November 22, 2008

Keeping it on full boil

Just for the record, the commenting is winding down over at the NY Times post about how New Yorkers feel about Joel Klein becoming the Secretary of Education in the Obama administration.

Which doesn't mean I have to wind down, because BloomKlein's values are so base and I'm so unconvinced that what they favor and how they go about installing their agenda are so bad for the city that we can't afford to put this issue onto the back burner.

37 of the 44 comments over at that post are anti-Klein, most to the max. As for the other 7, not much in there either: 1 just asked for information, 2 couldn't care less, and 2 others hate public education altogether. I guess those people have a choice where to send their kids to school. Two were actually favorable, one of which I left in for a good laugh (#40).

1. November 10, 2008 4:07 pm
Quote from Mr. Klein’s Press Secretary: “Along the way he’s angered adults with entrenched interests in policies that have never worked.”
I am a 70-year-old adult who has never had children, have never been a teacher, did not attend the New York City school system, and therefore I have no “entrenched interests” of any sort.
I am APPALLED by the mess Mr. Klein has made of education in New York City.
— cynthia

2. [asks for information]

3. November 10, 2008 4:21 pm
Mr. Klein has failed public education in too many ways: He is obligated to a corrupt and disasterous high stakes test machine that has made our schools absent of learning, soul or life. He is in service to Mayor Bloomberg’s governing philosophy of “screw the public first.” They as policy view parents and students- the client- as in the way. Worse, NYC schools have not improved one iota during his tenure. He runs an expert-less, management first enterprise that scoffs at educators, insults parents and looks at children as data creating subjects. President-elect Obama- select an educator first!
— mitchell

4. November 10, 2008 4:47 pm
A really nasty person
Wants to rid the system of all teachers with experience and replace them with new cheaper teachers.
Paying for results is just a way to show better results. Telling Principal’s to drive teachers who give proper grades a hard time. If no resluts then you are out. So what do many do? They just pass students. An alcoholic teacher who sleeps in class but passes all students is considered satisfactory and one who works hard in every way angive fair grades is considered unsatisfactory. It’s a reign of terror.
Please get someone else and please investigate Klein
— bob

5. November 10, 2008 4:50 pm
I don’t see how Klein is worse than any other education official. The fundamental failure of school systems, all over the USA, is that kids don’t learn to read, write, calculate, and think.
Education is NOT effective in a democratic process. Of course parents should have input, but wasting billions of dollars on PTAs, sports, and other fluff is a problem. Schools should be run more like universities, where trained educators create curricula and organize classrooms. Biologists should create biology curricula, chemists should create chemistry curricula, historians should create history curricula, etc., etc.
— Rick

6. November 10, 2008 5:27 pm
In response to David Cantor’s comment that “The chancellor has spent the last six years building a school system focused on the needs of kids. Along the way he’s angered adults with entrenched interests in policies that have never worked,” I would respond that he’s antagonized parents who care about their children’s education and teachers who care about teaching. For him to call parents “adults with entrenched interests” is surely the most blatant example of projection I’ve ever read!
As for Rick, for him to say that billions of dollars are wasted on PTAs, which raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for schools that are inadequately funded by government, shows that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
— Ellen

7. November 10, 2008 5:42 pm
Joel Klein, like his boss, Mayor Bloomberg, is virulently anti-union. For example, a few years ago he unilaterally denied almost all his teachers sabbaticals that they were entitled to under their collective bargaining agreement.
— Bob

8. November 10, 2008 6:02 pm
In response to David Cantor’s comment:
The Chancellor has spent six years focused on building a system defined by the policy ideas of the Gates Foundation, Broad Foundation, Dell Foundation and many wealthy New Yorkers like Caroline Kennedy and Courtney Ross who would never send their own kids to public school yet have no qualms about dictating how my kids should be educated.
And to dismiss parents who care about smaller classes, arts education and shielding their kids from Klein’s relentless bludgeon of standardized testing as “entrenched interests” is despicable.
It should be obvious to all why a Klein role in the Obama administration is a non-starter. Let’s focus on changes to mayoral control of our schools and the next mayoral election to bring an end to this.
— Patrick J. Sullivan

9. November 10, 2008 6:11 pm
Klein is NOT the man. It’s strange that a job of such importance is given to ‘politicians and those politically connected, instead of someone in either of those categories with true experience as an educator and leader.
When Secretary Spellings was appointed, both the Dems and Repubs applauded this decision, but her tenure has been a complete disaster. She simply sought to push rules on the K-16 community with real engagement or understanding.
We need a leader who has true experience, exposure, and knowledge of education. At some level, that should include some time spent as a teacher/professor as well as managerial experience. Not just “business” leaders/policy analysts that think they can just swoop down and make everything “right”. It hasn’t worked in Washington, and we all know that it hasn’t worked in NYC.
— Xilla

10. November 10, 2008 6:30 pm
This letter has been signed by a hundred New York City parents since Friday night:
Dear President-elect Obama,
First of all let us congratulate you on your election. Many of us worked ardently to advance your cause, and today we celebrate the bright and hopeful years before us under your leadership.
We write now as parents in the New York City public school system. We would like to urge in the strongest terms that you select a Secretary for Education with deep practical experience in teaching and learning. We feel that there is a fashion now for placing school reform in the hands of leaders outside the field. In our experience in New York this trend is catastrophic; in our view the administration of Chancellor Joel Klein has disastrously neglected the fundamental needs of children. To lead in education one must understand something about children, about human development, about the history of successes and failures in pedagogy.
Please appoint an experienced educator, a person close to the lives of children, to lead our nation’s education system.
Yours sincerely,
[see for a list of names]
— Ann Kjellberg

11. November 10, 2008 7:03 pm
If you think having a typical kid in the NYC system is difficult, try having a Special Ed kid. You are treated like a criminal by the Board of Ed who makes it as tough as they can for you to get these kids an appropriate(non-existent)education. The money spent on endless paper shuffling and legal battles would be better spent ridding the Board of Ed of dead wood and overhauling an archaic system that fails this population. The idea Joel Klein is even being considered as an Education Secretary is horrifying.
— luci p.

12. November 10, 2008 7:03 pm
Joel Klein has drawn the ire of teachers and parents alike.”
That in itself is high praise.
— Jim from Brooklyn

13. November 10, 2008 7:28 pm
As much as I’ve been angered by Mr. Klein, there may be one bright spot should he become Secretary of Education: We will, at last, get rid of him in New York.
— Carol

14. [couldn't care less, doesn't want taxes going to pubic education]

15. November 10, 2008 7:34 pm
I am the mother of 11-year old twins who have been in the New York City public school system since kindergarten, all under Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
While I would gladly see him leave, I protest as strongly as possible his appointment as Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration.
Chancellor Klein has proven himself to be an autocratic bully, surrounded by people who agree with everything he does because they know their jobs are on the line.
He does not care what parents think and does not seem to believe that parents should have a say in their children’s education. He pontificates at hearings then walks out without listening to parents’ responses.
Klein talks a lot about “transparency” in the schools, but his Department of Education is the least transparent in City government.
Klein is committed to the discredited theory that the only measure of a child’s achievement is the the score on standardized tests. This is despite the extensive research in education that points to the fact that standardized tests “dumb down” a curriculum.
The Chancellor uses the 3rd, 5th and 7th grade tests as requirements for promotion — when the test designers themselves have warned that these tests should NOT be used for this purpose.
Testing and other data collection activity is extolled by Klein as a means towards accountability — yet his own office is not accountable to the parents, children, or teachers. Klein sits in judgment on principals, teachers, and children — but he has not created a mechanism through which he and the department can be judged in turn — for good reason: he has failed.
The Chancellor has also proven himself to be an extremely poor administrator of public funds. He has wasted millions of dollars on a data tracking computer system that not only does not work, but is not appropriate for a school system. He spent extravagant sums on importing consultants from Britain to administer a “quality review” of every school, consultants discredited in Britain itself.
New Yorkers were justly in an uproar last year when Klein’s expensive consultants cut bus service — and thousands of children were left standing on street corners in the cold. From Klein, no apologies, and the system remains in disarray.
Over the years of Joel Klein’s administration, we have seen trained, credentialed educators forced out of his department. It is now filled with lawyers and businessmen whose only experience with pedagogy occurred when they were in school 30 years ago.
Education is not a business. Each year that a child spends in school is his or her one chance to “get it”. If an 8-year old spends a year in 3rd grade being taught how to take a test, and the next year it’s decided that the test was faulty, that child’s loss is forever. Under Klein too many children have lost too many precious years.
America needs a Secretary of Education who is an educator, a listener, and a person who understands that our children are not a collection of data, but the future of our country.
That person is decidedly NOT Joel Klein.
— Linda Levy

16. November 10, 2008 7:41 pm
Mr. Klein is a walking disaster,
Of mismanagement a past master,
Has the wit and the charm
Of a piranha farm,
A dyed-in-the-wool flabbergaster!
— Larry Eisenberg

17. November 10, 2008 9:14 pm
Isn’t it important to have someone who is not afraid of the current bureaucratic structure and enforce the new administration’s policies on education reform?
— John

18. [not for or against him]

19. November 10, 2008 9:46 pm
Now that education is a department under mayoral control, every teacher I know is afraid to publicly speak out against adiministration policies. Pick a free crative thinker with a background in some other discipline than educatiion, e.g. science.
— ***icle***

20. November 10, 2008 10:24 pm
The Secretary of Education should be an educator, not someone who has had a negative impact on the NYC Dept. of Education. There are so many talented people who could provide leadership in this important position. Mr. Klein has not distinguished himself as a positive leader in NYC-the country deserves better.Rachel
— RP

21. November 10, 2008 10:37 pm
I quit after five years of teaching high school largely because of the tremendous negativity in the system. I was a former lawyer who left the profession and obtained a Masters Degree to pursue teaching. I have never worked harder and been treated worse than in the NYC public school system. I credit that, in part, to a culture created/reinforced by Joel [Klein], who constantly belittled teachers and made it acceptable for administrators to do the same.
— Anonymous from Manhattan

22. November 10, 2008 11:38 pm
If Mr. Kristof is correct that Barack Obama is an intellectual, then he will revive a respect for professionalism and appoint an educator as Education Secretary.
Mr. Klein is no educator. Obsessed as he is with voluminous record keeping and standardized assessments, he can be credited with inventing what I call, “bureaucracy-centered pedagogy.” As a New York City ESL teacher, I am compelled to spend more time with paperwork and testing than actually teaching my students.
With Ivy League credentials and publications under my belt, it is safe to say I am not another of Mr. Klein’s alleged lazy teachers standing in the way of rigor.
— Constance Benson

23. November 10, 2008 11:50 pm
David Cantor’s dismissive comment (”he’s angered adults with entrenched interests in policies that have never worked”) is, unfortunately, totally typical of the Klein administration’s low regard for parents, most of whom have no axe to grind other than wanting a well-rounded education for their children.
I can’t think of a single person in my children’s public elementary school who approves of the DOE’s obsession with standardized testing. And while Klein coopts the language of the civil rights movement (”equity of access”), the city’s schools remain shamefully segregated and changes in G&T and early childhood admissions have resulted in fewer minority children in those programs.
President-elect Obama, I (and my children!) traveled out of state to knock doors for you, spent evenings phone banking, bought buttons and bake sale cookies. I realize that you can’t please all of your constituents, but I beg you to listen to the grass roots on this one and not to be fooled by the NYC DOE’s misleading and disrespectful PR machine.
– Brooklyn mom of preK and 2nd grade students
— kk

24. November 11, 2008 12:19 am
I have 2 children currently in the NYC public schools, and I myself attended NYC public schools from grade K-6.
My daughter is an 8th grader, and her class was the first year for whom the 3rd grade NYS test was the promotional criteria. I watched a child who had been an enthusiastic student become increasingly demoralized and crushed by a curriculum that did not offer clear teaching methods, particularly in the mathematics curriculum, and which did not match what was covered on the assessments she was given prior to the test. In the years since, I have seen no improvement in either the ability of the curriculum to match the test, or in the ability of the test to measure any progress in educational achievement.
My son is autistic, and in a 5th grade equivalent class at this time. When I attempted to get information about kindergarten level placement for him, I was unable to find anything pertinent on the DOE website. Being something of an involved parent, I called the phone number provided for District 75 and was told such information was confidential. I ask you, who would I tell? Is educating an autistic child now classified? It took a rather sarcastic email to Mr. Klein to get information that allowed my husband and I to interview schools for our son. He’s doing well, but to be very honest, his school is now attempting to inflict the general education curriculum on his class, and I am beside myself. Autistic children have a great deal of trouble connecting with abstract notions like “How do you feel? How was your day?” Imagine what will happen when someone asks my son, who taught himself to multiply when he was 6, to describe how he chose to solve a problem.
In all honesty, if Mr. Klein is given the opportunity to do for the nation what he has done for New York, I’d strongly suggest we abandon all hope and become a nation of homeschoolers. I don’t care about the ridiculous letter grades he assigns to schools based on some Byzantine calculations. I loathe filling out the annual parent surveys, which ask absolutely no questions that I find relevant, but which are deliberately skewed to produce data that supports his agenda. I want parent involvement to actually have meaning again. I want my children to be taught by methods that may very well be considered didactic, but which actually worked for my generation. In fact, I’d like teachers to have some input on the curriculum, based on what they know works as opposed to what a think tank thinks might work. I’d like principals to have at least 15 to 20 years of classroom teaching under their belts before we place them in charge of an entire school. Otherwise, obviously unqualified individuals like myself (my work history was strictly corporate/financial) could apply for the position, although I suspect I might at least have the maturity to know I was in over my head.
— Christine Burke

25. November 11, 2008 3:05 am
Mr. Klein’s statment from his press secretary David Cantor said:“The chancellor has spent the last six years building a school system focused on the needs of kids.”
Mr. Klein, your claim is bassless and unfounded.
— CR

26. November 11, 2008 6:18 am
The man is unqualified and the SED should never have granted him a waiver to take a job for which he has no qualification whatsoever.
He and all the cronies he brought in are arrogant. Like they are the only ones who put “Children First.” He never spent a day in a classroom and has not the slightest concept what the teachers, Assistant Principals and Principals go through on a daily basis.
He has destroyed many of the finest high schools, especially in minority areas of Brooklyn, with his belief that smaller schools work better. He has brought in Principals who don’t have a clue, who wouldn’t know a good less if they saw one.
He has gotten a lot of good press by playing the role of politician by ripping apart the people who put it on the line every day of their working lives.
His grading system of schools makes no sense. Why tell people their child works in a school that is an F. Why tell teachers that. Why tell Principals that. Are there some schools that have problems; yes of course. But more often than not, these problems are far above what the teachers can do. How would you like walking into a class every day and 3/4 of the students don’t bring notebooks to school. Or get up and walk around the room. And of course, the teachers are blamed.
Teachers who have spent 20 years of their lives working at a high level are told their schools are closing and told go out and find a job. And then they discover that because of this moron, schools no longer get a personnel budget based on one teacher unit but based on actual dollars. So of course a Principal will be very reluctant to hire a teachers making $100,000 when he or she can hire 2 newbie making $40,000 and still have $20,000 to spend. Or teachers go on interviews and discover they are dealing with mental midgets brought in to be Principals by a “Leadership Academy” that doesn’t have the slightest clue. So they rightfully mind their time in the Absent Teacher Reserves and this jerk blames the teachers and wants to take away their jobs because of his inability to comprehend what his policies have done. And then we get the newspapers supporting him and blaming the teachers and accepting his idiotic comments that the reason these teachers can’t get jobs is because they are incompetent. And then nobody questions why most every teachers retires on the first day he or she can to get away from this madness.
And we see the papers and the Mayor trying to tell the world what a wonderful job they have done “improving” the schools. And of course the newspaper editors buy into this.
Maybe New York City does need him to get a job in the Federal government so that we can spread this incompetent’s “wealth” (in terms of educational knowledge).
But as for NYC, it will take decades to recover from what has been done to its school system.
The man has to go.
— Jeff S

27. November 11, 2008 7:20 am
I served as a New York City public school teacher for over ten years. I hold two New York State teaching certificates and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. I currently teach at a top private prep school in New York City. In my experience, Joel Klein’s leadership of the NYC public school system has been a complete disaster. If Barack Obama wants to replicate this disaster on a national scale, Klein is his man.
First, Mr. Klein created a new centralized bureaucracy and tried to micromanage teachers. This flew in the face of all experience and research with school reform, which shows unambiguously that successful school reform is and must be staff driven.
When Klein’s micromanagement predictably failed, he declared victory: “Now that I have brought accountability to the system, it is time for the next phase.” This next phase is management by numbers. Knowing nothing about education or about running a school system, Mr. Klein thinks it is a simple matter to measure the performance of students, teachers, and administrators using test scores.
The result is predictable: teachers are being pressured to teach to the test, and administrators are being pressured to tweak the metrics to make the numbers come out right. This has nothing to do with quality education, but Mr. Klein will get his numbers. At least he will until the whole house of cards collapses in an Enron-type academic scandal.
Mr. Obama, if you want to improve education in this country, you need a master educator, respected by other educators, in charge of the nation’s Education Department.Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
— Brian D’Agostino

28. November 11, 2008 7:48 am
As a graduate of New York City’s public school system at a time when the system, for all its many faults, provided an excellent education for many of its students, I would like to see a return to education and the end of those endless standardized tests. All they measure is test-taking ability, which is a skill having nothing to do with learning. No child left behind, indeed! Klein represents the failure of Bush education policies, and should not be rewarded with a federal position. Neither should he continue in his position in New York City.
New York’s public school system has never been perfect, and it had a sad amount of failures even in my day. But to say it is broken and can never be fixed is to doom our future. Klein’s tenure has been an outright failure. Let’s give him an F and try education instead of testing.
— Amy Stoller

29. [liked Klein, trusts Obama to make the right choice]

30. November 11, 2008 9:03 am
And the police-state conditions now in effect in our schools, with the nypd having more authority than principals, thanks klein!
— Wanda

31. November 11, 2008 9:56 am
Deliver the City of New York from the ineptitude and malfeasance of Joel Klein. Appoint him secretary of the US Department of Education and be done with him once and for all.
— Vir Gules

32. November 11, 2008 10:16 am
Response to some of the comments:
To 2. Please read Obama’s ideas on education, which were up online for a while but are taken down from time to time while they construct the site. I made some comments about certain items in his bulleted list at: “A whiff of Educorp” — using assessment to get “quality” teachers (quality teachers come from experience, not from entry assessments), charter schools and merit pay.
To 5: You hit the nail on the head when you say that education should be designed be trained educators. Klein is not an educator, was waivered in by the State, and is a political, corporate appointment by a billionaire mayor. So I don’t understand why you think he’s no worse than anyone else: of course he is, with those non-credentials.
To 10: Update on the number of signatures: 323 right now.
To 12: If drawing the ire of parents and teachers is a good thing, you must be part of the moneyed class who sends their children to private schools and wants the rest of the city ghettoized.
To 14: We are not talking here about the next NYC schools chancellor. We’re talking about a much larger position.
To 18: You say that individual “successes” in the public sphere are more revealing regardless of who’s chancellor. What elitism! The kids who “make it” big through this system are mostly the ones with huge emotional, educational and financial support from home. This guy condemns the rest to any combination of huge class size, failing buildings, circumvented laws (sp. ed), and rescinded programs. No one is extending a helping hand to the kids who have no way out of this muck and get dragged down further.
Send Klein back to wherever he can do least harm, and start mounting a parallel campaign of equal importance to NYC: against a billionaire mayor who has already bought the system and wants to do it some more.
— Woodlass

33. November 11, 2008 12:44 pm
One of the most destructive things Klein has done while Chancellor has been to dismantle the school districts. The districts used to be huge sources of support for the principals and the schools. Those working in the district had once been principals and teachers themselves, and principals report to me that the relationships they used to have with the district personnel were “almost familial.” New principals were mentored by old. If a principal encountered a problem, he or she could call up the district and get advice from people who had once stood in her shoes.
One principal reported to me that during her first months as a new principal, the district superintendent showed up one morning before school, meeting her unexpectedly in the doorway. The two of them sat downstairs at the security officer’s desk and together went over a document the principal had written about her plans. Similarly, the week after 9/11, the district realized that they had a brand new principal in a school and sent a district representative over to spend the day with her, to give her support and make sure she was all right. Interestingly, this was District 2, the same district that had 4 or more schools in the vicinity of the World Trade Center, schools that had had to be evacuated and temporarily housed elsewhere. Obviously, District 2 had a lot on its plate. But the people in the district remembered the new principal they had just assigned to a school and were nursing along, and they were committed to helping her.
Now, in stark contrast, principals report to me that the only time representatives from the DOE show up is on testing days, when they stand and observe, eyes squinted, arms folded, while the principal unpacks the tests and distributes them to the classrooms. Now, because of Klein’s destructive policies, most of the district personnel, many of whom were nationally respected educators, have “retired,” and are no longer available to shepherd our schools.
I am not a teacher; I am a parent who has been a public school parent for 8 years now, and in that time I have seen how hard the teachers and principals work. These are people who not only have experience every day in the trenches, but who have academic backgrounds, advanced degrees, in education. Education is a field, just as law is, or business, and I object strenuously to the DOE’s assertion that Klein and Co. are working against “entrenched interests.” Instead, what they’ve done time and time again is arrogantly refuse to listen to or respect the professional educators who have devoted their lives and careers to educating our city’s children.
— Jan Carr

34. [won't make a difference Klein or anyone else, since school system bad all around]

35. November 11, 2008 6:07 pm
If one is to really vet the selection of Joel Klein, I would hope the Transition Team would speak to parents and teachers alike. Do not believe the hype that the Bloomberg administration is giving the media. You will find that under Klein, education has turned to TEST PREP. Under Klein, more money was wasted on corporations that could have went towards lowering class size. Under Klein, parent concerns go unheard. Under Klein, the Department of Education is flooded with lawyers instead of educators. Under Klein, appointments have been made that ended in disgrace. Under Klein, principals are allowed to abuse educators instead of collaborating with them. Under Klein, little children were forced to wait hours for their school bus in the middle of winter. Under Klein, budgets were cut in the middle of the school year forcing many after-school programs and tutoring sessions to close. And under Klein, principals are forcing teachers to pass students so they can get a bonus.
— Linda

36. November 11, 2008 7:20 pm
Let Klein go to Washington and let’s see how long it takes them to figure out that he knows nothing of building capacity in schools and school systems, that he lacks leadership, vision and compassion. For me, as a parent of a school aged child, he has made it perfectly clear that he has no interest in hearing the voices of the families and teachers he serves. If that is what the Obama camp wants, let them have it.
— Angie

37. November 11, 2008 9:14 pm
As a father of two middle school sons solely educated in the NYC public school system, past president of a PA, currently on the SLT and proud parent who gives school tours to perspective parents, I must speak out. I have heard the words of Mr Klein up close and personal when he speaks about education being partnership between the schools and the parents (as long as the parents abide by all his decisions). He has elevated high stakes testing to an unthinkable degree (the numbers don’t lie, do they Mr Bloomberg?). He had to receive a variance to become Chancellor as he hadn’t earned appropriate teaching credentials .. and feel free to sing the praises, Mr. Klein, of the public schools your children attend.
HE IS NOT AN EDUCATOR. HE IS A LAWYER and that doesn’t make him a bad person, it has made him a bad choice to head the Department of Education in New York. He has hired other lawyers to run his no bid, opaque spend fest, without reducing class size or investing directly into the classrooms. Parents will never have a seat at his decision making table. Oh did I metion, its all about testing, Testing and more TESTING not education, and the buckets of money (that would be far better spent for instruction) have been pissed away keeping score. Years from now, when this failed experiment perpetratred on New York City’s publically educated children is analyzed after having wasted our students’ precious years, will we be thanking the God of your choice because he left NY to run our nation’s education into the ground? President elect Obama, have mercy for the educational future of America’s children…DO NOT APPOINT KLEIN. Hire an educator, just because.
— Don

38. November 11, 2008 9:44 pm
I voted for Barak Obama because I believe tomorrow can be a better day and that real improvements can be made in this country if our leaders use common sense and seek input from a wide variety of views and experts.
Speaking as a teacher in the NYC public schools, if Obama picks Joel Klein as Secretary of Education I will feel my vote has been used in vain.
I’ve been teaching for six years now and like everyone, I know the system has flaws but the way the DOE has gone about solving them makes the cure far worse than the disease. Klein has no clue about education, has no idea what happens in the classroom and has shown no interest in learning and improving. His policies actually make it harder to teach and less likely my students will learn.
Klein’s obsession with flawed testing, inane and inaccurate school grades and wasteful outside reviews would be a disaster if pushed on the rest of the country.
— Alan

39. November 11, 2008 10:19 pm
“Education is NOT effective in a democratic process.” - Rick (#5)
I do not endorse the rest of that post, but those eight words are at the very center of the humungous problem facing American public education from K through 12. Voting for the members of local school boards is so strong a convention in the US, and has been for centuries, that the disconnect and inconsistency is never remarked on. As Rick points implies, and I would emphasize, the one and only area of public education in the US which is indisputably world-class is the work of the Land Grant Colleges - our magnificent network of State University systems. If there was some way of running the pre-post-secondary sector as the state universities are run (with public oversight by boards of regents happening at an appropriately large remove from the administrators of those institutions) we would have a chance to bring about the changes so desperately needed. Otherwise, I suspect that many more billions of dollars will go down many more drains, with very little to show by way of real change for real students.
Or perhaps we could follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: We could empty our prisons in very short order if our K-12 public school system throughout the nation was based on having one teacher for every six students!
Worth a try, I would suggest.
— Old-timer

40. November 12, 2008 10:32 am
[This is Pro-Klein, but so craven and absurd I had to leave it in for the entertainment value.]
Of course Joel Klein has angered educators. He made some moves to introduce accountability and innovation to a malfunctioning system which is in some ways simply a tool of a Union whose last concern is actual education. I am a parent of a New York City public school student and Mr. Klein has at times disappointed me with moves he made. However, those cases were usually due to his concern for the all the children in NYC being in conflict with my parochial interests in my child’s school. In every case, there was and is never any doubt that Mr. Klein thinks of children first.
I wasn’t a Barack Obama supporter, but an appointment of Joel Klein as Secretary of Education would go a long way towards convincing me that our President-Elect has wisdom that is commensurate with his charisma.
— M. A.

41. November 12, 2008 12:29 pm
As a recent graduate of NYC’s public schools, I cannot even begin to relate just how poorly matched and unqualified Mr. Klein is for the country’s top education job. Mr. Klein was a fantastic antitrust lawyer, especially in the Microsoft cases. That is the only salvageable part of his legacy. He should beg for a Justice Dept. job, perhaps senior-level. Personally, I think that if a New Yorker should be Education Secretary, it should be Caroline Kennedy.

42. November 12, 2008 12:31 pm
TO “M.A.:
“In every case, there was and is never any doubt that Mr. Klein thinks of children first.”
No one doubts whether Joel Klein thinks about children first. its just that other people are better suited candidates for the job.

43. November 12, 2008 12:57 pm
I am African American Single Parent among many other things had enrolled my precious child inot a district three public school on the Upper West Side. We made it though 3 weeks in which i vowed that my children will NEVER be a product of a public school education. Between the Raggedy Classrooms , with No Textbooks a Fifth Grade Curriculum that is fit for Preschoolers a slick hustlin’ Absentee Principal and the SYSTEMATIC RACIST STRATEGY called THE GIFTED AND TALENTED program … I was done . It absolutely amazes me that Middle Aged Adults with a million dollar budget cannot NO will not pull it together to ensure that all children of America have a descent environment to send thier children.
— Karimu Abena Hamilton

44. November 20, 2008 6:45 am
It’d be interesting to know what about Mr. Klein would spark interest in an Obama administration to consider him for such a position. It’d interesting to know.
Mr. Klein has, at best, managed to be an unmitigated disaster. His may claim good intent if he so wishes, but his policies, management style and practices have been unproductive and harmful to the NYC DOE. Worse still, to cover his tracks of failure, he uses watered down assessment tests - the results of which are used as political instruments to perpetuate and justify what isn’t so as to reach for more political gains. He surrounds himself with consultants and businesses that have no pulse on what goes on in the classroom.
What is his position on class size, parent and teacher support and involvement, collective bargaining, salaries, curriculum design, textbook design and selection, and (Lord have mercy) special education.
Yes, special needs children. In Klein’s DOE, providing education to your special needs child is a torture of a thousand cuts and a million deaths. He has set up these painful processes that take parents through this maze of raw frustration. I know because I’m a parent of a SpEd child and a NYCDoE SpEd teacher.
President-elect Obama, mull this one over very carefully. If your expectation is unproductive angst and a sure failure of your education agenda, Klein is sure to deliver. I doubt if he’d fail.
— Emma


  1. I would liken the past six years of DOE initiatives to aquiring the most expensive, state of the art, limited edition, proffesional cooking equipment. Collect high quality bark and retrieve from a quarry precious stones and from a farm fresh picked vegetables and add fresh running spring water. When you put it all have stone soup, of the highest quality and made with the greatest amount of effort and care. It is still stone soup and it still lacks the essentials of a balanced quality offering and leaves many people hungry, lacking the components that ensure a healthy delivery for all that require the basic nutrients that make a person whole.
    Where's the Beef?

  2. Commenter #40 was also likely a McCain supporter. Enough said.

    I really, really, really hope that Obama gets wind of all that's come up about Klein in light of this issue. It's telling when people come out as forcefully as they do. I don't know anyone who thinks that Klein has done a good job- even the TFA and TF people I work with, who tend to be uber-critical of the system, thought Klein sucked. And he does.