While the Bush Department of Education was deservedly pummeled for having little use for those who questioned its agenda or actions, it has been fascinating to see that the Obama education team (for all its talk of moving beyond partisan divides) has proven every bit as insular. The leadership seems to find plenty of time for major foundations and sycophantic associations, but has shown little inclination to reach out to researchers, educators, or reformers who might challenge their assumptions and help sharpen their thinking.
One of the things that impressed me most about Obama is that he seemed like a genuinely smart, thoughtful guy. Somehow I still think he is, but that he made a mistake hiring a dunce for his secretary of education who really should be fired for all the deep doo-doo he's gottten the Prez into over stupid stuff at a time when the Prez really doesn't need such distraction. I mean, if Dunc can't even stage his boss to give a nice little talk to schoolkids without drawing fire, what sort of circus can we expect when NCLB renewal comes around? Duncan apparently led a very sheltered life there in Chicago with his protector mayor, and it's becoming increasingly clear that he just weren't ready for prime time.
And kudos, Mr. Hess.