Thursday, November 13, 2008

Joel Klein for Secretary of Education !

I am not anti Joel Klein. I think he has tried to change a system that is certainly broken. I think in some ways he has focused on the correct thing. Good teachers make a good system. He has failed more than he has succeeded and this is his fault not Randy Weingarten's.

Joel comes from the law world. Big law firms manage large groups of creative people. They are not that different than education. Joel is trying to learn some of the lessons from this world. He supports performance bonuses. Of course performance bonuses in the law world can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, not ten thousand. If he thinks teachers are motivated by ten thousand dollars he is wrong.

In the law world if you really want an employee you wine and dine him/her until you convince him/her to work for you. In the ed. world you offer them a cellophane wrapped "danish" and a bad cup of coffee. You then have them sign a sheet of paper saying they were there so that you can get your money back for the snacks. Finally you tell the applicant you want to hire them but first there are a few hundred hoops they have to jump through. In the end you don't hire the black kid from Columbia University who grew up in a single parent household. Instead you hire the guy with the thick accent who hates American kids but has all the right credentials because he took the test so many times he had memorized all the questions.

Ultimately what hurt Joel Klein is that he became fixated on being able to develop a quantifiable way to measure teacher performance. Joel has spent millions of dollars creating computer systems to do this. I am not really against these types of systems. I think that they often give you a good view of what is happening in a big organization. But, when you use these types of systems as your main evaluation tool you just create a group of managers who are good at manipulating the system. You also become tempted to cheat the system yourself to show how wonderful you are doing.

The feds finally proposed a plan that says all states must determine graduation statistics based on how many kids enter 9th grade vs how many graduate 12th grade in 4 or 5 years. Isn't it amazing that this was not the way it was always done.

1 comment:

ILEAD India said...

This post is an appreciable criticism of the works done by Joel Klein as the secretary for Education. The suggestions that you have provided here are practical and feasible. However, I think money spent on including computers to the education system is money well-spent. however, one should not be a spendthrift.