Monday, February 23, 2009
Will Bloomberg dump Joel Klein?
By Jacob Gershman, New York Magazine, Feb 20, 2009
Earlier this month, New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, once a star White House litigator, thought he had presented a solid case before the State Legislature. He pointed to small gains in graduation rates, a spike in fourth- and eighth-grade math proficiency, and signs of a narrowing gap in achievement among the races. Then he said, “There is a lot more work to do.”
But he may not be the one to do it. The seven-year “experiment” in mayoral control of the schools comes up for renewal this June, and legislative approval of its continuation might come at the price of the chancellor’s job. The day of the hearing, the lawmakers let their feelings toward Klein be known in no uncertain terms. (“Hogwash! … Your superintendents control nothing,” declared one assemblyman. “We have no choices. We’re overcrowded,” said another. “You’re violating the law,” squawked a third.) After the hearing, Bloomberg’s lobbyists were overheard bemoaning “how much the legislators hate Klein,” says a City Council member. Klein later dialed lawmakers one by one to calm them down. “There was a feeling it was too little, too late,” says an Assembly source.
Which means Klein’s days as education-reform bad cop might soon be over. Dennis Walcott, the deputy mayor for education, says, “There’s no space between the mayor and chancellor. There’s total alignment. They have honest direct interaction with each other and they will continue to form that strong partnership into the third term, if there is one.” But others aren’t so sure. “There’s no question [the mayor’s] going to get rid of him,” says a City Council member. Bloomberg’s “more convinced than ever that he’s created so many enemies.”
Klein, even more than his aloof boss, was never a particularly charismatic technocrat. He grew up in public housing in Queens, and comes off as a street-tough nerd, with a blunt style and a way of speaking that makes him sound angry even when he’s not. Both he and Bloomberg are self-made sons of bookkeepers, tenacious, restless, corporate-minded, and distrustful of ideology and public-education orthodoxy. Over the years, Klein has also been helpful to the mayor as a target for lawmakers, parents, and teachers. Bloomberg bought peace with the teachers union by increasing teacher pay by more than 30 percent and conveniently left Klein in charge of the bloodier battles over spending, restructuring, teacher firings, and teaching to the standardized tests.
Which means that the problem for Klein is not so much in the data (though critics have accused him of juicing the numbers) but himself. This is a big problem for Bloomberg’s dreams of a third term as “education mayor.” He can’t pay off the United Federation of Teachers, which sat on the sidelines last election, with a better contract this time. “If the UFT decides, based on Klein, to oppose Bloomberg, you’re talking about a lot of troops on the ground,” says labor activist Jonathan Tasini. Knowing this, the union is said to be pushing the mayor to sacrifice Klein. While lawmakers have piled on the chancellor, UFT head Randi Weingarten has restrained her attacks in recent weeks, stirring speculation of a pact with Bloomberg. Walcott says, “The mayor is not one to make deals for anything that sacrifices individuals.” But on the question of Klein’s fate, Weingarten answers gamely: “I’ve found the mayor easier to deal with and more responsive than the chancellor.”
The "Who Are You Kidding??" Award Goes To: Joel Klein, New York City Board of Education Pretender
Editorial: The New York City Department of Education is a Sham and Mike Bloomberg is the Flim-Flam Man
AS PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA CLEANS UP WASHINGTON, DC -
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SHOULD CLEAN UP THE NYC SCHOOLS SYSTEM
The unforgivable havoc which former Federal Prosecutor Joel Klein, Esq. has visited upon one million children and their thousands of dedicated teachers, is a crime of epic proportions.
Dictators, whether of banana Republics or large nations, generally possess certain predictable mental characteristics in common. That is to say, an exaggerated opinion of their own native intelligence, (completely out of all proportion to objective reality) and an almost delusional sense of certainty that they, and they alone know what is best for everyone else.
One can compose a list of any dozen "dictators" at random, from the entire history of civilization, and discover this to be true. Joel Klein, Esq. is no exception to this rule. In fact he is the "poster child" of this idea.
Once decorated personally by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as a Teacher of the Year, I was the Senior member of the faculty of the High School of Art & Design on Sept 26, 2004, the day Klein's Dept of Education had me removed from the building when I refused to surrender taped evidence of Federal Civil Rights violations occurring at my school.
The Principal at the time, was allowing a physically adjoining predominantly White Elementary school to use the second floor of my school to expand its stellar Music Program, while simultaneously denying the legally required subject of Music to her own predominantly Minority (Black and Latino) students.
I had previously written to Chancellor Klein of similar serious Federal Civil Rights violations occuring at my school in an Oct 2, 2003 letter - a letter which initiated a blistering Whistle-blower retaliation war against me by Klein's numerous lapdogs, lackeys and assorted enforcers.
This case, N0. 08-CV-7673 (DAB)(KNF) is now in the Federal Courts.
Joel Klein, Esq., a "legend in his own mind", will be relegated to the scrap heap of history soon enough. But Mayor Bloomberg and one million school children, their teachers and their parents, would be well served by replacing Chancellor Klein at the earliest opportunity.
David Pakter, M.A., M.F.A.