American Prospect, Dana Goldstein and Ezra Klein have responded to my article about Linda Darling-Hammond, saying that I take a surface-level approach to education policy ideas and the debate between two feuding, progressive camps. Goldstein says Darling-Hammond is well-suited for the job of heading the transition's education policy team: She's a fine person... to do what the transition team leaders are actually doing, which is fact-finding on how each federal agency is currently run, and how it can become more effective under Obama. In fact, that's not Darling-Hammond's job.
The conservative punditocracy's love affair with Barack Obama is finally coming to an end. No doubt that owes mostly to the decline of Hillary Clinton's candidacy--and the increased political risk of saying anything nice about a Democrat who looks like he might actually win--but the official rationale is ideological: Where once the right's scribes had, like George F. Will, characterized the former Harvard Law Review editor as "refreshingly cerebral," they have now decided that he's just a regular old liberal.