An ebullient Chancellor Klein quoted ol' Blue Eyes this morning -- "it was a very good year"-- and lauded the praises of students at Bronx Lab High School (whose graduates he addressed) as well as the city's teachers. Celebrating "the boldest changes yet" in terms of school reform, he cautioned nay-sayers, "Don't call it experimentation. You never want to stop innovation -- it's what drives success."
What Klein sees as success, though, can appear otherwise to other eyes. For example, he said "g+t program [admissions] ran much more smoothly than ever before"-- an assertion with which we'd bet plenty of parents would differ. For middle school admissions, he prescribed a "do it earlier" timeframe and stronger communications, advice that would've been useful when so many parents seeking answers weren't able to reach DOE and OSEPO officials.
The Chancellor celebrated gains by ELL students, as well as test-score gains overall. The 43% grade 8 ELA proficiency, while "not a great number," still represents a gain over the 30% proficiency when Klein took charge of the city schools. Middle school "is our greatest challenge," he said, and suggested that the DOE might consider breaking large middle schools into smaller ones, similar to ongoing high-school reforms.
Lower numbers of Level 4 scores, especially in middle school, are a concern, says Klein, who faults NCLB guidelines for not rewarding (and thus motivating) progress beyond proficiency. Recognition aside, he didn't offer specific ideas on how to address or even understand lower achievement by high-performing students.
Asked about the 50- to 60-hour week many teachers invest in their jobs, Klein dismissed concerns about sustainability. "When people are part of the world of changing things for children, they don't view it as work." This may come as news to teachers, who work hard to meet and sometime surpass the expectations of their jobs. Surely, even the most idealistic deserve not to work steady 12- or 14-hour days.