BETTING ON SCHOOL REFORM

BETTING ON SCHOOL REFORM… With Obama having already chosen his economic and national security teams, speculation is now turning to who he’ll tap for jobs like Education Secretary. For that particular position, clear battlelines have been drawn between what House education committee chairman George Miller calls “disruptors” and “incrementalists.” The disruptors want Obama to pick a secretary who backs agressive experiments in school reform–someone like New York City Schools chancellor Joel Klein or Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan. The incrementalists (among them the teachers unions) want a secretary who shares their skepticism of charter schools and other nontraditional reform efforts; Stanford president Linda Darling-Hammond is their favored candidate.

Obama has nurtured relationships with both sides. But he put Darling-Hammond in charge of his education policy transition group. So it’s not unreasonable to predict that he’ll go with an incrementalist as secretary. Yet why do I have this feeling that a reformer will get the nod? Wishful thinking perhaps. Also a sense that anyone who picks Rahm Emanuel for his chief of staff and Larry Summers for his economics adviser is not looking to play it safe policywise. But another piece of evidence is the similarity between this Washington Post editorial today and this David Brooks column. These reform guys sure know how to plant a story.

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Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. He was an editor at the magazine from 1986 to 1988.