Joel I. Klein served as chancellor of the 1.1-million student New York City schools system for eight years. Klein is leaving the post at the end of the year, and will become an executive vice president of the News Corporation.
In August 2002, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg selected former corporate executive and Justice Department official Joel I. Klein to become chancellor of the nation's largest school system—a system that had just come under mayoral control. "I believe he will deliver to this city what we promised—a quality education for all of our children," Mayor Bloomberg said when he announced his decision. Mr. Klein has since overseen a number of aggressive reform efforts, including a stringent evaluation effort for each of the system's 1,400 public schools and the introduction of value-added assessment of the city's teachers. On Nov. 9, 2010, Klein announced his resignation after eight years and many struggles.
Often it’s left to the history books to judge the results of big-city education reform efforts years later, but outgoing New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein got a preview this week of the legacy of the far-reaching—and controversial—initiatives that he and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have pushed over the past eight years.
Joel I. Klein, the combative and controversial chancellor of New York City’s public schools, announced on Nov. 9, 2010, that he would be resigning at the end of the year, leaving behind a school system fundamentally changed from where it stood when his tenure began.
In an Education Week commentary, Michele Cahill and Robert L. Hughes write that a recent study of New York City's small-schools initiative, an effort that was led by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein, “brings encouraging news for those seeking to produce rapid progress at scale in high school reform.”
The nation’s largest school district is engaged in a fierce debate over the merits and drawbacks of mayoral control as a legislative deadline looms for renewing the governance arrangement. Mayoral control, Chancellor Joel I. Klein said, aligns accountability and authority for schools. "I think the basic structure is sound, but there’s no question that any structure can be improved," he said. "It’s not about whether it’s a perfect law; it’s about whether the law provides the right governance structure."
Following New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein's announcement that he wanted to begin rating teachers in the nation’s largest school system on the basis of their students’ test scores, Thomas Toch, co-director of Washington think tank Education Sector, writes that "standardized-test scores aren’t the simple solution they seem to be."
The Broad Prize honors large urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement. The selection committee said that the New York City district stood out for raising student achievement to a greater degree than other disadvantaged districts in the state had done, for reducing the achievement gap between minority and white students, and for helping greater proportions of African-American and Hispanic students achieve at high levels.
Signaling a new phase in the reorganization of the country’s largest school system, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein unveiled plans last week to grade all of the city’s 1,400 public schools on student performance and the quality of instruction. Under the accountability plan, schools that fail to measure up could face leadership changes or restructuring. At the same time, Mr. Klein pledged to continue efforts already begun to give principals added decisionmaking authority and to give educators more data with which to gauge student progress.
The decision by New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein to mandate "progressive" approaches to teaching, reading, and mathematics in all but the highest-performing of the city's 1,000 schools has been noted, and landed Gotham at the center of the continuing debate over how best to teach the three R's. Several local scholars questioned that research base in the New York approach shortly after Chancellor Klein announced the city would adopt Month-by-Month Phonics and Everyday Mathematics as the main reading and math programs.
Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has said he wants to steer more of New York City's best principals to its lowest-performing schools. His remarks have fueled speculation that contract talks with administrators might yield changes in the way the system deploys its school leaders. While a spokesman for the chancellor's office said last week that officials there would not comment on the ongoing collective bargaining process, it's no secret that Mr. Klein considers strengthening school leadership a hallmark of his improvement strategy for the NYC school system.
The man heading the New York City schools is quick to admit that he knows case law better than he knows school management. But he has a bold proposal to make nonetheless: If you give me some time, I will turn around the biggest school system in the country. Since Joel I. Klein came aboard two months ago as chancellor, he has revealed few specifics on how he plans to improve schools, and last week's speech was no different. But he did share his views on the magnitude of the change that is needed and where the locus of change should be.
Following weeks of speculation, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last week tapped Joel I. Klein, the former federal official who prosecuted Microsoft, to be the first mayor-appointed chancellor under the new governance system for the New York City schools. "He is a visionary," the Republican mayor said as he introduced Mr. Klein during a July 29 news conference. "This indeed is a historic time," Mr. Klein said. "I intend to seize the opportunity."
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