At The Education Barricades

Cathie Black Meets Tweed's Teaching and Learni...By Joel Klein
NYC Schools Chancellor and EEP co-chair Joel Klein writes in the Wall Street Journal this weekend on what he learned “at the education barricades” over eight years of service as the city’s chancellor.  With regard to teachers, Klein wrote: “We have to rid the system of this self-serving approach. We must stop protecting ineffective teachers and stop basing layoffs on a last-in/first-out rule. With federal stimulus dollars running out, budgets are only going to get tighter and layoffs will be necessary. When that happens, do we really want to lose the talented and energetic new teachers we have hired in the last few years?”

When Mayor Bloomberg and I started, there was zero accountability. Instead, bureaucrats, unions and politicians had their way, and they blamed poor results on students and their families. When we talked about managing the system with organizational practices that work in every other sector of our economy—like accountability, incentives and competition—we were told that education isn’t a business. Maybe so, but whether it’s health care, education or any other service, poorly-structured, nonaccountable delivery systems cost a fortune and don’t work.To counter the dysfunction, we turned the system upside down. We empowered principals, giving them new authority over budgets, hiring and other programs. In return, we held them accountable for student outcomes, rewarding them for success or removing them and closing their schools for poor performance. To attract and retain strong teachers, we raised salaries substantially and paid more to our best teachers who agreed to transfer to low-performing schools. We also increased choices for families by replacing almost 100 failing schools with about 500 new, small schools designed with community and charter management groups. Multiple studies showed that these new choices yielded significantly better results. Competition works.

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