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Education reform expert joins Stanford faculty

The Stanford University School of Education has named Linda Darling-Hammond the new Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Teaching and Teacher Education. She comes to Stanford from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she was William F. Russell Professor in the Foundations of Education, co-director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching, and executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future.

"We are delighted to have a person of Linda's caliber reconceptualizing SUSE's position regarding teacher policy, professionalism and training, including our expanded role for the teacher education program," said Richard J. Shavelson, dean of the School of Education. "Her arrival is going to make a difference to hundreds of local educators and will be a significant boon to the school reform community."

Darling-Hammond's research focuses on issues of school restructuring, teacher education reform and the enhancement of educational equity. In addition to her work with the Stanford Teacher Education Program, known as STEP, she will teach courses on teaching and teacher education as well as education policy, and work with Bay Area school reform efforts and teacher development programs. Darling-Hammond also plans to organize a series of workshops, institutes and peer coaching resources to help meet the needs of Bay Area teachers as they work with increasingly diverse populations.

Although teaching is considered by many to be a low-status field, Darling-Hammond believes that it is the profession on which all other professions are based. Teaching standards and strong teacher education programs are critically important for the future of education, she says. "If all students are to succeed, teachers must have a solid base of knowledge in their content area, as well as intensive preparation in how people learn and develop and how to teach effectively."

The fact that California issued 20,000 emergency teaching certificates last year indicates that the state's teachers are underprepared, Darling-Hammond says. "Most states pay more attention to veterinary training for the people who treat our cats and dogs than to teacher training for the people who educate our children and youth," she noted in a report she authored for the National Commission on Teaching.

As a society, she said, "we have been willing to tolerate incompetent teachers if they are teaching black and brown children in the cities, but not in the wealthy suburbs. If we want to survive as a democracy in a knowledge-based economy, we can no longer allow the quality of any child's teachers to be a matter of chance."

Darling-Hammond earned her undergraduate degree from Yale in 1973 and her doctorate in urban education from Temple University in 1978. She began her career as a public school teacher and was co-founder of a preschool and day care center. Before joining the Teachers College faculty in 1989, she was senior social scientist and director of the RAND Corporation's Education and Human Resources Program.

She is the author of seven books, including The Right to Learn: A Blueprint for School Reform; Professional Development Schools: Schools for Developing a Profession; A License to Teach: Building a Profession for 21st Century Schools; and Authentic Assessment in Action.

The Charles E. Ducommun Professorship was established in 1989 with a gift from Charles Ducommun, who served on Stanford's Board of Trustees from 1961 to 1971. Ducommun, a Los Angeles civic leader who earned an undergraduate degree in economics from Stanford in 1935, died in 1991.


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