Education and the Obama Presidency

Harvard Educational Review
Vol. 79, Number 2, Summer 2009

There are fever swamps on the left, too, and when it comes to education they appear to drain into the editorial offices of the Harvard Educational Review. I don't think you really want to read this special issue--400 pages worth--of that once-illustrious journal but you may want to know that it exists. With entries from 27 students (from 2nd grade on up) and 20 more-or-less-grown-ups (a mix of practitioners and scholars), it mostly views Barack Obama in messianic if not divine terms. (One item is even titled "Obama, Where Art Thou?") But it's a whole lot more skeptical about his education policies and, in particular, about his choice of Arne Duncan, who is seen by multiple authors as deeply suspect because of his commitment to standards, tests, and results-based accountability. (They regard such things as antithetical to "social justice.") The editors rounded up a lot of the usual suspects--Henry Giroux, Maxine Greene, even FOB Bill Ayers--as contributors, and many of their contributions throb with passion, self-righteousness, and a deep aversion to almost every important education reform innovation of the past half century. The one worthwhile exception is a longish piece by Linda Darling-Hammond, who headed the Obama education-policy-transition team, and who does a praiseworthy job of explaining where the President is "coming from" with regard to education issues. But I'd encourage you to skip the rest! (If you cannot resist, it's available here.)

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