When British Education Secretary Michael Gove invited Joel Klein to speak at a conference on the decline of the public school system he gave Klein an opportunity to offer some candid insights into the sad state of public education in America. Mr. Klein stepped down as Chancellor in November and has been beating the drum for reform ever since. The New York Post reports that during an interview on Saturday, Klein pulled no punches about the number of incompetent teachers and their union defenders.
“Five to 10 percent are not remotely capable,” Klein said about educators in a sit-down with the Sunday Times of London. “It’s easier to prosecute a capitol punishment case in the U.S. than terminate an incompetent teacher.”
During his eight years at the helm on the NYC public school system, Klein said he had helped to simplify the legal process and remove barriers to fire bad teachers and end “dance of the lemons,” the practice of shifting incompetent teachers from one school to another. Still due to the powerful influence of the United Federation of Teachers, the system is clogged with failing teachers. Klein said “The union is going to protect incompetent workers-that is their job.”
Klein remarked that unions are unhappy with the growth of high-performing charter schools because it threatens their “guaranteed client base.”
The United Federation of Teachers did not respond to a request for comment.
The problem with our system of public education cannot be addressed until the politically powerful teacher’s unions can be held accountable for their actions. Given the vast amounts of capital the unions funnel into the Democrat Party, the reform of public education will only begin in earnest when the electorate gets schooled on their candidates.
January 30, 2010