Testimony From New York on Klein’s School Reforms

I’m so glad you’re looking into Joel Klein’s record in advance of his trip to Australia. Here in New York City we are amazed and appalled that people outside our school system are so snowed by the Klein reforms.

Pretty much anyone in New York who has a kid in the system or who works in the system outside of “central office” hates these policies. It’s a triumph of public relations. There are so many things to get enraged about it’s hard to know where to begin.

The whole system of accountability is a disaster. Basing teacher pay, school budgets, principal promotions, admissions to selective schools, etc., etc., etc. all on a limited number of high stakes tests is statistical hooey, and has real damaging consequences for hundreds of schools and thousands of children.

The reorganization of the schools’ bureaucracy to centralize and, basically, computerize all decision-making has left the system without local eyes and ears and principals without real supervision or support.

The reforms are all about creating carrots and sticks, and do nothing to improve instruction or provide schools with real means to improve student performance. The Department of Education laughs at concrete improvements, like class size reduction, that could help struggling kids in a difficult world. Constituent participation has been surgically excised from decision-making, in the name of “accountability.”

All around the world kids have real needs that public education should be struggling to meet, and their guardians are being sold a bill of goods by these glorified management consultants. Please ask the kinds of real questions that few are asking here of the Joel Klein education reforms.

Ann Kjellberg
Public school parent,
New York City

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