From guest blogger David J. Hoff: Russo and Petrilli have beat us to the punch on Democrats for Education Reform's slate to take over the U.S. Department of Education. Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan, their pick for secretary of education, isn't surprising. His name surfaced as far back as June—thanks to eduwonk. But the reason DFER is pushing for Duncan is interesting. Here's an excerpt from the memo: In his seven years at the head of the nation’s 3rd largest school district, Chicago Public Schools has demonstrated sustained improvements in student achievement, graduation rates, and college-going rates....

When U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings addressed the Council of Chief State School Officers on Friday, she joked that she “brought the keys to the department in case there [could] be a pass off right now.” She was alluding to the myriad of names being bandied about for job of education secretary, although I haven’t heard any current education chiefs as leading contenders. Spellings helped kick off the first day of the conference in Austin, Texas, and President-elect Barack Obama’s ed transition pooh-bah (I’m not sure what her official title is) Linda Darling-Hammond ended it. ...

Actually, a couple groups have already beaten you to it. One group of petitioners is trying to get Sen. Barack Obama to appoint Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford education professor and one of Obama's campaign advisers as secretary of education. The group says it seeks "a truly progressive public education system" and "that Dr. Darling-Hammond is a key ingredient to achieving such a system." Darling-Hammond has done extensive research on leadership and teacher professional development. She is a champion of teacher residency programs, which allow prospective educators to get beefed-up field experiences while earning teacher certification or a master's degree. So ...

My colleague, Erik Robelen, was in Seattle yesterday covering the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's new strategy for revamping its high school reform strategy. After the formal speeches, the Gates team gathered on stage for some Q-and-A from the high-powered audience, which included the likes of Washington, D.C., schools chief Michelle Rhee and Michael Cohen from Achieve. Robelen offered up a transcript of Bill Gates' answer to a question about marshalling political and public will to accomplish a new reform agenda. His answer is long and meandering, but worth reading. Take note that when Gates talks about the education ...

Just because a person's name appears in the press doesn't mean he or she is actually a candidate, or even wants the job.

Transition team director John Podesta's think tank, the Center for American Progress, has weighed in on NCLB on the past, generally on the side of the pro-strong federal accountability.

The Times cites the New York City public school system chancellor's close ties to the Obama family and its advisers, but points out the rocky relationship Klein had with the AFT's Randi Weingarten.

That might be great news for districts with decaying school facilities. Congressional leaders have expressed interest in including money for school construction in an economic-stimulus plan.

The president-elect attends parent-teacher conferences and hires a friend of charter schools to be his top staffer.

Everyone is guessing who the next secretary of education will be. But one blogger has a useful reminder: Other positions may not be as high-profile, but they could be just as important.

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