Thursday, December 23, 2010

Goodbye and good riddance to Joel Klein


Joel Klein's last (hopefully) Principals Weekly reminds us of some of his worst qualities – his pretentiousness and hypocrisy.

Harold Levy came in as Chancellor quoting Wallace Stevens; Klein leaves quoting T.S. Eliot. (What is it with these corporate lawyers posing as educators; is it intellectual insecurity?)

Klein quotes these lines, from Eliot's Little Gidding:

"We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time."

Sounds like a a dog chasing his own tail -- an inadvertent metaphor for the perpetual cluelessness of this administration.

He goes onto make oft-repeated claims -- the great achievement gains under his leadership, which were actually quite limited compared to other cities around the nation; and the same old familiar complaints: Why can't we lay off teachers regardless of seniority? Why can't we fire teachers on Absent Teacher Reserve?

He also writes that given "the economics of our state and city" there will be no choice but to lay off teachers -- when there are clearly lots of better choices, other areas of spending that could be cut, and quite a few revenue options as well.

All in all, the letter reminds us of why Klein has been one of the least liked public officials to serve in NYC – with consistently low approval ratings, below 45%, and sometimes well below that for most of his time in office. .

Finally, about the closing schools, he writes:

I don’t think any of you would send your own children to one of those schools. That’s a pretty telling fact. And if that’s true, whose children should go there? Surely, the answer cannot be those with the most challenges and fewest options in life. Let’s not allow job security and nostalgia to stand in the way of doing the hard work necessary to do right by our students.

And let's not allow rigid ideological biases get in the way of providing these students the sort of schools that more advantaged children in this city and state are provided as a matter of course.

Indeed, if the measure is where someone would send his or her own children, Klein should be asked --why did you refuse to make NYC schools more like the ones that your own children attended, or those of Mayor Bloomberg?

The schools their children went to all had extremely small classes, with experienced teachers, in uncrowded facilities, and no high-stakes testing.

Instead, Klein consistently dismissed the importance of class size and experience. As a result, class sizes sharply increased, despite more than a billion dollar meant to reduce class size, schools have become even more crowded with co-locations and the like, and standardized testing has turned into the sole measure of educational quality.

All this is yet another symptom of his and Bloomberg's thorough-going condescension, as Patrick Sullivan has put it, the way in which privileged men have chosen to impose "solutions" on other people’s children that they would never consider for their own.

Let's hope history treats him as he deserves -- an educational Bernie Madoff, who took millions of dollars, in this case from taxpayers, and stole their children's futures.

12 comments:

Miss Elphaba said...

Well said and clearly stated.

Anonymous said...

A Dept of Education Lawyer who visited my school back in 2004 told the following account of "Joel". For much of the morning he would spend time shooting a small orange basketball into a small blue basketball hoop and net located in his office at Tweed. Nothing could get done without Joels approval. The man has his priorities. I only can hope that years from now the true story on how these corporate creeps did their best to destroy public education is told.

Old Teacher

Queens Teacher said...

An "educational Bernie Madoff".

Perfect description.

Miss Elphaba said...

Except Joel Klein is NOT in jail....

No one was able to catch him doing anything illegal.

Anonymous said...

So sad because it's so true. The schools are a mess; nothing works, nothing. I feel sad and outraged. I guess he can keep deluding himself into believing he closed the achievement gap and made tremendous gains. Apparently if he says it enough, it's true.

Happy New Year to everyone - surely educationally speaking 2011 has to be better now that Joel Klein is gone.

Anonymous said...

The kids themselves will tell you what a failure Joel Klein's policies have been. Yesterday, the kids were telling me how much they hate our school. I asked why and they said - classes are too big! There are too many kids in a class. Some kids don't want to learn and they mess it up for all of us. The kids themselves know they are getting a subpar education but unfortunately no one outside of these blogs is paying attention. Joel Klein is still allowed to go around touting his great achievements.

Retired NYC teacher said...

Joel Klein left behind a disaster. Too many subpar small high schools, too many burnt out teachers,too much unworkability in the high school admissions process, too many unsupported and undersupervised young, inexperienced principals and a mountain of tension and ill feeling between public school parents and charter school parents. The list goes on. He failed miserably because he forfeited the good will of the teachers and parents. Can you really claim success if you alienate the service providers(the teachers) and the service users who are the parents and students? Would any corporation or businesss succeed if it dismissed and disrespected it's workers and and it's customers all at the time? A business like that would fold. To protect his ego he has to believe that he succeeded. The truth is too bitter to swallow. His departure is greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Good-Bye Joel Klein. You helped to destroy our school system with huge classes,test prep mania, over evaluation of phony charter schools,destruction of teacher moral, and teaching children that they can do what they want in school as long as they pass the ridiculous state wide exams.Discipline and thinking skills are missing in many of our schools.
The sad part is as long as our mayor runs the schools and appoints people with no knowledge of what it is to be a teacher in our public schools nothing will change.

Anonymous said...

Klein is leaving behind a legacy of cheating the kids out of a true education. He knew how to game the system starting with the infamous credit recovery programs! Colleges are now seeing the impact of those credit recovery programs. Klein knew if he changed the way schools are funded, convinced principals (mostly from the Leadership Academy which were untenured and have few years of teaching or never taught) to hire only untenured teachers (at-will employees will be at the mercy of the principal), used the Principal Weekly as a propaganda tool, with very subtle, subliminal suggestions, and used the Progress Report/Quality Review to gauge the school's performance where in the high school student were given credits (social promotion) so the school doesn't become victim of the "Scarlet Letter" F, principals will give in to Klein’s push to the scam, the shame, the cheating, the fraud, and the downright lies of closing the achievement gap. Klein thought if he used all those tactics together it would be the inevitable death of the public school system.

Klein forgot that parents, teachers, community activists, and other stakeholders are powerful when united and see that our children's education is being destroyed.

Klein should take his all his belongings out of Tweed. Leave from the back exit of Tweed and never look back because he’s not leaving a legacy of any accomplishments. He left a path of educational destruction where our children are the victim because Klein wanted to please the ego-maniac 3 term mayor.

Hit the road Jack and never come back!!!
Zulma Villalba

Anonymous said...

"Surely educationally speaking 2011 has to be better now that Joel Klein is gone" == wishful thinking!!

The same bull-headed, ignorant-and-proud-of-it mayor is still in charge. Were it not for his billions, and the vicious way he uses them against potential opponents, he most certainly would not have been able to buy a third term for himself. What has his third term brought nyc? One additional year of Joel Klein and how many Black years?

Joel Klein looks great compared to Cathie Black. At least he stepped foot in public schools prior to taking charge of them. Indeed, people of Cathie's social set told her that she's doing such a noble thing, devoting herself so selflessly to bringing the wonders of competition and standardization to the children of the unwashed masses.

But - not to worry! She's an absolutely BRILLIANT manager. So brilliant that she won't publicly reveal her academic record, while she expects an aggregate of student test scores of unknown validity to be publicly released so as to shame hard-working teachers?

When every single teacher in the system has to have at least one master's degree and to pass state licensing tests, this lightweight "manager" got a college degree with mostly soft-ball or irrelevant courses and didn't particularly distinguish herself, educationally speaking.

There is absolutely NOTHING to suggest that Cathie Black has the intellect, experience, knowledge, understanding or skill set to do a halfway decent job. Early reports on Black's half-hour "visits" to schools are that she is in way over her head. The stories about her embarrassing comments and "suggestions" to principals and school staffs do nothing to reassure anyone about her capacity to lead the most complicated school system in the country.

The Tweed rats are beginning to leave the sinking ship. They believed in the irrational fact-free theories this mayor espouses, or said they did, but some now see how foolish they were, and what damage this chancellor caused by heedlessly implementing unproven "theories" based on mythical "business principles."

My fellow fans of public education, please try to hang in there. The long nightmare will continue for 3 more years, but then, perhaps, democracy will be restored to NYC and a gifted educator will be hired for the school chancellorship.

Anonymous said...

"Surely educationally speaking 2011 has to be better now that Joel Klein is gone" == wishful thinking!!

The same bull-headed, ignorant-and-proud-of-it mayor is still in charge. Were it not for his billions, and the vicious way he uses them against potential opponents, he most certainly would not have been able to buy a third term for himself. What has his third term brought nyc? One additional year of Joel Klein and how many Black years?

Joel Klein looks great compared to Cathie Black. At least he stepped foot in public schools prior to taking charge of them. Indeed, people of Cathie's social set told her that she's doing such a noble thing, devoting herself so selflessly to bringing the wonders of competition and standardization to the children of the unwashed masses.

But - not to worry! She's an absolutely BRILLIANT manager. So brilliant that she won't publicly reveal her academic record, while she expects an aggregate of student test scores of unknown validity to be publicly released so as to shame hard-working teachers?

When every single teacher in the system has to have at least one master's degree and to pass state licensing tests, this lightweight "manager" got a college degree with mostly soft-ball or irrelevant courses and didn't particularly distinguish herself, educationally speaking.

There is absolutely NOTHING to suggest that Cathie Black has the intellect, experience, knowledge, understanding or skill set to do a halfway decent job. Early reports on Black's half-hour "visits" to schools are that she is in way over her head. The stories about her embarrassing comments and "suggestions" to principals and school staffs do nothing to reassure anyone about her capacity to lead the most complicated school system in the country.

The Tweed rats are beginning to leave the sinking ship. They believed in the irrational fact-free theories this mayor espouses, or said they did, but some now see how foolish they were, and what damage this chancellor caused by heedlessly implementing unproven "theories" based on mythical "business principles."

My fellow fans of public education, please try to hang in there. The long nightmare will continue for 3 more years, but then, perhaps, democracy will be restored to NYC and a gifted educator will be hired for the school chancellorship.

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