...at Princeton University, “Education as the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time.” Full crowd to hear Joel Klein, Chancellor of NYC Schools; Shavar Jeffries, President of Newark Public School Advisory Board; and Leslie-Bernard Joseph, Teach for America alum and Dean of Students at Coney Island Prep, a charter in Brooklyn. The moderator was Shirley Tilghman, President of Princeton.
Tilghman: The U.S. K-12 public education system is the “least effective and most expensive in the world.”
Klein: People like to say we won’t fix education until we fix poverty. “But it’s the other way around. We’ll never fix poverty until we fix education.”
“From 1983 til 2010 we’ve doubled the amount in real dollars that we spend on education.”
There are three “core transformations” that must occur:
1) We must move “teaching from a trade union to a profession” with “real accountability.”
2) K-12 shouldn’t be a “monopoly provider.” Only people who live in high-poverty areas get no choice.
3) We must “bring schools into the 21st century,” i.e., tech and distance learning. We must move away from “the model of one teacher to 25 kids.”
Example: Coney Island Prep (Mr. Joseph’s school) where the school day goes from 7:30-5:00. The students at this charter school include the highest percentage of special needs kids in NYC, except for schools designed exclusively for special needs. Yet it wins awards for achievement.
Tilghman: “How will we get to a professional teaching corps?”
Klein: “We work 180 days a year and go home at 3:00.” That has to change. “We must build constituencies, because that’s what changes political systems.”
Klein’s lightbulb joke: “How many unions does it take to change a lightbulb?” “Only one, but the union has to want to change.”