2010-12-03 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Klein Was A Failure, Why Not Try Again?
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Joel Klein, an attorney and businessman, with little experience on the education front, was a complete failure as a school chancellor.

His greatest “success” was a massive increase in student’s language arts and mathematics scores.

Every year, the scores went up and every year, Klein and his boss, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, crowed and pointed to the jump in scores as their crowning glory – proof that they were on the right track and that the venal UFT was trying to derail his efforts out of greed and pride.

Remember the year that nearly every school in the city got either an A or B on its report card? That was the beginning of the end of belief. Even the mayor’s supporters knew that stretched credulity.

Several universities began to look at the scores and found that the cut scores – the cutoff point for reaching level 3 (a passing grade) had been lowered each year, allowing more kids to succeed and allowing the mayor and Klein to look good.

Where once it took 50 right answers to get to level 3, for example, it now took only 27. What a scam

The state, embarrassed by being caught with its hand in the cookie jar, set the cut score back where it was when Bloomberg and Klein took over and, surprise of surprises, the scores fell back to where they once were. There were no gains. Bloomberg and Klein were frauds, and everybody now knew it.

Klein promptly quit.

He is going to work for Rupert Murdoch, another millionaire fraud. He will lobby the system he once headed on behalf of News Corp’s computer program for tracking student progress.

Murdoch has long said that he wanted to get into the “education business,” and now he can jump in with both feet.

He has both the chancellor and a top lobbyist on his side. What more can he need? Will Black refuse Klein’s telephone calls? What a laugh, but it gets worse.

The mayor, with input only from a small group of other millionaires, picked News Corp executive Cathie Black to replace Klein.

Another business person with no education background. In fact, while Klein attended city schools, there is no evidence that either Black or her kids ever went anywhere near a public school.

Black is a manager who, like the mayor, sees kids and parents as “customers” of the business. She is an outspoken champion of charter schools, and an outspoken opponent of the UFT.

In fact, she will gladly continue the Bloomberg-Klein plan for the school system, creating more and more charter schools while demonizing the UFT continually, using Bloomberg’s billions to sell the false idea that the UFT is the purveyor of evil, a group that works only to maintain jobs on the backs of the city school students. The truth, however, is that Bloomberg’s plan to destroy the UFT has worked only because the union does care for kids and has failed to respond to Bloomberg’s attack.

For once, however, the state had a partial backbone and refused to grant Black a waiver. The compromise was that Black could be appointed chancellor if Bloomberg picked a person with the proper educational license and experience as Deputy Chancellor for Instruction.

So, who did Bloomberg designate?

Shael Polakow- Suransky, the present Deputy Chancellor for Performance and Accountability, the very person who certified and glorified the bogus test scores that the state turned out each year.

The very person who is responsible for the computer programs that Joel Klein will now sell to the DOE at the behest of his boss, Rupert Murdoch, the purveyor of the New York Post and nearly every other junk tabloid in the world.

He has the educational credits that the mayor needs to give Black the top job.

He taught at both the Crossroads Middle School and the Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School.

He was the DOE’s Deputy Chancellor for new and empowerment schools.

Now, he will be the Chancellor for Instruction, or some such bogus title, because we all know that he is simply a shill for Black and the mayor.

He is the beard that takes a girl out so that she can actually meet up with another boy the girl’s parent hates. He is the cardboard cutout that is pushed into the spotlight, while the real work is being done in secret in another room.

Just what we need for our kids.

The Black team will continue all of Klein’s programs, because they come from Bloomberg, and he is still in place.

Klein will move on to News Corp and make millions selling programs that do not address classroom problems, but will be used only for tracking progress.

At a time when teachers and other classroom positions are being cut, when class sizes are rising and special education programs are being cut, Black will pay News Corp millions, perhaps billions over time to track progress, and Klein will get a large chunk of that money as the company’s lobbyist.

If you doubt the veracity of what I say, just wait for it.

For years, I wrote that the test scores and report cards were bogus – smoke and mirrors. Last year, the state proved that true.

It’s all about business and a mayor that wants to destroy the union.

It’s all one business-related scam, like derivatives, but worse, because they impact not our banks, but our kids.

I keep thinking of a line from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax.”

“Business is business and business must grow, regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.”

Business is growing in a place where business should never grow – our schools.

After all, the Post, a paper that would not think of hiring a nonjournalist as its executive editor, loves having a “pure manager” heading the school system.

Bloomberg would not think of hiring a police commissioner who was not a cop, nor a fire commissioner who was not a firefighter.

Why an educational leader with no educational background.

It’s the money, honey.

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