Are there any foreign models of school reform the U.S. should look to?
Joel I. Klein became New York City schools chancellor in July 2002 after serving in the highest levels of government and business. As Chancellor, he oversees more than 1,500 schools with 1.1 million students, 136,000 employees, and a $21-billion operating budget.
Mr. Klein’s comprehensive education reform program, Children First, is transforming the nation's largest public school system into a system of great schools.
Before Mr. Klein became Chancellor, he was chairman and chief executive officer of Bertelsmann, Inc., and chief U.S. liaison officer to Bertelsmann AG from January 2001 to July 2002. Bertelsmann, one of the world’s largest media companies, has annual revenues exceeding $20 billion and employs more than 76,000 people in 54 countries.
From 1997 to 2001, Mr. Klein was assistant attorney general in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division. Serving one of the longest tenures ever as head of the 700-lawyer division, Klein led landmark cases against Microsoft, WorldCom/Sprint, Visa/Mastercard, and General Electric, prevailing in a large majority of cases. Mr. Klein was widely credited with transforming the antitrust division into one of the Clinton Administration’s greatest successes. He also served as Acting Assistant Attorney General and as the antitrust division’s principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General. His appointment to the U.S. Justice Department came after Klein served two years (1993-95) as deputy counsel to President William J. Clinton.
Question: Are there any foreign models of school reform the U.S. should look to?
Joel Klein: Well there are people who face different challenges and have different things going for them certainly. And I’ve looked at work. Right now we’re doing some work on meaningful careers and technical education as a part of the kind of analysis that I think we need to do, so that not everybody is on a four year academic college track. Some people want a career in technical.
And so if you look in Northern Europe, in the Scandinavian countries, Denmark in particular has done some work on that. If you look at Korea, Finland, those are countries that are doing quite well on global tests, among other reasons, is because they attract very high quality teachers, as the research says.
Michael Barber who I mentioned is doing this work for Tony Blair, who’s now at McKinsey [& Company] has just come out with his book, and also a global analysis of the four or five things that really matter throughout the globe.
And looking for commonalities, it’s the same process of knowledge management that you talked about at the school system that we’re not trying to talk about nationally. But you can also do it globally. And we’ll create platforms where we learn from each other in that respect.
Recorded on: March 30, 2008
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