Education

Linda Darling-Hammond wins major prize for her education research and its impact

Credit: Learning Policy Institute

Linda Darling-Hammond speaks at a conference of the EdPrepLab in 2019.

State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor emeritus at Stanford University who founded the Learning Policy Institute in Palo Alto and Washington, D.C., is this year’s co-recipient of the Yidan Prize.

The 6-year-old prize is one of the world’s most prestigious and certainly its most lucrative award for education research. Recipients receive $3.9 million, half as a personal award and half to scale up their work. Darling-Hammond will use her funding to broaden Educator Preparatory Lab, a new initiative of the Learning Policy Institute and the Bank Street Graduate School in New York City. Its mission is to strengthen educator preparation in the United States through research, networking and collaboration among ed prep programs, school districts and state and federal policymakers.

“I feel very grateful to be recognized. It was an enormous surprise,” Darling-Hammond said Wednesday. “It’s wonderful that the prize chose to lift up and recognize  the importance of an equity agenda and investing in teachers, which I have been working on for decades and that people need to pay attention to.  The prize will provide an opportunity to further lean in on these issues.”

 The Yidan Prize Foundation, a Hong-Kong based philanthropy founded by Charles Chen Yidan, announced this year’s awards Wednesday at the end of an education conference the foundation co-hosted with the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Darling-Hammond received the prize for education research. Yongxin Zhu, a professor of education at Soochow University, received the prize for education development for his work in transforming learning outcomes in China.

 Darling-Hammond is recognized as one of the most influential educators in the U.S. through her ability to bridge the often separate worlds of research and policy.

 “It’s really impossible to overstate the impact that Linda has had on education policy over the past few decades. Unlike most academics, she has always been willing to work closely with politicians and policymakers to improve the lives of teachers and children,” said David Plank, a former Stanford colleague and retired executive director of PACE, an education research and policy organization based at Stanford. “Her leadership on the State Board (of Education) and at LPI continues to guide policy debates both nationally and here in California. You can see her influence almost anywhere you look.”

 Darling-Hammond is past president of the American Educational Research Association and recipient of its awards for distinguished contributions to research and lifetime achievement. Among her more than 600 publications are a number of noteworthy books, including “The Right to Learn,” “Preparing Teachers for a Changing World” and “The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment will Determine our Future.”

 After retiring from Stanford, Darling-Hammond founded the Learning Policy Institute, of which she remains CEO and president. The institute advances research through reports, conferences and blogs covering a broad range of topics. These include early childhood education, educator diversity, racial equity, school finance, teacher recruitment and retention and social and emotional learning.

“With an unwavering drive to see every learner reach their full potential, regardless of social background, gender and geography, Linda has spent her life building research tools that support policy and practice to create better and fairer educational opportunities. Her influence on public policy has helped policy architects shape positive changes for children on a large scale,” said Andreas Schleicher, head of the Yidan Prize for education research judging panel, in announcing the award.

Darling-Hammond directed the education policy transition team for President Barack Obama in 2008 and for President Joe Biden in 2020. In California, she has helped shape education policies as chair of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing under Gov. Jerry Brown and currently as president of the state board under Gov. Gavin Newsom. Newsom incorporated her priorities — extensive funding for teacher residencies, expanded after-school and summer opportunities for all low-income schools and a $4 billion community schools initiative — in recent state budgets.

 Darling-Hammond was instrumental in launching the EdPrepLab, which the Yidan Prize will help fund, in June 2019. It provides guidance and model practices for states and teacher preparation programs in areas such as teacher residencies, the science of learning and development, and social and emotional learning.  High Tech High Teacher Center, Berkeley Graduate School of Education and UCLA Center X are among the initial 14 network members.

Last year’s Yidan Prize recipient is also a Stanford University scholar, Eric Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.  He is using his funding to set up the Yidan African Fellows Program, a network of policy fellows working to improve education decision-making across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Linda Darling-Hammond wins major prize for her education research and its impact


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