Klein on Charter Schools

It’s fair to say that Joel Klein has made some slips as chancellor of the New York City schools. It’s also fair to say, however, that his intentions are right, his instincts mostly so, and he’s wrestling with an extremely tough situation.

To the latter points, do not miss his recent remarks on public charter schools which you can find here. A few highlights:

So why is it, that I —the public schools Chancellor— am an unalloyed supporter of charter schools? Frankly it’s simple: educators, families, and children want good schools. Charters are one way to create them. Charters bring in new blood. These are leaders and entrepreneurs who are not otherwise part of the system. They are people with ideas, with creativity, and who are willing to give their all for their students. On that central basis, when we have a city where there are thousands of kids not getting the education that they need and deserve, I don’t see why we would in any way shut down more options and new opportunities. In the end, I want to see every kid in New York City in a school that each and every one of you will be proud of. If those schools come from the traditional public sector or the charter sector, that’s fine with me.

I think we should support charters for another reason. Public education in large urban areas in the United States has failed. This is a somewhat heretical thing for a schools Chancellor to say. But if we are not going to be candid, I don’t think we can take the kind of steps we need to make the necessary changes. New York City is actually one of the best urban school systems in the United States, but by any measure, I guarantee you that at least half, probably more than half, of our students are not remotely getting the education they deserve…

…So why have we had so many decades of reform and so little change? I think it is because people continue to focus on program-based reform. They are unwilling to get their heads around the fact that in large urban areas the culture of public education is broken. If you don’t fix this culture, then you are not going to be able to make the kind of changes that are needed. Programmatic reform is important: curricula, class size, after-school programs, summer school—those things are very important. But unless we are prepared to deal with the culture in public education, I don’t think we can get the kinds of results that we need for our kids.

Read the whole thing…

Eduwonk Flashback! Even the UFT is thinking about opening a charter school in NYC…

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