Archives for category: Klein, Joel

Jelani Cobb graduated from Jamaica High School, as did many other distinguished Americans. In a powerful story that appeared in The New Yorker, Cobb tells the history of Jamaica High School as a paradigm for the clash between race and reform. Jamaica High School was long considered one of the best high schools in New York City in the 1980s. As the city adopted reform after reform, the school went from an integrated model to a highly segregated school; it enrolled growing numbers of students who were learning English or had disabilities. Other schools lured away top-achieving students. When the Bloomberg-Klein regime took over, Jamaica’s days were numbered. The staff and the local community fought for the survival of the school, but Bloomberg-Klein gloried in closing large high schools and stuffing them with multiple small schools with multiple principals. The school that once enrolled over 3,000 students held its last graduation ceremony in 2014, with a graduating class of only 24 students. This is a very sad story about the abandonment of schools that suffered from the reformer conceit that low scores=bad schools. Jamaica in its final years was serving the neediest of the city’s students; it was put to death by the authorities.

Cobb writes:

Underscoring the indignities that attended the school’s last days was a difficult irony: for much of its time, Jamaica was a gemstone of the city’s public-education system. In 1981, the schools chancellor, Frank Macchiarola, decided to take on the additional role of an interim high-school principal, in order to better appreciate the daily demands of school administration. He chose Jamaica, and was roundly criticized for picking such an easy school to lead. Four years later, the U.S. Department of Education named it one of the most outstanding public secondary schools in the nation. Alumni include Stephen Jay Gould, Attorney General John Mitchell, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Walter O’Malley, Paul Bowles, and three winners of the Pulitzer Prize: Gunther Schuller, Art Buchwald, and Alan Dugan. Bob Beamon, who set a world record for the long jump in the 1968 Olympics, graduated with the class of ’65. The school’s closure felt less like the shuttering of a perennial emblem of stagnation than like the erasure of a once great institution that had somehow ceased to be so.

Jamaica had become an institution of the type that has vexed city policymakers and educators: one charged with serving a majority-minority student body, most of whose members qualified as poor, and whose record was defined by chronic underachievement and academic failure. Even so, word of the school’s closure angered students and their families, the community, and alumni. I was among them—I graduated with the class of ’87—and for me, as for many former students, the school was a figment of recollection, frozen in its academic glory. George Vecsey, the former Times sports columnist and a member of the class of ’56, accused Joel Klein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s schools chancellor, of “cooking the books,” to make schools slated for closure appear worse than they were, and compared the Department of Education’s closure policies to the nihilism of Pol Pot. Vecsey later apologized for having slighted the suffering of Cambodia, but he held to his contention that Klein ruled by dictatorial fiat. He wrote, in a blog, “The city destroyed a piece of history because of its own failure.”

Julian Vasquez Heilig combed through the Podesta emails released by WikiLeaks in search of education-related comments. He found quite a few.

Reach your own conclusions.

I don’t think he included this one, where the Clinton campaign reacts to a question from the AFT about whether Joel Klein is involved in the campaign.

Education Week reported the story here.

Klein’s company Amplify lost about $500 million, when it was owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Murdoch dumped it, and Laurene Powell Jobs picked it up for the Emerson Collective, probably for a song.

But Klein is still in the money. Despite the epic failure of Amplify, Rupert Murdoch is paying him $4.6M per year to sit on the News Corp board. (And don’t forget that he filed for a pension from New York City for the eight years he spent as Chancellor, closing schools and opening charter schools.)

Klein is now working as “chief strategy” officer for the failing Oscar health insurance company, which is also losing millions fast. Klein has not had much luck in the business world. This company was co-founded by Josh Kushner, the brother of Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner.

This morning, Amplify laid off two-thirds of its staff–some 800 people. Amplify is a division of Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. Its CEO is education reformer Joel Klein. Murdoch invested $1 billion in Klein’s Amplify. NewsCorp has been trying to find a buyer for Amplify since it has never earned a profit in the five years of its existence. This past year it lost $371 million.

“In a tweet this morning, Alex Modestou wrote that Amplify Education laid off 800 employees today. The Observer has reached out to the company to confirm. NewsCorp has been looking for an investor to take over the division, as the Observer previously reported.

“Multiple sources inside and outside the company said that most of its staff lost their jobs today, effective immediately, at around 10:30 a.m.

“Mr. Modestou told the Observer in a phone call that he worked part time on the math curriculum for the company in its Durham office, before being let go today at 10:30 a.m. Mr. Modestou wrote the tweet, he told us, because full time employees had been offered three months salary in a lump sum in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. He did not sign because he was not offered any kind of package.

“He said, “This is like the cold, inhumane hand of capitalism at work, and it seems wrong that they could stay in the shadows.”

“The 800 employee figure was based on an estimate Mr. Modestou made based on documents he’d seen before leaving. When Amplify announced it was first looking for a buyer, he said that people in the company had warned staff to expect layoffs of a sixth of the company. That rose to half over time. If 800 people were laid off, that would be roughly two-thirds of the reportedly 1,200-person company.

“Another source told the Observer in a phone call that employees in New York City were taken to meetings in the company’s Manhattan office and its Dumbo offices today. Employees in the Manhattan office were told that they were either keeping their job or they would be staying longer to help with the transition, in some new role.

“Mr. Modestou said that he and his fellow employees were told by Amplify CEO Joel Klein and Amplify Learning President Larry Berger via a conference call. We’ve also heard that this is how employees sent to the Brooklyn office were told. Mr. Modestou described the call for us, saying that “They didn’t say anything but ‘we’re letting you go’ in very lawyerly terms.”

“He added that the pair added a note of appreciation for their service and an apology that they had let the company grow larger than its revenue could support.”

One of the major initiatives of Mayor Bloomberg’s Department of Education was the development of a new IBM computer system called ARIS (Achievement Reporting and Innovation System).

According to a story by Ben Chapman in the Néw York Daily News, the city DOE is killing the system because so few parents and teachers use it.

The $12 million contract to maintain the system was held by former Chancellor Joel Klein’s Amplify, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

When Klein was chancellor, he awarded a contract to fix ARIS to a company called Wireless Generation. Soon after Klein stepped down as chancellor, Murdoch bought Wireless Generation for $360 million.

Be very careful about claims of schools that miraculously “turned around” in a matter of months or even in a couple of years. The usual formula is: fire everybody, hire a new staff, and the students become brilliant.

But then Gary Rubinstein investigates, and the miracle dissolves under his careful analysis.

Here is one. Gary writes that Joel Klein in his new book boasts of the amazing turnaround that happened when he shuttered Paul Robeson High School and opened P-Tech. Only a year and a half later, President Obama praised P-Tech in his State of the Union address.

But the high school scores were released a few days ago, P-Tech was one of the city’s lowest performing schools. Gary wrote, “This could be the most un-miraculous miracle school I’ve ever investigated.”

Another school in the news is Boys and Girls High School, also in Brooklyn. The media has been demanding that it be closed down because of low test scores. But its scores are much higher than those of the celebrated P-Tech!

Gary wonders whether reformers will start demanding that P-Tech be shut down.

Phil Cullen writes The Treehorn Express in Australia. He regularly reports on that nation’s slavish copying of the worst American ideas, especially testing and accountability. The Australian national testing program is called NAPLAN.

FELLOW EDUCATORS : Please send this along to people in schools as extensively as you can. Those who already do…..thanks from Treehorn and the other kids.

The Treehorn Express
http://treehornexpress.wordpress.com

Teacher Proofing

USA has a penchant for branding and packaging things as neatly as possible. As far as schooling is concerned, a canny money-hungry educator can extract bits from the regular school curriculum, invent a catchy vogue-word to describe what-ever-it-is that needs attention, then wrap the contents up and peddle it to the gullible. Bingo! Legs 11 ! Holidays at Waikiki. If it cannot be wrapped up, it is branded and sold in bulk…. as ‘Models’….. by sweet-talking peddlers at conferences and seminars;…. and cocktail parties..

This comes as little surprise when it is a fact of life that schooling in America is owned and dominated by well-heeled corporate plutocrats., whose political influence in the other three English-speaking GERM countries is becoming as extensive as it is in the old US of A. The teacher-proofing edubusiness is big time and is exercised in many forms. Its enormity and influence is far, far more extensive than the ordinary Michael Dundee Aussie would believe.

Sage educators in the UK and in NZ don’t usually do this. Despite the heavy hand of neoconservatism that all countries share, they have always tended to treat teaching as a noble profession that actually pupils [aka teaches] children according to each child’s frame of reference. The child is the package. The teacher’s role in the act of teaching and evaluating and moving ahead is total. Unsubstantiated, untested, unprofessional, gimmicky quackery stops at the classroom door of their lively learning centres, where the child is treated as the centre of the universe and its performance is judged by its interest in learning. Diagnosis and evaluation is part of each activity. A school’s reputation is based on the way it treats children. If parents want to know about the best school around, they go to a reliable source…..the shopping centre…get the real deal……certainly not to unreliable, crooked test results, used by the unwitty for comparative purposes..

Of the four English-speaking, politically-controlled education systems – the GERM countries – Australia religiously follows what the USA does; no matter what… blindly as a rule. It’s all high stakes data-laden emotion-free performance-testing stuff which Americans love. Aussie unemotional, couldn’t-care-less, morally corrupt testucators now use it without second thought. Bugger the feelings of kids. Obediently, we followed the ‘Kleinist Model’ holus-bolus, called it NAPLAN, and continue to maintain its demonic philosophies with the sternest controls possible…. Iraq-like.

How many of us teachers have tried and become enthused – for a while – by some such package, only to find that the package takes over the teaching? Precious school time is devoted to completion times and corrections while our own professional judgement and modes of evaluating take a back seat? In ancient times, I was an SRA structured reading and IMP specialist. Mea culpa. I hope such indiscretions are forgivable.

How often have we been seduced by brand names for special movements and innovations; and have crossed swords with colleagues until things settled down and the next craze came along? We have discoursed about…. open and traditional…. phonics and whole-word….new maths and maths…persuasive and traditional…..child-centred and subject centred….composite and multi-aged….charter and mainstream…..education and testucation….child-based and didactic….?

There is a new list on the way from up-above…..data-driven instruction, blended learning, differential learning, closing the achievement and talent gap, student-centric instruction, yap, yap. Makes one ever wonder what ever happened to classroom teaching as a descriptor?

In America it is said: “Schools nationwide continue to adopt student-centric instructional models that use data to empower teachers and engage learners. Data-driven instruction has moved beyond the education-buzzword sphere to educators’ daily lexicon.” So, Kleinism aka Naplanism is now permanently embedded in many of that nation’s schools…..more so in ours. The article continues : “In this ASCD Smartbrief Special Report, we provide a round-up of news about recent trends in data-driven instruction, blended learning and stories about how some schools are preparing the next generation of data scientists.” Getting everybody ready to be rocket scientists! Thinkers and learners?

Read this? ……some schools in Utah have lengthened the school day from six-and-a-half hours to eight to cope with data collection and marking. There is a national lobby for longer school hours. “The National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) is dedicated to expanding learning time to improve student achievement and enable a well-rounded education. Through research, public policy and technical assistance, we support national, state and local initiatives that add significantly more school time for academic and enrichment opportunities to help children meet the demands of the 21st century.” [Using didactic instruction for eight hours per day shouldn’t be very exhausting, compared to three or four hours of serious teaching, should it? Good idea?]

Whatever happened to test-free composite-strategy teaching ? [That’s a new vogue word that I just invented to keep up with the Yanks]

The sorts of initiatives that we have imported [e.g. charter schools] and embedded in the data-laden environment of NAPLAN and its hellfire cobbers are a serious threat to our future. Such restrictions to serious school learning will continue (“The whippings will continue until morale increases” policy. ) in Australia while we continue to adopt the American mind-set. Schools in Australia are not run by teachers any more, but by remote control.

Political control of national testing programs is the most successful method of isolating teachers from effective teaching known to mankind; and that kind of conditioning suits the package-deal spirit of teacher-proofing.

Coercion always induces low level acceptance of a profession as a profession, so the outcome is that better teachers are quitting; neophytes with potential don’t last long; and better-quality applicants don’t want to join the profession because of our leaders’ grossly unprofessional attitude to children and their teachers. Make no mistake. This is a critical issue.

The Deseret News of Salt Lake City makes this point following an America of the future conference: “The level of despondency within the profession is too high for our future to be safe. A fairly dispiriting conversation, to be sure, but the response to the host’s penultimate question left me feeling downright sad at first, and, then, upon reflection, a bit confused. Replying to the query ‘Do you think the quality of teaching will decline in the years to come?’ each panellist explained her sense that the profession and, thus, the state of education were in decline. To paraphrase the veteran teacher of the group, ‘I’ve encountered many great teachers in my years in the profession, but it’s getting harder and harder for these folks to hold on. At the same time, it’s getting more difficult to attract new people into teaching.’ Listening to that assessment about a core element —the core element?— of our public education system, how can you not become despondent?”

With the teacher-proofing of Australian schools based on the American MODEL, how can we not feel even more despondent down under? Let’s bring the child back into the equation, get rid of the rubbish and start TEACHING. {PLEASE NOTE. Those teachers who fly in the face of the coercion and teach without reliance on data…..please hang in there. The kids need you.}
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If you wish to receive The Treehorn Express direct, please contact me.
cphilcullen@bigpond.com

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Phil Cullen {…..kids and their teachers first} 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486 Australia 07 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com
http://primaryschooling.net/ http://kelleyandcullen.net/ http://qldpriaryprincipals.wordpress.com

Over the past dozen years, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his schools’ chancellor Joel Klein had total control of the New York City school system. The Mayor controlled the “school board,” which dared not ever vote no. They could do whatever they wanted, and their PR team cranked out press release after press release. The news of the “New York City miracle” spread around the world, buoyed by phenomenal test score gains every year. Australia and other nations swallowed the story whole.

When the New York State Education Department admitted that the test scores had been manipulated by lowering the passing mark, the city switched its success story: now the “miracle” was soaring graduation rates.

But all the while, the Department of Education was closing schools with low scores, opening new schools, and warehousing low-scoring students in schools that sooner or later would also be closed. Schools opened, schools closed. She’ll game.

Now the New York Post tells the story of what was once a well-regarded high school that was turned into a dumping ground. After the Post wrote about Murray Bergtraum High School as a failure factory–a school that is within sight of the New York City Department of Education headquarters, at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge–students at the school wrote letters of complaint to the Post. The letters were filled with errors of grammar and syntax. The Post took this as evidence of a failed school system. The letters are indeed evidence of the quality of the school system where these students spent 11 or 12 years.

If they graduate, it will be a triumph of “credit recovery,” which the DOE encouraged to boost the graduation rate.

Conclusions: there was no New York City miracle. Judging school quality by graduation rates encourages credit recovery and fraud. What’s needed most now is a Truth Commission to sweep away false claims and to establish a record unsullied by boasting and pretense. It is not likely to happen, unfortunately, given that the de Blasio administration wants to ease quietly into a new and better world, without publicly airing the dirty laundry left behind. More revelations like this one, however, and the truth will out.

The principal of PS 106 in Far Rockaway, now in the news for its lack of curriculum or books, is a graduate of New York City’s vaunted Leadership Academy.

When Joel Klein took charge of the New York City schools in 2002, one of his earliest “reforms” was the creation of the Leadership Academy, a fast-track program for new principals. Originally, it was funded for three years with $75 million from the business community. Its inspiration was Jack Welch, the legendary tough guy from GE, who sometimes gave speeches to LA recruits and imbued them with his philosophy of stack-ranking and firing the bottom 10% of workers.

In the “bad old days,” pre-Klein and Bloomberg, educators became principal by first spending several years as classroom teachers, then several years as assistant principal. Only after they had deep experience were they eligible to apply for the important job of principal.

Klein had no regard for experience in education; he possibly thought it was a handicap that locked educators into old ways of thinking. It was innovation he wanted, so the Leadership Academy was created. Its first CEO was a businessman from Colorado who brought his large staff with him and commuted to Denver on weekends. When he left after a few years, the program was handed over to a professor at Baruch College who taught leadership classes but had never been a principal. Joel Klein was chairman of the board of the Leadership Academy.

After the three years were over, the Department of Education had a competitive bidding process for an organization to run leadership training, and–wonder of wonders–the Leadership Academy won $50 million for five years.

Meanwhile, the pre-Klein educators scoffed at graduates of the Leadership Academy. Some schools and districts were told they had to hire them. To career educators, their lack of experience was a minus, not a plus. Imagine how assistant principals with a dozen or more years in the system reacted when they learned that their new principal had been a teacher for only one or two or three years.

Yet, outside of New York City, the Bloomberg PR machine told about the amazing principals its Leadership Academy created in only one year. Other districts and states began copycat programs.

In the dying days of the Bloomberg administration, the Leadership Academy got a new contract for $45 million.

Marc Epstein taught at Jamaica High School in Queens, New York City, for many years. The school is under a death sentence, which means the end of many programs that served children with different needs. Here he makes a plea to Mayor de Blasio to save some of the doomed schools.

A De Blasio Clemency?

 

 

This is the time of year that governors and the president issue pardons and clemencies.  They are issued to prisoners who have either been exemplary citizens during their incarceration or set free because extenuating circumstances indicate that their punishment didn’t fit the crime.

 

Mayors aren’t granted this kind of executive power, but this year Bill De Blasio does have the executive power to call a halt to the systematic elimination of several of New York’s comprehensive high schools that have had their fate sealed by Michael Bloomberg’s school closing policy.

 

Ostensibly, these school closings were to result in improved student performance in small schools that were placed within buildings occupied by the traditional high schools. It was an idea hatched by Bill Gates, an idea that he abandoned long ago.

 

In the waning days of his mayoralty, Bloomberg has embarked on a citywide tour, touting his legacy.  The papers have dutifully transmitted City Hall’s talking points, with hardly a demurral finding its way onto the printed page.

 

The Wall Street Journal’s 3,000 word “Bloomberg Reshaped The City” article credited the record high 60% high school graduation to Bloomberg’s stewardship of the schools and politely left out the inconvenient statistic that shows a record high number of New York’s high school graduates are unprepared for college and require remedial courses in math and English.

 

In an interview with Joel Klein, Bloomberg’s schools chancellor for over 10 years, that appeared in the Scholastic Administrator, Klein expressed his hope that the next schools chancellor will continue Bloomberg’s education legacy.

 

If only Mayor De Blasio will pick “someone who is committed to building on the progress of the last 11- plus years,” Klein’s tenure won’t have been in vain, at least according to Klein.

 

If that should be the case, we should prepare for record numbers of meaningless diplomas, more school closings, an unstable teacher work force, and a school system where academic apartheid defines education opportunity.

 

Record numbers of students now use mass transportation to get to the “school of their choice.” Why have 250,000 students using mass transit when many of them could walk to school instead, is a question that has gone unasked and unanswered by reporters and politicians for over a decade.

 

The community has been de-coupled from the neighborhood high school, because hardly a neighborhood high school exists anymore. The result is that parental participation suffers, after-school activities suffer, and the community suffers.

 

A record number of students attend boutique schools that screen their applicants.  I estimate that close to 10% of the seats available to high school students are now reserved for these students.  Most of these students used to help make up the population of the traditional high schools.

 

When Jamaica High School was handed its death warrant, the Department of Education, fearing a backlash from parents who simply didn’t buy the line that Jamaica was a failed school, cleverly carved a Gateway School out of the Gateway program that had existed in Jamaica for about 20 years.

And then, miracle of miracles, the new Gateway High School received an “A” on its report card!

 

Is there a serious argument that can be made for a public policy that is perpetually closing and reopening school houses because they are “failed”?

We’ve all heard of the Amityville Horror, but does that mean we should treat the schoolhouse as we would a haunted house?  But if closing and opening hundreds of schools is the new normal, we’d do better to hire Shinto priests to exorcise the evil spirits in these buildings rather than renaming and re-staffing them.

 

Our lowest performing students usually carry baggage that includes unstable home life, poor to no healthcare, limited language skills, and physical impoverishment. 

 

If instead of further destabilizing their school environment, Mayor Bloomberg had thrown his energy and resources into creating schools along the “Comer Model,” he might actually have had something to show to the public. 

 

The Comer school model developed by Dr. James P. Comer at the Yale Child Study Center has been around for close to fifty years and has a proven track record in addressing the problems of low achieving students in the inner city. But the lure of the well-meaning philanthropist with no expertise proved irresistible.

 

Instead, we are left with the tired litany of the teachers and union as villains, and the mayor and his minions as heroic for taking them on. But beneath the surface Bloomberg has created a highly segregated school system that keeps the disadvantaged far away from the middle classes and the upwardly mobile.

 

If Mayor De Blasio wants to reverse this death spiral, he’d do well to grant clemency to schools like Jamaica High School and Beach Channel High School and give them the resources they need to make them work for the children and their communities.

 

In their heyday comprehensive high schools included students who were on multiple career paths. There were differentiated diplomas and a multiplicity of choices. The students might not have attended all the same classes together, but they played on the same teams, shared the same teachers, and developed mutual respect for one another.

 

Inexplicably that has been destroyed, and instead of these students existing side by side with each other in the same community, they live and learn as peoples apart.

 

When this consideration is no longer a part of our education system we all become impoverished.  Clemency is one way to begin turning this around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an article in the New York Times magazine, Joel Klein asserted that his company’s products were needed because spending on education had doubled in recent decades had doubled but achievement remained flat. This assertion was wrong but went unchallenged.

In this article, Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute sets the record straight.