Despite rumors to the contrary, Linda Darling-Hammond, a controversial figure in the education world, will not be taking any positions in the Obama administration. Patrick Riccards, CEO of Exemplar Strategic Communications and an education insider, confirmed to me today that Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor, has e-mailed him to say she won't be working at the Department of Education for legitimate family reasons. "I wanted to let you know that several things have converged in the last two weeks to persuade me to stay in California and support the President's agenda from here. Several funders have indicated they want to make major investments in a new Policy Center I was just beginning to get off the ground at Stanford when I left to work on the transition," she wrote in the e-mail, obtained by TNR. "With everything she's done with the Obama campaign and everything she's done with the transition, she had a great pull to help with the work, but she was needed in California," Riccards told me.
Darling-Hammond was a key education adviser during the election and chaired Obama's transition education policy team. She has been berated heavily by the education reform community, which views her as favoring the status quo in Democratic education policy for her criticisms of alternative teacher certification programs like Teach for America and her ties with teachers' unions. A seeming frontrunner for the deputy position at the education department, Darling-Hammond had reportedly been making the rounds in D.C. in recent weeks, meeting with education experts as though preparing for a leadership position. Several reformers had indicated in interviews that having Darling-Hammond in the second-in-command role would symbolically, and possibly substantively, undermine Obama's credentials as an education change-agent.
As for who will get the deputy slot, there's no clear answer at this point. "You could throw a dart against the wall," says Riccards. "They have a lot of people they're talking about. ... And that's one reason [Darling-Hammond] wanted to start letting people know today, because she didn't want her name to continue to swirl around."