My Vote for Education Secretary

(If it doesn't go to Colin Powell, who is big on education these days...)

Linda Darling-Hammond
Being considered for: Education secretary
Would bring to the job: A 30-year career as an education professor, currently at Stanford, and as a social scientist. She is an authority on school reform, educational equity and teacher quality, the latter because she directed the work of a national blue ribbon panel on teaching and founded a charter school that specializes in teacher training. She has encouraged the work of teacher training academies in Chicago and elsewhere.
Is linked to Mr. Obama by: Helped draft his ambitious educational program, especially the parts that call for recruiting and training thousands of new teachers each year. She shares the president-elect's respect for the role played by excellent teachers in raising student achievement and was one of two experts who appeared repeatedly as surrogates for him in debates with Senator John McCain's top education adviser during the campaign. She now heads the Obama transition team's working group on education policy.
In her own words: "Lagging far behind our international peers in educational outcomes — and with one of the most unequal educational systems in the industrialized world — we need, I believe, something much more than and much different from what No Child Left Behind offers. We badly need a national policy that enables schools to meet the intellectual demands of the 21st century." (The Nation, May 2, 2007)
Used to work as: Before moving to Stanford in 1998, she taught for a decade at Teachers College at Columbia University. She spent the 1980's in Washington as a social scientist at the RAND corporation. Before and after graduating from college, she taught in various classrooms and spent a year teaching high school English in Media, Pa.
Carries as baggage: She signed a manifesto this year calling for greatly increased federal spending on poor schools and students, which put her at odds with signers of a competing one that said the nation's priority should be to squeeze teachers unions and administrators harder to raise minority achievement. She is a longtime critic of Teach for America because many of its corps members abandon the classroom just when they are learning their jobs, but she has recently acknowledged that the program recruited new talent into teaching.
Also known for: Biking to work on the Stanford campus and playing piano. She says she is waiting for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to return to campus so the two can pick up on a mutual promise to do some two-piano work together.
Résumé includes: Born Dec. 21, 1951, in Cleveland ... graduated magna cum laude from Yale, and earned her education doctorate from Temple University ... eight universities have awarded her honorary degrees.


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