Oppose the appointment of Joel Klein as Secretary of Education
President elect Barack Obama
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We, the undersigned, devoted thousands of hours of volunteer time to the election of Barack Obama as President. As Professional educators we were encouraged by the promise to have an open and respectful dialogue within the educational community about NCLB, its limits, and its failures.
Now, a trial balloon has been advanced in the media for Joel Klein, Chancellor of NYC schools to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education in an Obama Administration. ( It is quite possible that Klein himself promoted the trial balloon.) Trial balloons are trials. They are floated to see how people will react.
This petition is a reaction.
The administration of Joel Klein as Chancellor of New York City Schools is representative of a particular rigid approach to school change promoted by NCLB which we oppose. Rather than take the advice of educators, Chancellor Klein repeatedly championed and implemented policies that support corporate interests as opposed to children. The NY City Department of Education under Joel Klein has been run like a ruthless dictatorship with no input from parents or educators. Teachers have not been respected, consulted, nor listened to. And little thought has been devoted to how the policies he has imposed on our schools have been destructive to the children and their futures.
To lay at the door of schools the many problems the of societyand particularly those that afflict people of color and low incomeas does Joel Klein, is a transparent media manipulation of complex issues. While focusing on test scores, he has consistently ignored the crisis of overcrowding in New York schools. Thousands of children are being given special services in hallways or in closets.
Rather than face the complex nature of student achievement and to work for substantive school improvement, Chancellor Joel Klein has joined with others to blame teachers unions and to bash teachers.
He has, at the same time, refused to reduce class size, despite repeated audits and reports from the New York State Comptrollers office and the State Education Department .
Joel Klein has repeatedly demonstrated that his primary goal is improving test scores even when these policies produce cheating and a focus on test preparation. The rise in state test scores that has resulted is not matched by improvements in the more reliable national assessments called the NAEPs. In fact, NYC was 11th out of 12 urban school districts in New York in terms of its gains in the NAEPs over the course of his administration, and there has been no closing of the achievement gap in any subject tested. The available data New York City does not support the claims of improved school achievement under this administration. This singular focus on test scores contradicts the educational platform of the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign.
We were encouraged by the Obama campaigns call to reform NCLB and for adequate school funding rather than to continue with the narrow blame-the teacher focus of the Bush administration and candidate McCain. The Joel Klein administration in NYC has modeled school change efforts of the mode of the Bush/McCain efforts and in stark opposition to the promises of the Obama campaign.
For these reasons, and after noting the cries of opposition from parents groups, we the undersigned oppose the nomination of Joel Klein and we call upon the Obama Administration to seek broad public input into important decisions.