Friday, July 11, 2008

Mr. Klein Sets a Benchmark

At the end of a long run of PR victories, NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein has established a truth squad. This will help ensure that the truth never gets in the way of the perceptions he and Mayor Bloomberg have worked so hard to establish. In fact, Mayor Bloomberg himself is appearing on a series of commercials trying to reinforce the notion that handpicked test score improvements have to do with his "reforms."

But that's not all Mr. Klein is doing:

...the Leadership Academy – created by Joel Klein, with Joel Klein chair of the board, Joel Klein who had selected the other board members, Joel Klein who had appointed the director, Joel Klein who had raised $75 million in private money to start it through the Fund for Public Schools, an organization which is also chaired by Joel Klein….had now been awarded a $50 million contract by Joel Klein...

This suggests that Mr. Klein (who left this Leadership Academy board a month ago, convincing the tabloids there's no conflict of interest) will be able to extend his influence well beyond his actual tenure. The article suggests Mr. Klein may now simply grant himself a contract to control the schools for the next twenty years. That certainly jibes with the chancellor's philosophy.

After all, the chancellor has been suggesting for years that we eradicate tenure and seniority rights for working teachers. UFT President Randi Weingarten likes this idea so much that she's sponsoring a Green Dot charter school that does just that (no wonder Rod Paige adores her so).

If only individual teachers would follow in the Chancellor's footsteps, there's be no need for tenure. Teachers could simply negotiate multimillion dollar contracts with the city and stay on well after their ideas were welcome. And the whole "accountability" thing would be moot, as teachers could offer the city programs just as flawed as the Leadership Academy (or the 80-million dollar computer that doesn't work, or the bus fiasco, or real test results, or massive overcrowding...) and make a neat profit for accomplishing nothing whatsoever.

It's sad that most teachers with records as abysmal as Mr. Klein's flee the profession. Mr. Klein has set a standard here, and working teachers hindered by a sense of responsibility will probably just continue to teach kids.

Some people just don't know when to grab an opportunity.
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