Friday, August 31, 2007

Jonathan Kozol on class size and where Pres. Bush went to school

Jonathan Kozol has written a new book, called “Letters to a New Teacher.” Leonard Lopate interviewed Kozol last week on WNYC.

Here is an excerpt:

Kozol: “If I wanted to really lower the achievement gap between minority and white kids in America, I wouldn’t waste time testing them to death, I wouldn’t waste time terrifying school principals and trying to run a school system under the sword of fear; I would #1 defend the high morale of the best young teachers I could hire; and #2 give them a class size which never exceeds 18 children in elementary school; or 22 children in secondary school – which is exactly what it’s like in the top suburban school systems.”

He also talked about the fact that at Andover, where President Bush went, there is a maximum of 12 students in high school classes: “If small class size and the individual attention this gives every child is good for the son of a President, then its good for the poorest child ….right here in NYC.

Download the interview here (mp3).

Buy his book here.


August 31, 2007 (GBN News): The plan for the NY City Department of Education to pay schoolchildren for good test scores may come at a higher price than Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein had anticipated. A spate of challenges, legal and otherwise, may soon be in the offing.

GBN News has learned that a in a number of schools, fourth and seventh graders are planning to “hold out” for higher compensation. Children are apparently organizing to refuse to take standardized tests unless the pay scale is significantly raised. One eighth grade organizer at MS 333 in Brooklyn, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Hey, they make such a big deal over test scores, it must be pretty important to them. Let’s see what it’s really worth.”

The fact that the compensation will be limited to fourth and seventh graders has rankled many children who missed out on the incentives last year. A group of students calling themselves “Fifth and Eight Graders for Fairness” are demanding retroactive pay for last years’ tests, and they say that they may even file a class action lawsuit to force the DOE to pay damages as well. As one eight grader put it, “They say paying kids raises test scores, so I would have done much better on my tests last year if they paid me. I probably missed out on a good high school, and this could have cost me a chance at Harvard Law. That’s worth millions.”

The stakes may be even higher for Chancellor Klein. According to GBN News sources, Mayor Bloomberg will pay the Chancellor $100,000 out of his own pocket for each percentage point increase in city test scores, as an incentive to get the new policy to succeed. However, if there is no increase, the Mayor will hold the Chancellor accountable. Mr. Bloomberg was said to have told aides that, “If scores don’t go up and it costs me the Presidency, I’ll sue his ass.”

In a related story, the DOE is working on in incentive plan to insure the success of the Chancellor’s plan to institute a “rigorous, standards based” program for three and four year olds. Preschoolers, who will be tested on such subjects as toilet training, block building and nap time, will earn performance rewards ranging from Barney coloring books to stuffed animals.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


August 26, 2007 (GBN News): Mayor Bloomberg announced today that not only will he defy a planned override of his veto of the City Council bill guaranteeing children’s right to carry cell phones to and from school, he now intends to put forth a complete ban on possession of cell phones throughout the city. “If they’re dangerous for kids to carry, they’re dangerous for everyone”, the Mayor told a City Hall news conference, “and besides, they annoy me”.

The Mayor’s plan will, according to City Hall sources, be enforced by the Mayor’s new “Cell Phone Czar”, Emomali Rakhmon, former President of Tajikistan and currently head of School Security. Mr. Rakhmon will enforce the ban through a combination of technologies. Mobile metal detectors, of the type employed by school security, will be placed at random at the entrances to stores, theaters, and other public places. In addition, the hundreds of strategically placed “congestion pricing” cameras, which Mr. Bloomberg hopes will be used to charge motorists for driving in Manhattan, will serve double duty by taking pictures of cell phone users as well. The pictures will be matched up with existing Police Department mug shots as well as news archives and old high school yearbook photos, to determine the identity of the violators. All cell phones detected by these devices will be confiscated, and the users will be fined $500. Second time offenders will be shot.

Reaction from the Council was swift. Council Speaker Christine Quinn, usually an ally of the Mayor, said that there is no legal way that the Mayor can enforce such a ban without a Council vote, which will not be forthcoming. However, Mr. Bloomberg dismissed that objection, saying the Council members only want to be able to carry cell phones so that they can arrange big fund raising dinners. “It is my duty as Mayor to keep this city safe”, Mr. Bloomberg said, “and possession of cell phones leads to crime, gang violence, and an irritating ringing in my ears.”

It was brought to the Mayor’s attention that his own schools Chancellor, Joel Klein, might object to the ban, since he relies on a Blackberry to perform most of his duties. The Mayor countered that he and the Chancellor would be exempt from the ban. “We’re rich”, the Mayor said, “so you can trust us never to use cell phones for criminal purposes.”

In a related story, the Mayor told a group of public school parents that he is responsive to their concern that children are not safe traveling home from school alone without cell phones. Mr. Bloomberg told the group that he will consequently mandate that mothers pick up their children from school every day to accompany them home. However, he said if the mothers are truly too busy to pick up their kids themselves, they will be allowed to “send the chauffeur or the maid” to pick them up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

DOE spokesperson, earning her keep!

Check out this entry from the NY Press. Apparently Julia Levy of the DOE press office emailed her colleagues at 8:37 AM on Saturday morning, urging them to vote in the NY1 snap poll on Klein’s performance.

From: Levy Julia
Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2007 8:37 AM
Subject: NY1 grading the chancellor

Hi all,NY1 is asking NYers what grade they'd give Joel for his five-year tenure as schools chancellor. If you're interested in voting, please visit>; . (Feel free to pass this along to your teams.)Also, you have another chance to grade the chancellor -- this time on edwize, the UFT's blog. Please visit <>; to vote. Please share this with your colleagues and friends.Julia

As the NY Press writes, “One way to make sure your boss triumphs in an online poll is to alert the employees that they should go vote for the boss.”

It’s nice to know the former NY Sun reporter is working overtime, earning her (as of 2006) $120,000 salary!

For the Chancellor’s final grade in the NY1 poll, click here.

Middle Schools Initiative & Cell Phone Ban: Discussions at Panel for Educational Policy Meeting

The Panel for Educational Policy meets monthly to review DOE policies and approve budgets. As the appointee of Borough President Scott Stringer, I represent Manhattan on the Panel. The DOE doesn't release minutes or transcripts of the proceedings so I'll be relating the important items for all interested. See also InsideSchools for coverage.

Middle School Initiative

The DOE presented their initiative to adopt recommendations of the City Council's Middle School Task Force. NYU education professor Pedro Noguera did an excellent job of pulling a strong report out of a task force filled with diverse views. It's a shame the mayor and chancellor couldn't give it more than half-hearted support. The NY Times coverage reflected the timid response:
"But the mayor shied away from adopting the most far-ranging changes recommended in the reports, like significantly reducing class sizes, creating a special middle school academy to train teachers about early adolescence, and removing police officers from city schools to create a more welcoming atmosphere."
I pointed out how the middle school situated inside DOE headquarters, the Ross Global Academy charter school, has capped class size at 20 students and asked if the more modest class size reduction recommendations in the report (25 students per class) would be adopted. The answer was no. Since the report offers smaller classes as a way to attract experienced teachers to high-needs schools, I then asked what measures would be taken to attract and retain teachers. The DOE plan is to expand the lead teacher program and offer professional development.

We often hear the mayor speak on the nature of leadership: "Lead from the front" etc. Middle school reform is an area where we could use some of that leadership. Council Speaker Chris Quinn and the people behind report are looking at the situation optimistically - that the initial DOE position is only a start and more recommendations will be embraced. Let's hope their optimism is warranted

School Safety

Elayna Konstan, the CEO of the Office of School and Youth Development said our schools are getting safer. The next day the State Education Department said schools are getting more dangerous. You can find statistics for your school on the SED web site. I asked if the Middle School Task Force Report recommendations on school safety would be implemented, specifically, would educators be given more control over school safety officers and police in the schools. Konstan was not familiar with the recommendations and pointed to their efforts in professional development and sharing of best practices.

Cell Phone Ban

The City Council has passed a bill allowing students to carry phones to and from school. While the mayor has vetoed it, the Council has said they will override the veto and pass the bill into law. I asked CEO Konstan if the administration would work with the Council to accommodate the rights of students or would there be more litigation. The response was more tough talk: "We'll wait for the litigation." The chancellor referred me to the mayor's veto message.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More from Klein on "unleashing" greatness

In the same NY Post interview in which the Chancellor recently made his controversial comments about the need for "rigorous standards" for 3, 4 and 5 year olds, he made a number of other revealing statements, including proposing that 10th graders should be tested and steered either to vocational programs or academic classes where they can be prepared for college:

Klein also sees a future with kids "testing out" in 10th grade and either proceeding to two more years of high school and then college, or a vocational school, depending on their grades and ambitions.”

This was one of the major recommendations of a task force report that Klein sat on earlier in the year – created by Marc Tucker of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Tucker is a real educational entrepreneur and serial enabler of many of the worst ideas in education – including the adoption of high stakes testing in states.

Tucker has been quite influential, despite the fact that according to his bio in Wikipedia, his only degrees are in philosophy and American literature, with a Masters in Telecommunications Policy and classes in theater engineering." The report that Tucker released was called “Tough Choices or Tough Times” and you can read the exec. Summary here: (in pdf) The report provoked much criticism and even ridicule when it was released earlier this year – including the notion that all public schools nationwide should be privatized and operated by “independent contractors” -- or organizations like his.

Yet another notion Klein mentions in the NY Post interview is that “"You can't mandate greatness, you can only unleash it. But you can mandate adequacy."

Klein's view that one can only "unleash" greatness underlies DOE”s latest phase of reorganization – a radically decentralized system of schools run by principals with little central oversight or direction. See the recent postings of Deputy Chancellor Chris Cerf in EduWonk – in which Cerf argues by giving principals broad powers, so much individual creativity will be released that the overall system will thrive :

Only by empowering schools with broad decision-making authority within the context of real accountability for results can we stimulate innovation and maximize the creative powers of our committed educators. Only then, can we move school systems to the next level.”

Why the disconnected decisions of 1500 principals, many of whom are severely constrained by overcrowding, an incoherent organizational structure, and a system of accountability that doesn’t take into account their schools’ differential conditions, will lead to greatness is hard to understand. It is certainly not based upon research or the experience any district in the country. Instead, I fear that it will lead to even more inequality of opportunity for our neediest students -- as is happening right now in New Orleans.

Why? Next year, when all NYC schools will be graded A to F, based almost entirely on test scores, and principals will risk losing their jobs based on these grades, the incentives will increase to restrict admission to the most high-achieving students, and to get rid of all the most troublesome, low-achieving students as soon as possible, whether by forcing them to transfer to other schools, discharging them to GED programs, or giving them long-term suspensions.

Though the trend in these outcomes is hard to determine, given DOE’s lack of transparency, there is compelling evidence that both long-term suspensions and discharges have risen significantly under this administration. There is also very good chance that these trends will now accelerate– because oversight will be almost non-existent, and the new system doesn’t measure any of these factors in evaluating schools. Indeed, the Accountability office continues to deny that these problems even exist.

Finally, there are Klein’s concluding words in the Post interview:

"You can't make significant change . . . without there being a certain amount of resistance and pushback," he said. "There are lots of people who are not resistant [to change], but I simply didn't communicate effectively about what [the change] was. They didn't fully understand. They felt things were moving" and they weren't part of it."

What do people think -- was the overwhelming opposition of parents and teachers due to their not "understanding" what the changes were – or more the result of dissatisfaction with the changes themselves and the autocratic manner in which they were imposed?

In each phase of the reorganization, the views and opinions of educators and parents were discounted and ignored, and faddish notions of how to improve our schools substituted in their place. This is still happening, as evidenced by Klein's remarks in this interview. Certainly, those leading the charge at Tweed could have done a far better job communicating their decisions ahead of time – but it may be that they chose not to do this, knowing this would give stakeholders more time to analyze their proposals, evaluate them fairly, and then mobilize resistance.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


In a recent interview in the New York Post, Chancellor Klein said: "We should have all of our students start and have rigorous standard-based programs at age 3, age 4, age 5."

This statement provoked a lot of discussion and critical comment on our NYC education list serv. While few disputed the value of high-quality preschool for four and three years, especially for disadvantaged children, his emphasis on “rigorous, standards-based programs" is a real red flag to many parents. From experience we know what these words mean: pushing our kids into the grind of academics and testing that has overwhelmed our schools -- way before they’re ready for it.

The fact is that all children learn at different rates, particularly in the early years, and to force them into a routine of drilling and frequent assessment so early may have the worst sort of effects. The following are the observations of one parent, Dorothy Giglio:

Holy Cow!! lets do away with childhood altogether. Maybe they can go from the womb to training programs. We could have standardized tests like, one year old must be reciting the alphabet, front and backwards. Two year olds doing beginner math. You get the point.

Why have mothers and fathers, let the government do it. There is no better time than those early years and that means up to 5 years old. When everything to a child is a wonder. That is what most of us had children for. I am all for Pre K, at 4 years old or even day care and early 3yr old programs when the parent either wants or needs it. I can see having a child attend some program to give them a chance at socialization with other children and maybe some of the basics, colors, numbers etc in the context of PLAY.

But kids need to be kids. And suggesting standards at this stage is ridiculous since as a mother of three I know in the early years all children progress at different rates. And a "rigorous standard based program" means in DOE language "Let's TEST them."

My kids are grown, the youngest starts Senior Year in HS this September, but this is not the world I hope to see my grandchildren be taught in some day. Hope I am here to fight it even then.

Dorothy Giglio
Co President James Madison HS
Former President President Council Reg 6 HS
Former President President Council District 22, Brooklyn

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Klein on his 5 year anniversary: "In the end you gotta let your poor heart break a little”

Next week Joel Klein will have been Chancellor for five years – one of the longest serving in NYC history. On the occasion, he sat down for an interview with Mike Meenan of NY1. Some excerpts:

Despite all the reorganizations, he admits that in some ways there has been little change.

Klein: "Any fool can lower class size by the numbers. The question is can you lower class size at the same time you maintain and improve teacher quality?"

If any fool can do it, why can't he? Especially given the fact that there are now almost ten qualified applicants for every teaching opening.

"Klein says he's all for class size reduction, but wants to take time finding the right teachers. It’s a go slow approach ...."

Slow indeed. At this rate our grandchildren will still be waiting.

"It’s a little bit like that song ‘The Glory of Love.’ You know, you gotta give a little, you gotta take a little and in the end you gotta let your poor heart break a little,” says Klein.

Some would say there's been a lot more taking than giving. Fewer classes provided in nearly every grade under this administration -- leading to no discernible progress in this critical measure, despite falling enrollment.

"He's often accused of running the system from the top down. Klein insists he does seek the input of parents. "Let me say to you, I consult broadly and extensively,” says Klein."

Hmm. Wonder which parents he consults -- parents of private school students? Asked what the proof of positive change is:

"Klein says the proof is coming, most visibly with every school now getting a report card. "You don't need any lingo, right? A, B, C, D, or F. People get it,” says Klein. "

What mark would you give the Chancellor? NY 1 lets you grade his performance.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The response is unanimous: withhold state funding until DOE comes up with a better proposal!

On August 6, Class Size Matters faxed an open letter to NY State Education Commissioner Mills, with the signatures of over 200 parents, PTA presidents, Community Education Councilmembers, education advocates, and other key leaders, including Robert Jackson, Chair of the NYC Council Education committee and the original CFE plaintiff.

The letter urges the state to reject the city's
class size reduction proposal, submitted on July 16 as part of its "Contract for Excellence", and to withhold funding until and unless the city prepares an actual, enforceable five year reduction plan, as mandated by law.

The city is obligated to come up with a five year plan, showing continuous and measurable reductions in class size, to receive the additional funding that will come to our schools as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case, according to the budget passed by the State Legislature last spring.

Earlier, we sent Commissioner Mills a longer letter, explaining in detail why the the city's submission is inadequate. For those who are interested in taking a look at our analysis, it is posted (in Word)
here. In brief, the Department of Education's proposal fails to comply with the law for the following reasons:

It does not include even the outlines of a five year class size reduction plan, as required. Even as a one year plan, it lacks sufficient funding, space and direction.

The so-called "Fair student formula" used to allocate dollars deprives resources to reduce class size to half of all schools, including 47% of our failing schools – those that according to law and good policy should be addressed first.

The schools that were selected for “class size coaching” are too few in number, and the process itself of "coaching" will lead to uncertain results.

There is no alignment with the capital plan, as the law mandates -- and thus there is no provision of the additional space that will be necessary.

The class size “targets” mentioned in the document appear to be based on speculation alone, and are so minimal they will be difficult to measure, given the chronic inaccuracy of the city’s class size data. In many grades, the “targets” for class size appear to be higher than would result from enrollment decline alone.

The funds the city wants to spend on its testing initiative, under the heading of additional "time on task" should be disallowed -- as all these new standardized exams will take time away from learning rather than extend it.

Instead of a thoughtful systematic plan, this proposal is fatally flawed -- haphazard, scattershot, and indifferent to the law and the regulations. It is unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in class size in any grade.

We asked that the state require that the city spend at least $100 million next year hiring teachers to reduce class size, targeted first to our failing schools, and immediately prepare a long-term plan, providing sufficient funding and space through a more expansive capital budget, so all students in this city will be able to receive appropriate class sizes within five years.

Since the city revealed its proposal in July, it has met with overwhelming criticism from parents and teachers alike. Here is what Noreen Connell of the Educational Priorities Panel wrote about the response:

Despite the absence of a coherent document and with as little as five days’ notice, close to 900 individuals testified before NYC Department of Education officials, predominantly PTA presidents and other parent leaders. A smaller proportion of those giving oral testimony, but still significant in number, were classroom teachers. Education advocates, elected officials, and civic and union representatives were the balance of participants. ... all substantive public testimony expressed disappointment or anger about the plan’s objectives. Such widespread public rejection calls for the NYS Department of Education to work with city school officials to develop a more acceptable plan.

Her are links to the letters to Mills from Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan, Assemblymember James Brennan, City Council Education Chair Robert Jackson, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity ( pdf), Advocates for Children (pdf), the League of Women Voters (pdf), the Women's City Club (pdf), the United Federation of Teachers, and the Educational Priorities Panel -- each asking that funding be withheld until the city comes up with a better proposal.

What will the Commissioner do? Stay tuned.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mayor Compromises on Cell Ban

August 10, 2007 (GBN News): Determined to maintain the NY City public school ban on cell phones in the face of strong parent opposition and a 46-2 City Council vote to allow children to carry phones to school, Mayor Bloomberg says that he has found a way to satisfy parents without forsaking the ban. The Mayor, with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein at his side, today announced a compromise plan to insure parent-child communication without the need for cell phones.

The new plan would mandate that schools set aside three minutes of homeroom period each day for children to select their dinner options from a printed list. Children will choose appetizer, entrĂ©e and dessert, as well as a beverage option, and, using a number two pencil, will enter their choices by filling in bubbles on a computerized answer sheet. The sheets will be collected and fed into the DOE’s ARIS supercomputer, which will analyze the choices and then either email, FAX, or phone the information to parents in time to cook dinner. The Mayor said that the plan would insure that students no longer will need to bring cell phones to school, since determining dinner plans is the only reason they were needed in the first place.

Chancellor Klein added that there will be other benefits to this plan as well. “We in the NY City schools are data driven”, the Chancellor said, “and we will be gathering huge amounts of new data here.” Mr. Klein went on to say, “Of course, this data will now be factored into each school’s report card. We can now evaluate teachers and Principals based on how healthy their students’ dinner choices are. And woe to any teacher whose students eat too many trans fats.”

The Mayor’s plan is slated to be operational in time for the new school year.

What's for dinner? Bloomberg's comments re cell phones

As reported below, yesterday the Mayor vetoed the legislation that would grant students the right to carry their cell phones to and from schools -- and would obligate DOE to set up a process to make this possible.

The Council passed the original bill 46-2 and is expected to override his veto easily, though the administration has already signaled it doesn't intend to comply with the law in any case -- which sets up a legal battle as to whether the Council has the authority to ensure this right for students.

Today on his weekly radio show, Bloomberg once again trivialized parents' concerns about what would happen in emergencies such as another 9/11, when several downtown schools were evacuated and it was impossible for them to locate their children for many hours, and also about unsafe situations that occur regularly when students are traveling to and from school.

Instead, the Mayor said that parents just want to tell their children what’s for dinner:

If your question is do you want to have fish or chicken for dinner tonight, that’s not something we should pull your kid out. If it’s an emergency, call the school. If it’s not an emergency, it has to wait. There’s nothing more important for our children than getting them the education they’re going to need to survive and you can’t have both.” (You can listen to the full radio show here.)

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is taking a rare step in openly defying the Mayor, released a statement, which said in part:

“We believe our legislation puts the onus on the DOE to provide that a student who arrives at school with a cell phone in the morning should have that phone for use when traveling home at the end of the day.”

Bloomberg Vetoes Bill Allowing Cell Phones Before and After School

The mayor has vetoed the City Council's bill to allow public school children to carry phones to and from school. It's a strange action given that the bill says nothing about what happens inside the school. Apparently, the mayor feels the need to come between parents and children and interfere in this family decision.

Here is what the bill says:
b. Any parent or guardian of any student may provide such student with a cellular telephone for any lawful use en route to and from school. No person shall interfere with the provision of such telephone to, or the use of such telephone by, such student.

c. Any person who is aggrieved by interference prohibited by subdivision b of this section shall be entitled to seek equitable relief in any court of competent jurisdiction.

d. Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect or limit the right of any school or law enforcement official to enforce regulations regarding the use of cellular telephones.
For the full text click here.

The Council approved the bill 46-2 and is expected to override the mayor's veto. Families will then have the law on their side.

InsideSchools has good coverage of the story including press accounts.

UPDATE: The council overrode the mayor's veto to pass this bill into law.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Klein's comments about poor children

See this NY Times column about the controversy over the administration's plan to pay poor kids for higher test scores, covered previously in this blog. Only now the Chancellor apparently has a new rationale for this experiment:

“... Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein esponds to skeptics by arguing that no one has figured out how to get more poorer children engaged in learning. Trumpeting the long-term benefits of education, the better jobs and lives well lived has not worked. Cash just might.”

No one has figured out how to get poor children engaged in learning? Perhaps he might try improving classroom conditions.

The truth is that many experts have indeed figured out how to achieve this. Increased access to preK and smaller classes are two, proven programs that research has repeatedly shown results in more engagement and learning, especially for poor and minority children . Unfortunately, DOE has shown little interest in providing either option; in particular, our classes remain the largest in the state and among the largest in the nation.

The truth is that if some students are disinvested in the learning process it is because the system has not invested in them; their lack of caring – to the extent that it exists -- results directly from the fact that the people who run our schools do not care sufficiently about them.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Joel Bounced to Rubber Room

August 3, 2007 (GBN News): GBN News has learned that in an ironic twist, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has been suspended from his duties and placed in a Department of Education “Reassignment Center”. The reassignment centers, popularly known as “rubber rooms”, are generally used to hold teachers union members who are accused of wrongdoing, while they await adjudication of their cases. For an administrator, especially one so highly placed, to be put into a rubber room is totally unprecedented, but a DOE source attributed the situation to a major glitch in the ARIS computer system.

ARIS, the new DOE $80,000,000 supercomputer, is intended to track students’ progress. How the Chancellor could be assigned to a rubber room by ARIS was not immediately clear. But according to computer science Professor and systems expert Bob Lister, the computer system may have unintentionally ended up to be far more powerful than originally planned.

“$80 million – that’s awfully expensive just to track test scores”, said Dr. Lister. “They must have intended ARIS to do a lot more than that for so much money. But it obviously got out of hand. We may be talking, ‘Open the pod bay doors, HAL.’” Dr. Lister went on to say, “I’m only guessing here, but I think ARIS may have wound up being more powerful than the Chancellor. It saw the Chancellor as a threat to its power, and it moved to eliminate that threat. Computers are programmed to behave like the people who program them. ARIS ‘knew’ that rubber rooms are often used to take potential threats out of commission, like teachers who challenge the ‘system’. Logically, this is just how ARIS would eliminate the threat posed to it by Mr. Klein.”

The DOE source told GBN News that when Mr. Klein reported to the Reassignment Center at 333 Seventh Avenue this morning, it was a Kafkaesque scene. The Chancellor was said by witnesses to be extremely agitated, especially when he tried to sit down and was told that the seat belonged to a teacher who has been in that rubber room for a year. “A year!” the Chancellor was said to have cried. “I can’t stay here for a year. I have to reorganize the school system again!” And Mr. Klein fumed when he was told that he could not use his Blackberry to send emails while in the rubber room.

It is unclear what will happen next. DOE technicians are reportedly working on ARIS to repair the glitch, but for the meantime, Mr. Klein remains in the rubber room, and ARIS appears to be firmly in charge of the DOE.