First, it lays out the landscape Cathie Black will inhabit when she officially takes over as chancellor.
She has asked for time to learn the ins and outs of public education policy, but she isn't going to get it:
There will be no cushy learning period for Ms. Black. She will be entering a treacherous political and educational landscape, far darker than it was just one year ago, when elementary and middle school test scores told a story of continual growth and achievements. Now, more than 100,000 additional students who failed toughened state tests this year need tutoring and help. Up to 47 schools face closing. The teachers’ union, which has been without a contract for more than a year, has been more adversarial toward the city than supportive, a relationship that promises to sour further if the Department of Education continues to back the public release of teacher rankings based on student test scores.
A higher bar for high school graduation — the state will soon require better scores on Regents exams — looms ahead. And after a period of flush budgets, electives, after-school programs and teaching jobs are being cut, with the coming years promising to get only tougher.
Making things harder, a top official who was the Department of Education’s budget expert announced her resignation on Wednesday.
Then it lays out Klein's legacy:
Ms. Black will also face thousands of demoralized teachers, hundreds of frustrated principals, and outspoken local politicians who feel sidelined, as well as high-ranking education officials who are chafing at how her appointment was handled, experts and insiders said.
She will face a complex tempest of political forces, from City Council officials who regularly rail against school closings and other controversial policies, antagonistic lawmakers in Albany, and grass-roots parents groups that align around a variety of agendas. For this reason, her lack of public experience is as much a concern as her lack of educational experience, said Joseph P. Viteritti, a public policy professor at Hunter College who ran a year of public hearings on mayoral control of the schools.
“With all due respect to Joel, who probably implemented more change in New York than any other chancellor, he did not work effectively with people in Albany,” Professor Viteritti said. In New York City, he said, “there was concern, from parents and union leaders — everyone from the chancellor of the Board of Regents on down — that they had a deaf ear.”
At the school level, Ms. Black will find a vibrant landscape of school choice and many excellent schools. But there are also parents and teachers worn down by directives that have focused on basic skill instruction in reading and math to the exclusion of a wider curriculum.
“You need to move away from a test-prep culture, to where kids are getting more exciting offerings from their school,” said Kim Nauer, the education project director at the Center for New York City Affairs. “If there’s one thing a publishing executive can do, it should be find new ways to make reading and writing more exciting.”
Some parents, like Michael Kassin at Public School 187 in Manhattan, heard of Mr. Klein’s departure on the same day as the year’s first parent-teacher conference, just as they learned of their school’s falling performance under tougher state standards. Citywide, the proficiency rate in English fell to 42 percent, from 69 percent last year; 54 percent reached grade level in math, down from 82 percent. “I was shocked,” he said of his school’s B grade, from an A last year.
Even ed deformer Michael Pretilli notes that the worst part of Klein's legacy is how he treated teachers:
Mending the administration’s relationship with teachers is perhaps the most important task for the new chancellor, said Michael J. Petrilli, an education analyst at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington. “For all the great work that Joel Klein did, his biggest failure was in getting excellent educators on board with his reform efforts,” he said. “Anecdotal reports indicate that fantastic veteran teachers — the very people that Klein wanted the rest of the system to emulate — were just as frustrated and beaten down by the changes as everyone else.”
I can only speak for myself and how teachers in my school speak about the last eight years - but what I have seen is an exodus of good teachers, both rookies and vets, out of the system, angered by the constant reorganizations and chaos Klein brought, the changes in structure (from districts to regions to cohorts), the changes in curriculum, the changes in school evaluation, the school closures, the constant testing (both high stakes and "no-stakes"), the derision and contempt he had for teachers and traditional public schools.
The Petrilli remark is particularly important because Klein and his ed deform supporters continually say the most important thing in a student's life is the teacher and they want to make sure that every classroom has a great teacher.
That process starts by making sure the school system has veteran teachers with seasoning and experience who can take younger teachers under their wings and help them through the process of becoming good teachers.
But as Petrilli notes, Klein alienated "fantastic veteran teachers," made them feel "frustrated" and "beaten down" by the constant chaos in the system as well as the disdain Klein had for his teaching corps. in general.
It's difficult to improve a school system when you alienate and demoralize the very people who work in it.
But that was Klein's specialty.
At the end of the day, the ed deformers can talk about how great Klein was and all the great changes he brought about to the system, but the plummeting test scores, the phony grad rates, the hundreds of closed schools, the demoralized teachers, the angry parents, and the bored students who spend all of their seat time on test prep speak much more to who he was as chancellor and the legacy that he leaves as he heads to FOX News.
The fight over getting the list of schools with bed bug incidents was typical of the Klein regime.
While the Klein ed department refused to release that list of schools so that parents and teachers could protect themselves from bedbugs, they were happy to release the list of teacher rankings based upon a valued-added accountability system with a 25% MOE.
It's moves like that which showed the absolute disdain and contempt Klein had for students, teachers and parents and the constant need he had to put his own ideology and agenda above the needs and welfare of everybody else involved in the school system.
I am not happy about Cathie with an "i" Black - whose specialty is downsizing with a smile - taking over as chancellor.
But I am happy Klein is gone.