Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home.
November 23, 2011
On July 30, 2011, thousands of public school teachers rallied on the southwest corner of the Ellipse, near the White House. Union members mingled with the occasional communist pamphleteer, and, on a temporary stage, a series of activists, students, scholars, and teachers put forward variations on a theme: Standardized tests and corporate interests are ruining public education. Late in the program, the actor Matt Damon showed up and began chatting amiably with an older, gray-haired woman sitting next to him on the stage. It turned out he wasn’t the only star in attendance.
Innovative No More
April 04, 2011
Last May, then-New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein traveled to Jerusalem at the invitation of Mayor Nir Barkat. After several of Klein’s other overseas trips, school administrators in places like Australia and England had subsequently spun off some of his favored policies, particularly the controversial school grading system he had put in place in New York. In Israel, Klein again hammered home the values of accountability and bold, rather than incremental, change that he had pushed in seven years leading America’s largest school system.
The Good News About New York Students' Test Scores
August 04, 2010
New York got some tough education news last week: Proficiency on standardized tests, given to students in grades three through eight, is down. Way down. Statewide, the pass rate for math fell from 86 percent to 61 percent; in reading, it plummeted from 77 percent to 53 percent. In New York City, the rate in math dropped from 82 percent to 54 percent; in reading, it fell from 69 percent to 42 percent. The state recalibrated its tests this year, making them tougher and raising the scores needed to pass.
Is Education on the Wrong Track?
March 21, 2010
From: Kevin Carey To: Diane Ravitch, Ben Wildavsky, Richard Rothstein, and Andrew Rotherham Subject: School improvement has to happen now, not at some magic moment when the conditions are just right. Also, surely we can find common ground on charter schools. Richard, I sometimes wonder why you bother to write about public schools. You seem to have very little interest in the practice of education itself.
Innovative Ideas, Meet Hackneyed Battle Lines
November 05, 2009
The day before President Obama spoke in Madison, Wisconsin, about the pressing need to improve America's teachers, a report was released on the same topic at a conference in Washington's swanky Capitol Hilton. The task force that wrote the report was chaired by Minnesota Governor (and rumored 2012 presidential candidate) Tim Pawlenty and included such education policy heavyweights as New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee.
Forgot To Mention...
July 29, 2009
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. has a fiery article in The Huffington Post today in which he demands that the city get rid of Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. "In eight years as chief executive of the city's school system, he has consistently embraced measures designed more to sell the idea of a system helping our students to attain critical achievement goals than to target those goals directly," Thompson says of Klein.
One does not expect to see New York's school Chancellor Joel Klein on the same stage as Reverend Al Sharpton. Klein is infamous for his emphasis on test scores and shutting down schools that fail to measure up. Not so long ago, Sharpton was in the barricades with Russell Simmons protesting mayor Michael Bloomberg and Klein's plan to cut New York City's education budget. Yet these days the two are teaming up for the Education Equality Project, which seeks to close the achievement gap between white and black kids in public schools.
December 24, 2008
In November, Barack Obama bewildered education reformers by tapping Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor who had advised his campaign, to oversee the transition's education policy team. Their verdict was swift and harsh. "Worst case scenario," wrote Mike Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank, the day after The Wall Street Journal leaked the news. "This is a sign that the president-elect isn't a bona fide reformer," he later told me.
June 19, 2007
I've met the mayor twice. I do not know him. The Bloomberg Tower in New York is one giant glass peep-hole. From anyplace inside the office parts of the building you can see everyone else. It was designed by Pelli, pere et fils. I expected something more chimerical. What we got was a spy's dream. Otherwise, I like him. I certainly like what he is trying to do, with my friend Joel Klein, for New York education. Well, yes, I do have some hesitations about some of that also. Is he going to run for president?