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Have an Opinion on Obama’s Education Secretary? Start an Online Petition!

By Alyson Klein — November 13, 2008 2 min read
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Actually, a couple groups have already beaten you to it.

One group of petitioners is trying to get Sen. Barack Obama to appoint Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford education professor and one of Obama’s campaign advisers as secretary of education.

The group says it seeks “a truly progressive public education system” and “that Dr. Darling-Hammond is a key ingredient to achieving such a system.”

Darling-Hammond has done extensive research on leadership and teacher professional development. She is a champion of teacher residency programs, which allow prospective educators to get beefed-up field experiences while earning teacher certification or a master’s degree.

So far, the petitioners has more than 740 signatures and comments along the lines of Joe Henderson’s from Rochester, N.Y. (He doesn’t give his occupation or more identifying information). He writes: “Don’t send another privatizer in there to destroy the promise that is public education.”

With or without the petition, it looks like Darling-Hammond is helping plan the new administration. Michele, who will be attending the Council of Chief State School Officers meeting this weekend in Austin, Texas, told me that Darling-Hammond will be addressing the group about the transition.

Reading between the lines, I’m thinking that the Obama team wouldn’t have sent Darling-Hammond to address the country’s top state school officials on their behalf if she wasn’t going to take some sort of role in the new administration.

Online petitioners aren’t always on the “pro” side. There also are two online petitions urging President-elect Obama not to select Joel Klein, the chancellor of the New York City public schools, as secretary of education.

Klein, who supports alternative-pay programs and charter schools, has clashed with the United Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFT during his tenure. (He’s not a relative of mine, in case you were curious.) His name has been floated as a possible education secretary in the New York Times and Richard Cohen’s column in Tuesday’s Washington Post.

One anti-Klein grouphas a format that looks suspiciously similar to the pro-Darling-Hammond petition. (The two petitions were started by different people though)

The other is put-forth by TAG, or Teacher Activist Groups, which describes itself as a national coalition of teacher activist organizations. TAG opposes not only the appointment of Klein but also Arne Duncan, the CEO of Chicago Schools, who reportedly plays basketball with President-elect Obama.

You can read more about the anti-Klein efforts in my colleague Vashaili Honawar’s blog, Teacher Beat.

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