Linda Darling-Hammond, a progressive educator close to Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, and George Soros, will be a keynote speaker at an upcoming educators conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. She will be speaking on “The Future of Public Education.” Watch for themes supportive of “social justice”, “equity” (socialized redistribution of wealth), and “democracy,” and critical of standardized tests, pay-for-performance, and charter schools.
Why does it matter to Utah parents? Besides the fact that most Utah residents are opposed to socialized redistribution of wealth, Linda Darling-Hammond, along with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) she leads, have been chosen by the Utah State Office of Education to rework the math portion of Utah’s standardized tests.
SBAC and Darling-Hammond are vigorous proponents of so-called “constructed response” and “open-ended” assessment types—the kind of assessments used in the controversial “Investigations” math program. (Investigations-style math has been rejected in Utah, California, Washington, D.C., Illinois, New York, numerous other states, as well as by the 100,000 member National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “Open-ended” and “constructed response” test items for math assessments, while praised by Darling-Hammond, were roundly rejected in Kentucky in 2009.)
Darling-Hammond’s involvement with Utah’s math standards is a deep concern to BYU math professor David Wright, who helped write Utah’s new, more rigorous math standards. Warns Wright: “we should avoid the controversial assessment system proposed by Darling-Hammond and instead choose assessments that will be objectively scored.”
For interested observers, here is more information on who Darling-Hammond is, and what she is about:
Partial Book List:
- Learning to Teach for Social Justice (2002)
- Chapter in Bill Ayers’ book A Light in Dark Times
- Chapter in John Goodlad’s 1996 book The Public Purpose of Education and Schooling
- From Inequality to Quality: Reviving Our Public Schools (2010)
- The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future (2009)
Philosophies, Politics & Policies
- Former head of Obama presidential transition policy team on Education.
- Endorsed by Bill Ayers (but not chosen) as Obama’s Secretary of Education.
- Part of liberal “Changemaker” network, comprised of “leading voices for social change.”
- Her org, Forum for Education and Democracy, is funded by George Soros and other progressive activist individuals & groups including Justice Matters (supports Teachers4SocialJustice “network of progressive educators”addressing homophobia, racism, etc.), and Daniel Leeds, a Democratic Party fundraiser and Center for American Progress Trustee
- Her org, School Redesign Network, is funded by San Francisco School Alliance, etc.
- Appointed to governing council of liberal/progressive education group AERA in 2006 (Bill Ayers is/was VP of curriculum studies of AERA)
- Subscribes to Economic Policy Institute’s “Bold Approach.”
Darling-Hammond frequently lauds the June Jordan School for Social Equity, serving low-income, at-risk students in San Francisco Unified School District. Says Darling-Hammond: “The school illustrates the power of educators and communities working together with access to knowledge about successful practice that supports innovation.” Here are some details about the school:
- Curriculum: Centered on “social justice issues” (see JJSE Web site), including English courses entitled “Immigration and Assimilation”, “Banned Books”, and constructivist “Literature Circles” (students choose their own reading material and discuss in small groups)
- Grading: Students submit yearly “portfolios” of their work. San Francisco Unified School District does not recognize JJSE’s performance assessment system.
- Student results (graduating students):
- Math: 94% fail to meet state standards
- Language Arts: 78% fail to meet state standards
- Science: 88% fail to meet state standards
- History/Social Science: 95% fail to meet state standards
(Data from San Francisco Unified School District School Accountability Report Card for the year 2008-2009)
The JJSE Web site claims an 81% college placement rate. Neither Darling-Hammond, nor the JJSE site say what percent of graduates take remedial math & remedial English in college.
“Worst Performing” School
Darling-Hammond’s record as an educator includes a charter school she created and oversaw–one that is now closed to K-4 students. The New York Times reported that in April 2010 Darling-Hammond’s “New Schools” was denied a 5-year extension of its charter after several members of the school board determined the school to be a “persistently worst-performing school.” A later decision allowed grades 5-12 to continue for a provisional 2-year extension, with modifications to the charter. Grades K-4 were closed permanently.