Joel Klein On The New School Year

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein looks ahead to the new school year and responds to this year’s dramatic drop in student achievement.


Joel Klein

Comments [32]

Bob from Forest Hills

Education in the NYC public school system began its decline with a fundamental structural change: the abandonment of “tracking” (placing students in classes with those of similar ability) and replacing that model with “mainstreaming” (mixing the classroom with children of widely varying learning abilities). Reputable studies conclude that grouping children of similar capabilities helps the class and teacher accelerate and facilitate learning. Research indicates that teachers teach to the ability level of the 23rd percentile of their class, ergo the more heterogeneous the class the lower the level and slower the pace of instruction. It’s time to go back to what made the NYC school system produce excellence rather than mediocrity.

Sep. 06 2010 11:45 AM
Ann_Kjellberg from New York City

For information on what the tests are really test and what the results really tell us, see Daniel Koretz, "Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us," (Harvard, 2008) and Diane Ravitch "The Life and Death of the Great American School System" (Basic, 2010). I wish interviewers and reporters would read a bit before they talk to Klein, instead of just accepting his sound bites.

Aug. 19 2010 01:59 PM
Mayra Bloom from Nyack, NY

Joel Klein made [at least] two statements that need to be looked at very critically:
1. "We have to bring more knowledge to the students."
2. "We will be covering more subjects next year."
are not flukes; Dr. Klein is operating without an understanding of how people actually learn and on premises that have long been discredited.
Both statements exhibit adherence to a "banking" approach to education that entails teachers "pouring" deposits of knowledge into students' passive brains. The educator's job is not to "cover" more subjects; it is to identify the student's strengths while addressing weaknesses; engaging the student's curiosity and desire to succeed; connecting the student with materials that match his interests; and creating / maintaining a relationship that permits all this to unfold. The administration's job is to ensure that schools have the resources needed to accomplish this. Until the Chancellor really understands what the learning process is about, we will not see meaningful improvement in the schools.

Mayra Bloom
Mentor in Educational Studies, SUNY/ Empire State College (retired)

Aug. 19 2010 11:43 AM
Josh Karan from DIstrict 6 Washington Heights

I perceived this interview to reflect lack of preparation on Brian's part. He did not display knowledge of the facts, sufficient to challenge the Chancellor's partial truths.

The reality is that many other cities in the US have done better than NYC on the national tests --- Atlanta, Boston, Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego. (see chart by Gotham Schools

Klein also usually basis his assertion of achievements on a calendar begun in academic year 2002-2003, when there were gains, but none that could be attributable to what he did, because his DOE did not make institute new policies until September 2003.

Most gains have occurred in the past few years, reflected in the 4th grade scores. The 8th grade scores, for students who have spent their entire schooling under Bloomberg-Klein, are amongst the worst in the nation. So at best, it has taken the administration 4 years to get anything right, at the expense of tens of billions.

As this week's PEP meeting demonstrated, they have no plan for massive immediate intervention for those students who now know that the tragic previous assertions of their progress was bogus. They have no plan as to how to raise the educational content, rather than the test scores, of even those who do graduate, 50-75% of whom need remediation at CUNY colleges.

Brian addressed none of this. It was an unprofessional interview,leaving listeners with little ability to evaluate the assertions of the Chancellor.

Aug. 19 2010 11:05 AM
Susan from Upper West Side

I disagree with Joel Klein that the fact that more upper middle class parents are going to PS87 is due to improvements. My son entered PS87 when it still drew half the children from other parts of Manhattan. What has happened is that more Upper Middle Class parents moved into the neighborhood and with the downturn in the economy, could no longer afford private school.

During my son's tenure, the school had three changes of principals. Diversity dropped considerably. Many programs were dropped because of overcrowding. I actually had to teach my son how to do long division before the statewide tests this year. During the entire fifth grade, his teacher barely touched division. We loved almost all of his teachers at PS87 because they soldiered on despite the administration, but I cannot say that leadership from the top was anything other than a hindrance. I do not consider the school to be as good when my son left as when he started.

Aug. 19 2010 10:45 AM
Bah Humbug

If he can't negotiate with the union over something as simple and logical as the holiday, how will he ever get concessions over larger and more important issues?

Aug. 19 2010 10:39 AM
Stuart from upper west side

Perhaps PS 87 is overcrowded (and other highly rated schools too) because the system has allowed for students who start at a school to continue at the school even if the family moves out of the zone, district, or borough. This "rule" needs to change.

Aug. 19 2010 10:38 AM
Abby from Manhattan

Speaking as a student who had to take these tests, they were completely unnecessary. We would stop learning for a few months to take precious time to work on the ELAs. Last year, I applied to private school and took the ISSEE exam. It was a rude awakening. The ELAs did not prepare me whatsoever, a private tutor did. Now, I am going to the second best high school in this country (not public) and the ELAs did nothing to help me get in.

Aug. 19 2010 10:36 AM
rexx from Manhattan

1. Isn't Klein a total failure? Eight years of an experiment on our kids and no progress?

2. Wasn't claiming progress on flawed tests a lie?
Wasn't he promoting and firing teachers on the basis of these flawed tests? And telling parents which schools are good on the basis of these tests? And so if he knew these tests were flawed why did he give all this bad advice and claim progress that didn't happen?

3. Shouldn't he just resign?

Aug. 19 2010 10:34 AM
Mike from NYC

(I'd like to say that while I have studied education and have degrees from Columbia Teachers College, I am not and have never borrow a phrase from an earlier time...a teacher in the NYC system and so have no particular axe to grind.)
Mr. Klein's administration seems to focus attempts at accountability primarily on the teachers. Anyone who has systematically observed schools knows that failing schools have incompetent and/or corrupt principals and assistant principals in an overwhelming percent of other words failures of leadership. But principals seem to be protected and trusted while teachers are vilified and blamed for failures of misconceived policies that they no part in creating.

Aug. 19 2010 10:34 AM

The Times editorial _fails_ to recognize that, even though the city did not administer the tests, it is still quite possible that Bloomberg and Klein participated in the deception of the public. They did just that.

Aug. 19 2010 10:32 AM

My husband is in his third year of teaching. He came in as an NYC Teaching Fellow. This year has been his best in terms of having a group of kids eager to learn and happy to be in the classroom. Yet, he got their scores this morning, and they're not good compared to last year, which means he will get a below-average rating as a teacher. Those scores are what he will take with him if he ever wants to teach anywhere else, but it seems like the high regard his kids and administration have for him is meaningless compared to this obsession with standardized testing. The standards change year to year by bureaucrats, but the teachers are the ones who are blamed for the scores.

Aug. 19 2010 10:32 AM
Baba from Brooklyn

Public School education in big cities like NYC are a joke. It is a systematic attack on the public school systems around the country that have large concentrations of minority kids.
Thus it does not matter if it is LA, NYC, Atlanta etc.
Since 1970's systematically education in public schools in large cities have been diluted and dumbed down.
In a way the white majority ( sub consciously) has said if you want civil rights fine, we will give you that but we will discriminate you not based on race/color but now use education as the qualifier and you can see the stats on how many public school students from large cities make it into premier universities of the land. Sure there are the magnate schools like Stuyvesant High etc as models to show, but the large majority end up in community colleges and may possibly endup with low level jobs and continue to sustain the stereo types we have.

Aug. 19 2010 10:30 AM
Dave from Washington Heights

I am a NYC public teacher and listening to Joel Klein speaks makes it sound like he has never stepped foot in a school. There is a complete disconnect between what he is saying and what I am seeing in my school.

Aug. 19 2010 10:28 AM
Downtown Mom

What is the Chancellor doing about the overwhelming segregation of Manhattan high schools?

Aug. 19 2010 10:28 AM
rachel from nyc

Sadly, NYC public school students are not afforded a cummulative education. Their test results show this when the test is not dilluted to an embarrassing level. Learning to learn rather than learning for "the test" are two entirely different things. NYC teachers take six weeks every year to "teach to the test" - As a parent of two NYC public school children I have watched precious time wasted on test prep rather than great curriculum. It is really disheartening.

Aug. 19 2010 10:28 AM
Maria from Queens

I've been a teacher for 10 years and have never had an updated classroom library, any classroom supplies nor any computers (I bought my own laptop) - how does Chancellor Klein expect me to bring techno-savvy kids into 21st century learning?

Aug. 19 2010 10:27 AM

Is Joel Klein what the business school windbags mean by "best practices"?

Aug. 19 2010 10:23 AM
another teacher

I assume that when the chancellor is talking about going up 11 points, he means in the percentage of students scoring proficient. But since that measure of proficiency was artificially low, all that was really measured is that 11% of kids went from one artificial level to another. Maybe the rest of the state didn't have those results because they didn't have as many kids scoring below that artificial level in the first place!

Aug. 19 2010 10:22 AM

What I'd like to know is, how did everything get dumbed down to begin with? What are the nexus of factors that caused this?

Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.

Adjunct Professor
Rutgers University

Aug. 19 2010 10:21 AM
Jack Cazes from new hyde park, ny

Please ask the Chancellor if he is aware of how many freshman community college students have to take remedial courses, such as arithmetic? This is a direct reflection of how poorly our city students are really doing.

Aug. 19 2010 10:21 AM
Kathleen from woodside

Parents need to understand it is not just the school's job to educate their children. Ultimately if a child is growing up in a culture that doesn't promote academic achievement, parents not reading to their young children, and are speaking Spanish at home - the children are going to be behind in school. Asian children are coming from homes that demand academic achievement and this is why they are ar the top of these achievement tests.

Aug. 19 2010 10:17 AM
cynthia from brooklyn

I am a NYC public high school teacher. I'd like to know how Joel Klein feels about alternative assessments for NYC (performance based assessment, for example), and whether the city needs to rethink it's assessment measures. If so, how will this affect our students' standing by state and national standards?

Aug. 19 2010 10:16 AM

Getting test results quickly has been an issue. If the teachers have the results, they can identify where the kids are falling short.
Is result speed being addressed?

Aug. 19 2010 10:15 AM
Melanie from Brooklyn

A question for Chancellor Klein, I'm wondering about his thoughts on the LA Times' proposal to publish individual teachers' students' test scores in the newspaper.

DOE teacher

Aug. 19 2010 10:14 AM
J. Roinos from Brooklyn

Klein is making a case that the results he has created as Chancellor are acceptable. However, he is closing schools for maintaining or making small margins of improvement. Why is his job judged by different standards then the schools and teachers he is in charge of??

Aug. 19 2010 10:14 AM
Lori from forest hills

my son is a math wizz - he did not score below 90 on any test this year - he is in fifth grade, and got 100% on the state test the last 2 years - this year he got a 3! I know that it is not correct!!!

Aug. 19 2010 10:14 AM

Joel Klein sounds like a Goldman Sachs accountant! Just juggle the numbers and the lies to make things look like what they are not.

Can we finally lay to rest the nonsense about business executives like Klein or Bloomberg being especially qualified to run schools or cities because they bring "business practices" to the public sector.

Klein is a liar, reviled by parents and teachers.

Aug. 19 2010 10:13 AM

As a NYC educator, I'd like to ask the Chancellor how do we as educators make parents more accountable for their children's education. Parent involvement is crucial. We have a population of students that with parents who have been failed by public education and are apathetic. How do we systematically TRAIN parents to help their children????

Aug. 19 2010 10:13 AM
Ken in Manhattan from Manhattan

People who say that “tests don’t measure everything” should be asked how they know this to be true? Do they have access to a secret data source that contradicts the test results?

Or is this just a non-scientific, “gut feeling” they have, based on personal experience, rumor, and anecdote?

If we are not basing high-stakes decisions on test data, on what should we base them?

Aug. 19 2010 10:11 AM
RJ from Prospect Hts

When asked about the lack of change in the gap between black and hispanic kids and white and asian kids, both chancellor klein and mayor bloomberg say that even with the change in grading methodology, there has been improvement. But that is apples and oranges. The fact of the matter is, comparatively, black and hispanic kids are still doing no better than white and asian kids, by similar percents, as when bloomberg and klein took control. And that is a massive, massive failure of their approach.

Aug. 19 2010 10:05 AM
stuart from upper west side

1) School year calendar - why start the school year on Wednesday Sept 8th, only to have the schools closed the next 2 days for Rosh Hashanah, when it might have been wiser to start on Monday Sept 13? (Will Chancellor Klein be praying for divine guidance to make better decisions?)

2) Overcrowding - my daughter is entering 1st grade at PS 87 on the Upper West Side, which many consider to be ground zero in the overcrowding debate. The school was so overcrowded that there were 9 kindergarten classes last year instead of the usual 5 or 6, forcing the opening of a new school containing 3 elementary classes per grade to be housed in the junior high school across the street. Can the Chancellor guarantee that our 4 year old son will be able to attend the same school as his sister?

Aug. 19 2010 09:47 AM

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