Thursday, July 2, 2009
Fire Joel I. Klein, the Snake Oil Salesman Without a Contract
Smug with his success at creating a public school administrative structure that denied anyone who disagreed with his policies a chance to speak and that openly violated every law and regulation designed to protect children, teachers, and all personnel in NYC public schools, Joel I. Klein has, for seven years, fearlessly and arrogantly walked amidst a daily hailstorm of anger and opposition from parents and stakeholders because he is immune to all public criticism. Indeed, on Wednesday July 1, 2009, a few hours after the shamelessly fake and deliberately harmful Department of Education went out of existence, Klein was re-appointed unanimously to his position as "Chancellor" in name only (he has no contract - see the letter he was given by Bloomberg which I received after filing a freedom of information request) by the new members of the instantly created New York City Board of Education. I contacted a friend of mine who is an Attorney specializing in contract law, and he told me that all contracts need an expiration date. He said that this letter is not a contract. Somebody file a complaint with the Bar Association and get him disbarred. Please!!!!. General Counsel Michael Best and Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon also must go.
But that's not enough. We must mobilize the entire city to fight what happened on Wednesday July 1, 2009: the undemocratic re-establishment of dictatorial leadership of the NYC public schools under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with a new gang at the helm appointed to MAKE SURE that the Mayor continues his control. Congratulations to Jane Hirschmann from Time Out From Testing for her statement at this meeting.
On tuesday June 30 at 12 midnight Education Law 2590 (scroll down to 2590 -Editor)expired, and the "old" decentralized Board of Education was re-instated. Or so the law said. However, there has been no law-abiding top official at the pseudo city agency, the NYC Department of Education, since its inception in 2002, nor was there anyone who would squeak up about the runaway, fast moving train that ran through all regulations and rights in the law books and threw all of these guides and rules away. It was that bad, folks.
Any opposition or question about what was happening inside and outside of Tweed (NYC BOE headquarters) was met with threats, deliberate harm of the individual making the inquiry, and, if neither of these tactics "worked" to silence the person, then a strategy was put into place to pursue immediate separation of this person from gainful employment. The NYC BOE must protect its' house of straws from any wind.
We know that Mayor Bloomberg demands total allegiance to every decision, whim, policy, and statement. He brought Joel Klein from Washington D.C. because Klein was an excellent protector of Bill and Hilary Clinton's public and private lives while Bill was President. Joel Klein took Vincent Foster's office the day after Foster committed suicide. On wikipedia is this:
"Wrestling with clinical depression, Foster was prescribed the mild sleeping aid/anti-anxiety pill Trazodone over the phone by his doctor, though he only had taken a few before he died. The next day, Foster was found dead in Fort Marcy Park, a federal park in Virginia. He was found with a gun in his hand and gunshot residue on that hand. An autopsy determined that he was shot in the mouth and no other wounds were found on his body. A suicide note of sorts, actually a draft of a resignation letter, was found torn into 27 pieces in his briefcase, a list of complaints specifically including, "The WSJ editors lie without consequence" and lamenting, "I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport."
Linda Tripp, of Monica Lewinsky fame, told Congress that there was only one person she was afraid of in the Washington government: Joel Klein. When asked why, she answered that he kept files on anyone who crossed his path, and went after the person who committed this "crime":
" Printed from JudicialWatch.org
Nov 9, 1999 Contact: Press Office
JOEL KLEIN'S ENEMIES LIST
CLINTON ANTITRUST CHIEF IN WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL'S OFFICE DURING FILEGATE
Tripp Says He Kept "Files on Others," Including Starr's Office
(Washington, D.C.) Joel Klein, the Clinton Justice appointee and Assistant Attorney General prosecuting the Microsoft antitrust case was in The White House Counsel's Office around the time period that Republican FBI files were illegally gathered by the Clinton White House. Indeed, after the death of Vince Foster, Klein filled Foster's job and occupied his office. Linda Tripp, (pictured at right) who worked with Klein, testified in the Judicial Watch Filegate lawsuit that she understood that these FBI files were being uploaded into a computer in the White House Counsel's Office. In the least, Mr. Klein was at "the scene of the crime" around the Filegate time period. Tripp testified that Klein kept files on others, including Ken Starr's office, for intimidation purposes.
Tripp recounted in her testimony how Klein said that being a good lawyer wasn't enough, "that in order to survive, we have to be good politicians too." Tripp also testified that Klein "scared" her.
"Is the Microsoft case a matter of the Clinton Administration once again doing favors for selected Clinton/Gore donors - this time Microsoft's competitors in Silicon Valley and elsewhere?" asked Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel. Klayman was a trial lawyer on the famous AT&T case for the Justice Department's Antitrust Division in the Carter and Reagan administrations.
"The past news that Joel Klein had breakfast at the home of Netscape's CEO just before the suit against Microsoft was filed raises significant questions about Mr. Klein's possible involvement in a political payback," stated Klayman.
Judicial Watch believes the involvement of the Clinton Justice Department's "tainted" political operatives such as Joel Klein has pushed the ongoing antitrust action against Microsoft. The group filed a request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act to see if politics and campaign contributions have influenced its actions against Microsoft. When the Clinton Justice Department failed to respond, Judicial Watch filed suit. The case remains pending and active.
Video and transcripts of Ms. Tripp's testimony about Mr. Klein are available upon request. Ms. Tripp's deposition testimony about Mr. Klein can be found at pages 375-77, 400-05, 485-90, and 798-803 from her testimony of January 5, 1999 and January 22, 1999. The transcripts are available on the Judicial Watch Internet site at www.judicialwatch.org.
© Copyright 1997-2002, Judicial Watch, Inc."
Joel was appointed "Chancellor" pursuant to Education Law 2590, and clause "H" states that he "must have a contract". He never had one. He became head of the new Board of Education, re-named the Panel For Educational Policy, (pictured below at the May 2009 meeting) to provide an alias for the group as they violated Open Meetings Law and their own Bylaws. For example, teachers were terminated behind the closed doors of Executive Sessions held before the public PEP meetings began. This violates Open Meetings Law Section 105. Another example of the PEP members' disdain for the rule of law is that the PEP Bylaws require a Secretary (Section 1.5) - who happens to have been General Counsel Michael Best - who must write the minutes. There are no minutes.(I filed a freedom of information "FOIL" request).
The By-Laws state that every year there will be a "review, evaluation, and assessment of the Panel's role and functions for the purpose of identifying and implementing changes that will improve its effectiveness." (Section 1.6, p. 5). In answer to FOIL requests made for these assessments, Michael Best wrote that the PEP has no official or administrative function, and there are no reviews of the PEP or of the performance of Joel Klein. So in March, 2004, I wrote what I thought Joel Klein's Performance Review should look like.
Patrick Sullivan told me on September 18 2008 at a meeting with Senator Liz Krueger on a third term for Bloomberg that there was a RAND report given to all PEP members (indeed, he had it in his hand as he told me about it) that Mr. Klein had told him and all PEP must not be given to anyone. I asked Patrick for a copy of this report as a member of the public and a concerned citizen, but he refused, and said that he would check with the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, the person who appointed him. Neither Stringer or Sullivan ever replied to my request. Stringer susequently made his support of Mike Bloomberg publicly known by appointing his Attorney Jimmy Yan to the "new" Board of Education on July 1, 2009. The NYC BOE answered my FOIL for the RAND document with "sorry, this request is denied". I'm appealing.
Scott Stringer is now on the list for removal from office by the parents and teachers of the NYC public schools.
I am a proud voter, and one of the most outrageous policies of the 2002-2009 Department of Education was the removal of participation by anyone "outside" of the clique of Bloomberg/Klein teletubbies. We, the general public, have no vote, and therefore we have no representation of our interests at Tweed. The Community Education Councils are, in my opinion, entities full of people who want to look good and act like they have power but dont. CEC members are elected by "selectors" picked from the positions of President, Secretary, and Treasurer of Parent Associations. The people "represented" by the "selectors" are not similar to the diversity of New York City public school parents/guardians. The lawsuit brought by a man named Kramer in 1969 to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kramer v Union Free School District won the right of all taxpayers to vote for their district school board. NYC has no elected school board, and the general public now has to take the "new" Board of Education as valid until we as a class action or as a critical mass of concerned citizens get our legislature to change this. Teacher Hipolito Colon sued Joel Klein, and others (NYSUT has since been removed as a Defendant) in October 2006, and this case now has survived two motions by the City of New York to dismiss. New York State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower has said "no" to dismissal, twice. The public thanks her for her stand against all odds.
Beth Fertig of WNYC wrote the follwing about the PEP:
"WNYC News Blog
Mayor’s School Panel: An Advisor or Rubber Stamp?
By Beth FertigMay 18, 2009
Legislators have spent much of this year holding hearings on the issue. Supporters of the mayor credit him with school improvement; but critics claim he’s abusing his authority. Much of the controversy has to do with an obscure panel that meets once a month. In the summer of 2002, Albany gave Mayor Bloomberg something previous mayors had only dreamed about: control over the nation’s largest school district. Finally, the mayor could appoint the Chancellor, not the Board of Education. He wouldn’t have to fight any more with board members who could reject his proposals. The board was replaced with a new Panel for Educational Policy, an advisory body. And most of its 13 members would be appointed by the mayor and answer directly to him.
Bloomberg was in great spirits that July when he announced the seven educators and business leaders he’d appointed to the panel.
“Let me remind you that unlike the past Board of Ed, these members are all volunteers. They do not get a salary. They do not get a car and driver. They don’t get all of those other perks (laughter). We didn’t tell you that?”
It was a light-hearted moment. But the mayor grew serious when a reporter asked him how much independence his panel members would be allowed to exercise.
“Their job is to give advice to the chancellor. Not advice to the press. I do not expect to see their names ever in the press answering a question either on the record or off the record. That’s exactly what’s wrong with the current system right now. And it’s not going to happen. It has not happened elsewheres in this system and I would not tolerate it for 30 seconds.”
The mayor was true to his word. In 2004, Bloomberg removed three panel members right before they could vote against his plan to stop promoting third graders who scored poorly on state exams.
Since then, education groups and parents routinely refer to the panel as a rubber stamp for the mayor. But one former legislator who co-wrote the law putting Bloomberg in charge of the schools says that wasn’t its intention.
“While it was certainly the intent of the state legislature and the governor in 2002 to provide significant mayoral authority, it certainly was not the intent to provide mayoral autonomy.”
Steve Sanders is former Chairman of the State Assembly’s Education Committee. He’s now lobbying for the New York State School Boards Association, which worries about the precedent in giving a city mayor so much power. Sanders says the 2002 law was designed so the panel could provide real oversight of the mayor’s leadership. But he says Bloomberg is violating the spirit, if not the letter of the law, by not using the panel as a real sounding board.
A New York Times analysis found the mayor’s seven appointees miss, on average, a quarter of the monthly meetings. Three of them were absent at last month’s meeting in the Bronx, where several parents testified that there weren’t enough seats in the new construction and renovation plan. Josh Karan came from Washington Heights to address the meeting.
“Seven schools still have trailers, we have buildings without gyms, auditoriums, art rooms, lunch at 10 a.m.”
A few minutes later, the panel’s chairman, Chancellor Joel Klein, called for a vote on the $11.3 billion capital plan. It passed with only one dissenter, Patrick Sullivan.
Sullivan is the Manhattan Borough president’s appointee to the panel, and often the lone dissenter. Each borough president gets an appointee. Sullivan says the lopsided vote shows why the law needs to be clarified to give panel members more oversight over matters like contracts and the school construction budget.
“The key thing is everybody understands there’s limited resources and prioritization. But we have to have a real planning process with a real needs assessment and explain this is how we determine how many seats are needed in what parts of the city and it’s just not there.”
There are several proposals for strengthening the panel. The teachers union and a group called the Parent Commission believe the mayor should no longer appoint a majority of its members. Harlem State Senator Bill Perkins thinks this would be good for democracy.
“If you can’t but mimic the mayor then you are denying the public that alternative voice, that alternative idea, that kind of debate that our democracy is built on.”
But Mayor Bloomberg and his supporters argue the public schools are NOT a democracy. That was the problem with the old board of education, says Bloomberg, which was dominated by special interests.
“The bottom line is when you have these committees, what happens invariably is somebody doesn’t like change, change is scary. And with the more people you have more likely you’re going to have one person who doesn’t like any given change. And I can’t think of any change that would have passed if you go by committee if you go back to the old Board of Ed days.”
Bloomberg says the current system is working and the rising test scores are proof. He also notes that President Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, has endorsed keeping mayoral control in New York.
But New York’s model of mayoral control has fewer checks and balances than in other cities. Boston, Chicago and Oakland, for example, all have mayoral control but their school boards get to pick the superintendent – and in Oakland some board members are elected. Joseph Viteritti, a professor of public policy at Hunter College, wrote a book called “When Mayors Take Charge.” Viteritti concludes that the mayor of New York should control the Panel for Educational Policy. But its members should have fixed terms, so they can debate issues without the fear of being removed.
“I think it’s important to have a board that reviews policies and that requires the chancellor to explain policies in a public forum and have an open discussion about them and have hearings about it. I mean, one of the things that the old Board of Education did right, and there weren’t many, was that there was always a public discussion about issues.”
Viteritti was on a committee appointed by the Public Advocate to study mayoral control. It also called for giving either the state or city comptroller more power to audit the school system. And it recommended that community education councils, or local school boards, have more power in approving superintendents and the opening and closing of schools. Parents have complained about feeling shut out.
Albany lawmakers will decide next month on whether to renew the law or amend it. Both Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith have said they want to keep the mayor’s majority on the Panel for Educational Policy. But Queens Assemblyman Rory Lancman says lawmakers are considering other changes to provide more parental input because they’re getting an earful from their constituents.
“When parents call my office or talk with me about their child’s education it’s at a much greater intensity than it is when they’re talking about garbage pickup or state of their parks. And parents want an opportunity to be involved in the decision making process regarding their kids education.”
Lancman says that should be a warning to Mayor Bloomberg. If he doesn’t give some ground to parents, lawmakers could make a deal without him because local politicians are the ones most likely to feel the wrath of the voters."
Now, that's where we are at.- Betsy Combier, Editor
A second-grade student at Public School 130 in Chinatown working on an interactive chalk board. As annual school spending has risen to $22 billion, the Bloomberg administration has given principals more responsibility and control over their school budgets, as well as higher pay.
July 1, 2009
With More Money, City Schools Added Jobs
By JENNIFER MEDINA and ROBERT GEBELOFF, NY TIMES
In the seven years since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took the reins of the city’s schools, he has rolled out numerous statistics as proof of his accomplishments, including rising graduation rates and test scores.
But one of the clearest ways to see what he and his schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, have done with public education is to track what they have done with its money.
They have overseen a large expansion in annual school spending, to $22 billion from $13 billion, with the additional money pumped in from Mr. Bloomberg’s budget and from the state. And that has allowed them to reshape the system to reflect the central elements of the mayor’s philosophy: smaller schools, relentless assessments of progress, and higher salaries for administrators to attract top talent.
A New York Times analysis of seven years of education spending has found a number of changes in how dollars are allocated. There are now 1,075 more principals and assistant principals, even as overall student enrollment has fallen, largely because the city has broken up a number of underperforming schools into smaller schools. There are more administrators, like academic coaches who track test scores, and more support staff, with tasks like patrolling hallways and monitoring attendance.
And more administrators are earning top dollar. The number of employees making more than $150,000 has risen to 240, up from 175 in 2002, when those salaries are adjusted for inflation. The number earning at least $125,000 has more than tripled, to 1,935.
Some shifts were driven by necessity. While the number of teachers in regular classrooms has dropped, hundreds more special education teachers were added to keep pace with a 26 percent jump in students needing those services. There are also thousands more special education assistants and therapists.
Much of the increase in the overall budget has been used to pay for rising teacher salaries, pensions and benefits, as well as the growing debt for new school construction.
But in many ways the spending patterns reflect the Bloomberg administration’s mindset that money attracts people who can bring business-world success to the public arena. Mr. Klein has supported salaries reaching nearly $200,000 for several of his deputies, saying that the pay reflects their qualifications and responsibilities, and that they could be earning far more in the private sector.
Education Department officials say that the size of the teaching corps is in line with the student population, which dropped to 1,029,459 in 2008 from 1,091,717 six years earlier, and that having more support staff frees teachers to concentrate on the classroom.
Mr. Klein has also pushed principals to take on greater responsibility, and his ideal, he has often stated, is to allow principals to spend their money as they see fit. They can decide, for example, whether to hire another math teacher or to use the money for after-school programs instead. In concert with this philosophy, many of the highest-salaried employees today are principals, not administrators: 53 principals made $150,000 or more last year, whereas none were earning that much as recently as 2006, when those salaries are adjusted for inflation. That does not include performance bonuses of up to $50,000 for principals of schools that perform well on standardized tests.
“There is absolutely a priority to attract and keep the best talent, and there is no doubt better pay helps us with that,” Mr. Klein said, adding, “When I tell people that they can earn $200,000 for being a principal in New York City, that really gets them paying attention.”
In line with the mayor’s affinity for using numbers to judge success, one of the largest areas of growth in the central administration has been in the department’s accountability office, which measures performance on state tests and issues school report cards.
But as legislators decide whether to keep city schools under the mayor’s control, one of the major criticisms is that the school system itself could be more accountable, particularly in the way it spends money.
Since 2002, the department has remained in a gray area of being technically neither a state nor city agency. It has come under repeated criticism from the city comptroller, who is Mr. Bloomberg’s likely opponent in the November mayoral election, and other officials for awarding contracts without bidding, a practice generally prohibited in other city agencies.
“Right now, we don’t have all the information we need,” said Ronnie Lowenstein, the director of the city’s Independent Budget Office. “People come to us and say, what does this mean, how much are we really spending, what are other ways of looking at this?”
Legislation passed by the State Assembly would hand oversight of the department’s budget to the Independent Budget Office, which could have the ability to independently assess other numbers, like graduation rates and school-level spending. The change has not been opposed by the mayor, and Mr. Klein has said that he would welcome an outside agency looking more closely over the department’s numbers.
“I think much of this is politics,” Mr. Klein said in an interview last week. “We have always been open to oversight and we have been audited repeatedly.”
It is still unclear whether the State Senate, stuck in a leadership battle, will pass the Assembly’s bill or press for more changes to the law. Mr. Bloomberg’s control of the schools was set to expire at midnight Tuesday, meaning that the schools could revert to supervision by an independent Board of Education, although most officials believe the mayor would be able to maintain stewardship until an agreement in Albany is reached.
The new billions result partly from Mr. Bloomberg’s spending decisions, and partly from a lawsuit filed by a group called Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which successfully argued that Albany was shortchanging the city’s schools. But the group is not necessarily pleased with the results.
“You would think that the school of today compared to the school of yesterday compared to the school of seven years ago would be a richer environment, that there would be a rich art curriculum or more intimate experiences,” said Helaine Doran, the deputy director of the group. “There is just no tactical feeling that things are any better.”
The sheer size of the department’s budget makes it unlike any other city agency. The city’s next largest agency, the Human Resources Administration, which administers welfare, has about $9.2 billion, less than half of the education budget, according to the Independent Budget Office. The Police Department spends $7.3 billion.
Mr. Bloomberg has spoken proudly of trimming the central administration. “You can’t say, ‘Let’s cut the bureaucracy,’ ” he said in January, amid budget negotiations in Albany. “We have taken $250 million out of the bureaucracy and moved it into the classroom. We have streamlined everything we possibly can.”
The overall increase in school spending is partly attributable to increased teaching salaries and pensions as well as paying off debt for school construction, which has more than doubled in the last six years. The mayor has raised teacher salaries 43 percent through contract negotiations, with the average salary now at $70,104.
Generous pensions have been won over many years by the teachers’ union, a consistently powerful force in Albany, where pension laws are passed. The mayor and the teachers’ union recently reached an agreement, which still needs legislative approval, to trim the cost of pensions for future hires.
Significantly, the Bloomberg administration has also shifted more responsibility and control over school budgets to principals.
Lily Woo, the principal of Public School 130 in Chinatown, said she has been able to take money that in other years would have been spent on hall supervisors and reallocate it to buy supplies like computers and smart boards, which combine technology with traditional chalk boards. Funds that would have been used for a single reading teacher have instead paid for extra hours for a teacher already on staff to work with small groups of children during their lunch time or a free period.
“If you asked schools to effect change without letting them control their money,” she said, “it would be like giving a cook a Bunsen burner and telling them to make a four-course meal.” The number of regular-classroom teachers has dropped by more than 1,600 to 61,549 since the Bloomberg administration took over, according to the Times analysis, which used seven years of payroll data, budget documents, audits and statistics produced by the department at the request of The Times.
Meanwhile, the costs of special education teachers, as well as their assistants and supplemental therapists, has soared along with the number of special education students: 103,228 last year, up from 81,268 in 2002.
There are 4,500 new school aides, who typically supervise lunchrooms and school yards. More than 2,000 secretaries who previously worked in district offices, which lost much of their role, now work in the schools, according to Education Department data.
Over all, enrollment has declined, and the average class size has shrunk about 5 percent from kindergarten through eighth grade, to 23.3 from 24.5. The department’s stated goal is 20 students per class for kindergarten through third grade, but it does not have a target class size for grades above third.
The teacher-to-student ratio, which includes teachers in areas like physical education or lab who are not assigned to particular classrooms, has decreased slightly: to 1 to 15 in 2008 from 1 to 16 in 2002.
The centralization of the school system has allowed the city to do away with administrators who once worked in regional or district offices. In their place, for example, the Education Department has increased the number of education analysts and education officers, to 724 from 415 in 2002. Lawrence E. Becker, the head of human resources for the Education Department, said that those titles could include everything from a central administrator looking at financial data to a school-based worker monitoring student test performance.
The number of lawyers has also nearly doubled, to 118. Education officials say the additional lawyers are needed to more aggressively pursue teacher discipline cases and to handle a growing number of lawsuits asking the city to pay private school tuition for special education students.
Efforts at Accountability
Chancellor Klein has attracted dozens of administrators who had little experience in public schools. Many came from careers in law or business, with hefty salary requirements. James Liebman, the department’s chief accountability officer, who also teaches part time at Columbia Law School, made just more than $196,000 in 2007, when Chancellor Klein earned $250,000, the same salary he has received since he began in 2002.
“Many of these people could be earning far, far more in the private sector,” Mr. Klein said. Referring to the deputy chancellor who oversees political and labor relations, he added: “Somebody like Chris Cerf could be earning well over $1 million if he were out practicing law.” Mr. Cerf earned $196,575 in 2008.
Photeine Anagnostopoulos, the department’s chief operating officer, said her $177,000 salary was less than what she earned in her first job after graduating from business school 25 years ago.
Of all the changes Chancellor Klein has made during his tenure, perhaps none has attracted more attention than the power he has given to the Office of Accountability, which has created several systems to track and measure student performance and improvement in the schools. According to Education Department numbers, the office grew to about 110 people in 2008 from about two dozen in June 2001.
Officials say the growth reflects the fact that the office’s role has undergone big changes in the last several years. The office now issues annual letter grades for each individual school in addition to developing ways for principals and teachers to monitor student improvement. According to The Times’s analysis, the accountability office payroll totaled $9.4 million in 2008.
Critics have accused Mr. Klein of putting too much faith and money into the accountability office. Last fall, the Independent Budget Office released a report estimating that the department would spend more than $350 million on accountability-related measures from 2007-9. The department objected, saying that the audit included several costs that could not be directly attributed to the office. For example, according to the department, $17.6 million was spent on school inquiry teams, including school staff.
“This is the backbone of the system,” Mr. Klein said. “Without accountability, you spend all the time arguing over what you spent the money on, not what results you got for that money.”
KLEIN ON 'BEST YEAR': I'D GET A FOR EFFORT
By YOAV GONEN, Education Reporter, June 26, 2008 --
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said it was the best year of his tenure. There were gains in state reading and math scores and incentive programs for teachers, principals and students. Klein touched on these issues, and some controversies, in an exclusive interview with The Post.
Q: You've talked about how smoothly the school year started - did it stay that way?
A: What surprised me was how smooth it was given all the changes we made. Remember, we eliminated the regions, downsized the bureaucracy, downsized central [administration] and brought in all the school support organizations. That's a lot of stuff, if you will, and compared to the first reorganization, there's no question that this was much smoother.
Q: What are some of the highlights of the school year?
A: I think the major highlight of the year is the [test] results. I'm a results guy, and the results were big. Probably the second major thing was the implementation of the accountability system, which I believe is long-term, big and meaningful . . . The charter scores were really dynamite. To have charter schools in the city of New York that are 92 percent African-American and Latino, 80 percent poverty, performing at the same level as the state of New York or even a little better is really a remarkable thing. [And] we got a pay-for-performance deal with the UFT [United Federation of Teachers].
Q: Speaking of charters, there is some opposition growing in District 22 to the Hebrew Charter School that could open there in 2009. Are you concerned at all that it's going to turn into a lightning rod the way [Arabic-themed school] Khalil Gibran did?
A: I hope not. We've done [dual language] schools with such success . . . I think [the Khalil Gibran issue] was a combination of two unfortunate things - a lot of misunderstanding about what Khalil Gibran was about and then a real focus on the principal, the original principal, and I think that created some noise. I hope this Hebrew charter school - which again will be dual language, which has got zero religion to it - will be successful, but I guess we have to stay tuned.
Q: Was there anything you wish had gone differently - like the teacher-tenure legislation [not allowing school districts to use student performance in tenure decisions] in Albany, for example?
A: I wish it hadn't occurred. On the other hand, I think it did surface the issue really at the national level . . . I clearly wish that the economy was otherwise and we wouldn't have to go through budget cuts. But by and large I thought this was a smooth year.
Q: What about complaints about the report-card grades for schools?
A: The report cards were probably one of the noisy periods. But . . . I can't tell you how many principals said to me, 'You know, chancellor, I didn't get the right grade but I promise you I won't get the same one next year,' so I think that had a big impact.
Q: Where do things stand on the budget cuts - is there any hope that Albany is going to loosen restrictions on the funds at this point?
A: I don't believe that's going to happen . . . We are looking at a variety of strategies.
Q: Like what?
A: I'd rather not get ahead of the story.
Q: If you had to assign a grade to yourself for the school year, what would it be?
A: This was in my view the best year we had. I always like to say the grade is 'A' for effort and other people can grade our performance.
Q: What's next?
A: Now that we have so much information . . . we're going to be able to really home in on what schools made real progress. We're going to [focus] on which schools are really moving the English-language learners, which schools are moving in special education.
Q: What's in store for you after Bloomberg's term ends - would you like to stay on as chancellor?
A: I would like to keep serving . . . I think education is going to be a part of my life. I'm now doing this national [equality] project, which I'll continue to push on . . . I've got many, many things that I want to do - not the least of which is to write a hell of a book about my 7½ years as chancellor.