What Linda Darling-Hammond said!


Frankly, we don’t get it: Over Christmas, we were surprised by several statements from leading “educational experts.”

One such expert was Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who guested on Morning Edition. Early on, tape was played in which she said this:
GREENE (12/26/13): This is Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

The United States has spent a decade trying to improve the standing of its schools compared to the rest of the world. Education researcher Linda Darling-Hammond says the result is disappointing.

DARLING-HAMMOND: We're actually not doing any better than we were doing a decade ago. In fact, the PISA tests, the international assessments, just came out a couple of weeks ago, and basically the story for the United States over the last decade or more is flat-line.
Why would Darling-Hammond say that? Granted, Greene was playing tape from an earlier interview, and tape can be taken out of context.

That said, Diane Ravitch made a similar gloomy statement when the new PISA scores emerged. Why would progressives say that?

With respect to Darling-Hammond, we became even more puzzled later in the Morning Edition segment. Steve Inskeep had done the interview which Greene introduced:
INSKEEP: You know, there's a lot of fear in this country some years ago that schools—particularly public schools—were failing. That's why a lot of education reforms have been passed.

You have now raised concerns about the reforms themselves. I wonder if you feel, at this moment, that schools are failing.

DARLING-HAMMOND: Well, you know, in general, our schools do better with the challenges they have to face than I think is true of most high-achieving nations around the world. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty, mortality, lack of health care, homelessness of any developed country in the world at this point. And we have unequal funding, so that we give more money to the education of rich kids than poor kids.

So our affluent districts in schools do quite well, and are still the envy of many in the world. Our low-income schools and districts are struggling with all these responsibilities and challenges and very little and inadequate public support. And yet, they perform extraordinarily well, given the circumstances they have to meet.
Those statements are much more upbeat than anything we would say. So why would she take the gloomy “flat-line” approach to the new PISA scores?

In that quote from the top of the show, she seemed to say “we’re not doing any better than a decade ago” as an absolute statement. We don’t get why she would say that.

On balance, our most reliable test scores show substantial improvement in the past “decade or more.” As with Ravitch, so with Darling-Hammond:

We were puzzled by the way she adopted the “flat-line” script.

Tomorrow: What Randi Weingarten said


  1. "Christie Aide: 'Time for Some Traffic Problems'"


    Nothing to see here folks.

    1. The email was sent a month before the actual closure. It makes sense as retribution only if it is timed to coincide with the refusal to endorse Christie. It makes sense as a go-ahead to carry out a potential traffic study as well, absent the context of political payback. Someone might send an email to CalTrans about planned construction on the 405 saying "Time to cause some traffic problems in West LA" without any political intent. Depends on context. Her job title is intergovernmental affairs, with outreach to govts at all levels.

      Also, still no link to Christie. If you want to know whether he is a bully, just look at that picture of him shaking his finger in a teacher's face for daring to ask him a question. Most of us here are not Republicans and wouldn't be voting for him whether this is a real scandal or not. If the left wants to malign Christie, I'm all for it -- just use real issues to do so, not concocted ones (tenuous connections, ambiguous evidence, guilt by association, etc).

    2. It's a darn shame that you must go through life not understanding that there's a difference between criticizing the hyping an upcoming news segment when there's no new information, from saying that there will NEVER be any new information.

      I know that would be a too subtle distinction for you to make even if you weren't someone who considered any such concern the equivalent of referencing Amy Vanderbilt during a knife fight.

    3. Loser, guess what? The volume of traffic on the bridge has nothing to do with this story. Traffic across the bridge was not affected, only access to the bridge from the town of Fort Lee.

      This time-killing, exciting diversion tells you nothing about the substance of this currently pointless story.

    4. Anonymous 1:13

      Are you children of Christie voters?

    5. Cecelia I don't understand the Amy Vanderbilt reference.

    6. That's because you never went to a finishing school run by an old lady.

    7. True. I went to a Finnish school run by a saint straight out of central casting.

    8. I used the term "finishing school" loosely. She was the only one around who had two complete sets of sterling flatware.

    9. I used the term Finnish school miraculously. And it was the priest from whom I stole the flatware who was the saint.

    10. I had hoped it was Ingrid Bergman.

  2. Excellent analysis. Thanks for not getting it either. Write again when you do. Maybe if we all get it we'll laugh.