Federal Federal File

Petitioners Battling Over Top Ed. Job

By Alyson Klein & Vaishali Honawar — November 19, 2008 1 min read

Online petitioners are urging President-elect Barack Obama to appoint Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University education professor and an adviser to the Obama presidential campaign, as secretary of education.

The group was started by David Atias, who did not respond to requests for more information about himself. The petition says the signers are seeking “a truly progressive public education system” and “that Dr. Darling-Hammond is a key ingredient to achieving such a system.”

Ms. Darling-Hammond has done extensive research on leadership and teacher professional development and has championed the residency model of teacher preparation, which offers beefed-up field experiences.

So far, the petition has more than 1,240 signatures, along with comments such as that from Joe Henderson of Rochester, N.Y., who writes: “Don’t send another privatizer in there to destroy the promise that is public education.”

Two other online petitions urge Mr. Obama not to select Joel I. Klein, the chancellor of the New York City public schools, whose name as been floated as a possible education secretary in The New York Times and in the op-ed pages of The Washington Post.

One such petition, which so far has garnered more than 2,110 signatures, was started by Duane Campbell, a Sacramento, Calif.-based blogger who writes about public schools. It criticizes Mr. Klein for not working with teachers in crafting policy for the 1.1-million-student district.

“While focusing on test scores, he has consistently ignored the crisis of overcrowding in New York schools,” the petition says. “Thousands of children are being given special services in hallways or in closets.”

The other is put forth by a national coalition called Teacher Activist Groups. The coalition says it would oppose not only the appointment of Mr. Klein but also Arne Duncan, the chief executive officer of the Chicago school system, who has also been mentioned as a possible secretary. In the coalition’s view, Mr. Duncan, like Mr. Klein, has “demonstrated [his] vision of privatized, corporatized, and anti-democratic schools.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 19, 2008 edition of Education Week

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