Posts tagged "Children First"
November 10, 2010
When NBC New York broke the story that Joel Klein was about to resign yesterday, the news organization’s report summarized his tenure this way:
He is credited with ending the practice of social promotion but had a somewhat controversial reputation throughout his tenure.
The rest of the description closely mirrored Klein’s curiously incomplete Wikipedia entry, which highlights a 2005 First Amendment spat over a teacher training lecturer as a main feature of his chancellorship.
Wikipedia, use this instead: Klein brought a penchant for radical transformation to the New York City public schools, redrawing the basics of how schools are run, opening hundreds of new schools and closing dozens of others, and reeling in millions of new dollars in new funding.
His constant rallying cry — that improving public schools required erasing much of the existing cultures and structures, and that this project was the next frontier of the civil rights movement — inspired dozens of young, bright-eyed bureaucrats and teachers. But the same stance alienated many more educators and parents, who found his dismissal of past efforts at change disrespectful and a sign of his limited experience with the business of instruction.
The chancellor oversaw real improvements in the schools — at least of the sort by which he judged himself: concrete numbers. Handpicked by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2002, Klein took the reins of a school system that, by any measure, was not serving its students. Test scores were low. School crime was seen as a major problem. Just 44 percent of students graduated from high school in four years.
Now, as he moves into a new position at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, Klein leaves behind a system where more than half — and as many as 60 percent — of students graduate on time, and where state test scores are inching upward. But he also leaves behind questions about how much true learning is reflected by those metrics — and about whether his organizational changes left more collateral damage than benefits.
Here is a short(-ish) history of Klein’s eight-year tenure. (more…)
October 1, 2008
Three years ago, Mayor Bloomberg said his 20-point margin of victory in his reelection campaign showed that New Yorkers were happy with his schools leadership. Next year, voters could have a chance to reaffirm that choice — or reverse it.
Tomorrow, Bloomberg will announce plans to run for a third term, despite the two-term limit imposed by voters 15 years ago. Although polls indicate that the public isn’t happy about the mayor’s bid to use the City Council to overturn democratically imposed term limits, they also show that he is popular enough to coast into office for a third term.
What would a third Bloomberg term mean for the city’s schools? Judging from Bloomberg’s attitude when he was reelected in 2005, he will interpret a win at the polls as voter approval of his education initiatives, regardless of what issues New Yorkers actually consider when casting their ballots. His reelection would be a disappointment to his critics, some of whom have already started counting down the days until the end of his term. But it would provide stability for principals and students in schools that have only recently found their feet after the most recent round of disruptive reorganizations. Consistency in the DOE could also generate data that’s desperately needed to evaluate the city’s recent school reforms.
Four more years of Bloomberg would mean four more years of Children First initiatives and four more years of Chancellor Klein, who has long said that he will continue to lead the city’s schools as long as the mayor asks him to. A third Bloomberg term would likely herald four more years of business-style, accountability-driven reforms and ambitious experiments, such as the pay-for-performance incentives program organized by Harvard professor Roland Fryer. And, unless the State Assembly mandates parent involvement or checks and balances on the mayor’s power in June when it must consider the 2002 law that gave control over the city’s schools to the mayor, we’re likely to see four more years of top-down education reform that doesn’t include parents, teachers, or students in the decision-making process.