Andrea Gabor recently attended an invitation-only event in New York City to meet Joel Klein at Teach for America headquarters in lower Manhattan, where he reflected on his legacy.
How did Klein feel about his legacy—what was he most proud of, what would he do differently—especially in light of the policies of his successor?
This would be the second question of the evening posed to Klein. And the former schools chancellor’s response, at first, surprised me.
What he most regretted: “We never got teachers on our side. We didn’t communicate and listen well enough.”
However, Klein quickly followed with what he was most proud of: Opening 200 charter schools.
And, where he saw the biggest problem in New York City schools: The teachers union “polarized” the teachers.
Here, in a nutshell is the contradiction—even the tragedy—of the Bloomberg/Klein regime: Klein, a child of a “dysfunctional inner-city home”, who saw public school as his refuge and claims that his teachers made the difference in transforming his life, sees the proliferation of charter schools, not the improvement of public schools, as his most important legacy. (A biography, incidentally, not unlike that of former Education Secretary John King, another reformer who prioritized privatization and carrot-and-stick policies for teachers.)
It is hard to remember now how disliked Klein was by teachers, not just the union. He turned the schools into a test-and-punish experiment where teachers were expendable. He closed many schools, closed almost every large high schools, fired most of the city’s principals or drove them away, including some of the best veterans. He gave preferential treatment to charter schools, especially Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies.
It is hard to know why Klein dislikes public schools as much as he does. It wasn’t based on his experience as chancellor. He came into the job with a strong conviction that the …read more
Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core