Bill Ayers’ influence on the incoming Obama administration has quite likely made itself felt for the first time. The campaign today announced the appointment of Linda Darling-Hammond as head of the Presidential transition policy team on Education.
Ayers played a significant role in the recruitment of Darling-Hammond as an advisor to the Obama campaign, Global Labor learned from an individual who played a senior role in the campaign, and that likely helped cement her latest appointment.
Darling-Hammond professes to be unaware of Ayers’ role. When I first blogged on Ayers relationship with Obama several months ago, she wrote to me that “Bill Ayers has no connection to the Obama campaign or to Obama’s policy proposals in education or any other area.”
After I received this communication from Professor Darling-Hammond I learned that Bill Ayers long time side kick in education policy, Mike Klonsky, an openly stalinist activist in SDS and later the leader of a maoist sect, was a blogger on the Obama Campaign website on education policy and “social justice teaching.” I discussed his blogging on Global Labor and within a few hours, his blog was shut down by the Obama campaign.
Darling-Hammond is a prominent and widely respected, though controversial, Professor of Education at Stanford. She shares with Ayers
long time support for what I consider an authoritarian and ideological approach to education that includes advocacy of “social justice” teaching (not to be confused with support for social justice itself, mind you) and so-called “small schools.”
Ayers and Darling-Hammond share a deeply held view that race is critical to explaining problems in education. Darling-Hammond has argued that American schools resemble those under South African apartheid, where discrimination was mandated by a racist white government. Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn believe “white supremacy” controls much of what happens in American life. How they square this argument with the election of their “family friend,” Barack Obama is not clear.
Ayers has also endorsed Darling-Hammond’s call for whites to repay the “education debt” to people of color that has allegedly accumulated for centuries. Darling-Hammond said that repayment of the “education debt” should be the top priority of the next President. She contributed a chapter to a book edited by Ayers called “Education for Democracy.”
While many attempted to dismiss the reports of deep ties between Obama and Ayers during the campaign, the shared agenda for education policy among Ayers, Obama and Darling-Hammond, when put together with the many years of joint work together in education policy shared by Obama and Ayers, it is clear that Ayers has been a significant force in the President-elect’s approach to this crucial issue.
Darling-Hammond and University of Wisconsin education professor Gloria Ladson-Billings also work together including a project on education based at Stanford. Ladson-Billings is credited as the inspiration for the “repayment by whites of the education debt owed to people of color” proposal made by Darling-Hammond.
A chapter co-authored by Ladson-Billings on “racing justice” appeared in a book co-edited by Ayers called Teaching for Social Justice: A Democracy and Education Reader. Ladson-Billings wrote the foreword to Ayers’ book, To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher. Ayers and Ladson-Billings are co-editors of City Kids, City Schools: More Reports from the Front Row just published. Ladson-Billings contributed a chapter in a book edited by Bill Ayers, Rick Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and Jesse L. Jackson called Zero Tolerance: Resisting the Drive for Punishment published in 2001.