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Joel Klein’s Report Card

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November 11, 2010 05:32 pm


Lots of coverage today on Joel Klein’s resignation as school chancellor of New York City public schools and the appointment of Cathleen Black as his successor. The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial praising Klein’s progress in improving the city’s schools:

Education reformers tend to react to the ferocious opposition of the status quo in one of two ways: Either they fade away in resignation, or they become even more radical. Joel Klein did the latter, which is why he leaves New York City’s 1,600 public schools and 1.1 million students better than he found them…Mr. Klein leaves with much of that work uncompleted, but with reformers on offense and the public more engaged. Mayor Mike Bloomberg has chosen former media executive Cathie Black, another education rookie, as the next chancellor. Lack of experience in this failed system can be an advantage, so long as Ms. Black has the toughness to take on the teachers unions and their political retainers on the city council, the state board of regents and in Albany. She should worry when they start to praise her.

The New York Times ran two stories, the first focusing on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s secretive path to finding Klein’s replacement and the second on the state’s decision over granting Ms. Black the permission to take the job. The Times editorial board chimed in writing:


School reform is, by definition, an incremental process in which school leaders build on the accomplishments of those who came before them. Future schools chancellors in New York City will benefit from several important reforms put in place during the tenure of Joel Klein, who resigned this week after eight years as chancellor under Michael Bloomberg, the first mayor to have direct control of the nation’s largest school system…Mr. Klein’s resignation comes at a challenging time for the city’s school system. With layoffs likely, union negotiations stalled and new state standards on the way, his successor will need to be a quick study. Given all this, David Steiner, the state education commissioner, needs to thoroughly vet Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed successor, the media executive Cathleen Black, to determine if she is up to the job.

The Times also ran a graphic summarizing Klein’s work around education spending, teacher and school leader salaries, student math proficiency, and graduation rates. Across the Asian, Hispanic, African American and white student populations, the number of students earning a high school diploma improved during Klein’s tenure. The chart shows that minority student made the greatest improvements.


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