January 28, 2009

Conspiracy Debunking 101

So rumors are flying that Linda Darling-Hammond may become Deputy Secretary of Education and World Destruction, and that the Senate is Stripping Glory from the Stimulus. Before anyone gets their hair too much out of place on speculation of appointments, legislation, and little green beings that are just about to swoop down on 400 Maryland Ave. and "Oprah"--well, apart from Rod Blagojevich, whose mop isn't remotely green--let me repeat a few words of caution and maybe even wisdom from a long-term perspective:

  • Facial plausibility for your speculation does not make it true, even if it could explain a number of observations. Check that speculation by looking for alternative hypotheses and discomfirming evidence.
  • The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend, and two of your adversaries are not BFF just because of their real or imagined adversarial relationship to you. (Google "exaggerated self-reference.") They are human beings, and their relationship is probably as complex as you think it simple. Some day I need to find time to explain why liberals in teachers unions aren't always going to agree with liberals in colleges of education, but just trust me on this one for now.
  • Rome was not destroyed in a day. Apparently the conference committee took a few hundred years.

From all this back-and-forth about oh no! Linda Darling-Hammond--oh no! Andrew Rotherham--oh, no! Linda Darling-Hammond--oh, no! Darth Vader and the E Street Band--I feel like I'm back in middle school and am just waiting for someone to walk by and sneer, "take a chill pill" (a clause I last heard spoken aloud when I was in high school). The common-sense analysis I laid out the day after the election is generally panning out (but with a few exceptions that I'm learning from): the hard issues are still there, and I don't think anyone is going to be rolled on them in a major way in the stimulus.

Furthermore, the cabinet and sub-cabinet appointments in the Lesser Agencies have a pretty good incentive not to be high-handed: those who are appointed can be dumped, and I suspect that is most likely in this administration for violating the No Drama Obama Unless You're Rahm Rule. You know--Work Hard. Be Nice. I know I've heard that somewhere...

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Tags: Andrew Rotherham, Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, Linda Darling-Hammond
Posted in Education policy on January 28, 2009 12:20 AM |