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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Poor misunderstood Joel Klein

In Joel Klein's exit interview in the NY Times he portrays himself as misunderstood. Or is it he himself who continually misses the point?

In response to a question about whether he regrets not paying attention to public school parents and teachers who grew angry at him for his neglect, Klein pulls out a card from a third grader at a Harlem charter school, thanking the Chancellor for being his "advocate." Not only was this clearly orchestrated by a charter school operator, but unmentioned is the apparent lack of appreciation from any of the one million plus parents or students at public schools in the system that he was responsible for running for the last eight years.

In response to a question as to whether he regrets the fact that there are still many schools with large numbers of failing students, Klein brags that he closed nearly a hundred schools.

When asked about whether he regrets that he didn't adequately listen to "outside voices"
he responds that he should "have spent more time really engaging people so they really understand the things that drive me."

Me, me, me. Again, others should have listened to him more; not that he could have listened to others.

He says "I think teachers would feel really respected if we created the kind of profession where teachers were the American heroes, where excellence was truly rewarded. "

Instead, he has scapegoated teachers at every turn, and "rewarded" them with larger classes, closing their schools, putting more pressure to increase test scores at any cost, and advocating for the elimination of their job security and seniority.

There is one honest nugget in the self-congratulatory, self-pitying piece. After a question about whether he would send his own daughter to a NYC public school, he states one of the central tenets of his administration:

"Schools have to turn around from within. There’s not somebody at a central office who waves a wand on this stuff."

In other words, don't blame him if schools didn't improve enough under his watch.

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