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Children First Not a Winner

NYC public schools did not win the coveted Broad Prize for urban schools improvement. Klein was at the ceremony, with a “large delegation of New York educators,” and announced that he was “thrilled” to be a runner-up. Sure he’s thrilled. Maybe even the conservatives at Broad started to see what we see–the record on Children First is thin. The fact that test scores in one grade went up 10 points, when that occurred all over the state, is not exactly the stuff of championship.

This spot of tarnish on the glitter follows a tepid reception from the NY Times for the New York City Partnership’s “Progress Report on New York City School Reform,” Kathryn Wylde’s commissioned promo for Children First and Kleinberg’s education agenda, written by NYU researchers. The Times noted that this supposedly independent evaluation used all DOE data and and no independent research.

NYU provided the scholarly cover, but two NYU profs I spoke with said they were a bit embarrassed by the report and believed that the university’s education school should not have let itself be used in this way.

Klein spoke at an upper east side event the evening of the report’s release, with copies of the report prominently displayed. My first (admittedly immature) thought walking in was, “who knew there were so many blondes in New York City?” Klein was up on a stage with Chris Whittle, the head of the money-losing and often failing Edison Schools project. The two of them sat there basking in praise, congratulated as “original thinkers,” mold-breakers, “the good guys in education,” while the blondes nodded and clapped approvingly. Klein seemed to be twirling in the stratosphere, talking about Danish models of vocational education and taking credit for the NYC autonomy zone, which was created ages ago by Rudy Crew and Deborah Meier and dozens of the city’s real education pioneers, many of whom quit the moment they heard the outlines of the Children First agenda.

A colleague attended last night’s upper east side event with Klein, in which the Chancellor told George Stephenopoulos that NYC is 75% along in closing the digital divide. My colleague said that audience actually groaned, because they evidently know at least a little more than he does about rich and poor in New York City. 75% of NYC public school kids have high-speed Internet access at home? Yeah.

Klein just seems to misread situations. How else to explain his statement yesterday that he was working on teacher merit pay as part of his and the Mayor’s second-term agenda. Teachers are on the verge of open rebellion. They despise the givebacks proposed in the fact-finders’ report, and from the sounds of the 144-and-counting comments in response to this blog’s earlier post, they are absolutely fed up with being infantilized and terrorized in their schools and classrooms.

Maybe Bloomberg gets reelected. Maybe he doesn’t. But it’s starting to look like Children First is a model of school reform for a very limited number of people, and few of them public school educators.



  • 1 institutional memory
    · Sep 21, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    Maybe it should be called, “Ego First.”

  • 2 NYC Educator
    · Sep 22, 2005 at 6:22 pm

    Maybe it should be called “Sprts Stadiums for Billionaires First”

  • 3 firebrand
    · Sep 22, 2005 at 6:36 pm

    I call it “No School Left Standing” I think that it’s a plot. I think that the powers that be want all NYC schools taken over by the state.

    Mark my words this micro managing horse puckey is only the first tiny micro step in The Big Bad Plan…whatever that is…It can’t be good.

  • 4 Edwize » Whittling away at public education
    · Dec 16, 2005 at 11:57 am

    […] Whittle has continued to sell his Edison private-management company to large public school systems that should know better, including Philadelphia and Baltimore. He was soundly defeated by parents and teachers in NYC’s District 5 a few years back when he offered to manage schools in Harlem, but now Chancellor Klein appears enamoured of him. […]