Linda Darling-Hammond has been one of the key advocates for education for much of her career. She has taught students, testified in front of Congresses at the state and national level, and was an adviser to President Barack Obama during his first campaign and the early days of his presidency. Now she teaches education itself at Stanford, but she sees a need for wider education and examination in the field, and seeks to fill it.
“It is time to get serious about how to support and enable our education system to respond to the massive changes in learning that some other nation’s systems have been addressing more systemically, with much better results, over the last two decades,” Darling-Hammond wrote in the Huffington Post recently.
To those ends, she is initiating a new think tank. The Learning Policy Institute will focus on becoming a bridge between teachers and policy-makers, two groups notorious for being blind to one another’s needs. While Darling-Hammond has always been seen as an ally of teacher’s unions, she says the think-tank will be strictly nonpartisan and will “follow the evidence wherever it leads, and will work with those of any political affiliation or point of view who share that commitment.”
The Learning Policy Institute, with Darling-Hammond as president, will do its own research as well as investigate the research of others. Its starting budget is a paltry $5 million, and it expects to hire between 30 and 50 staff at its offices in California and Washington.
Darling-Hammond, who has spoken at length about this nation’s “aggressive neglect” of school children, intends that LPI will examine most critically the links between child poverty and educational inequity, which she cites as the single most influential reason for the poor performance of US students at an international level.
Her desired result is that the Learning Policy Institute becomes a powerful voice of advocacy for educational needs that will be tapped at need by policy-makers and help to shape the future of all legislation for schools.