Sunday, November 16, 2008

Klein’s Name Is Floated, and Bloggers Object by Elissa Gootman - City Room Blog -

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The blogosphere may have given Barack Obama’s presidential campaign a lift, but it could have the opposite effect on the candidacy of a contender to be his education secretary: Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein.

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has been mentioned as a possible secretary of education. (Photo: Annie Tritt for The New York Times)

No sooner was Mr. Klein’s name floated as a candidate for the federal post than parents, educators and others who have criticized his handling of the city school system took to the Internet to try to scuttle the nomination.

On, the blogger HalWLanse wrote:

Chancellor Klein’s leadership is questionable, to say the least. I’ve never heard a teacher speak well of him. President-elect Obama won the election because he is an inspirational leader. Joel Klein has drawn the ire of teachers and parents alike. Choosing him as secretary of education would be a provocative move.

On SmallTalk, Michael Klonsky wrote, in a posting titled “Worst possible choice for Sec. of Ed.? Joel Klein,” that he had been “bombarded” with emails from educators and teacher groups in New York, “panic stricken over the possibility” that Mr. Klein could be appointed to the federal post.

On a blog attached to the Obama campaign’s official Web site, a poster with the handle Woodlass from New York, N.Y., pleaded with President-elect Obama to pass over Mr. Klein, writing:

He hasn’t made schools in this city any better than they had been, because it’s obvious students aren’t doing so well and neither are the teachers. He excluded parents and the rank-and-file from the decision-making process, poured millions into machines to crunch data for no practical purpose, and he neither respects or defends truth.

And since last week, Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, has urged parents to address their concerns about Mr. Klein to The Nation, which she said was planning to post the observations of parents and other stakeholders on its website.

“The Department of Education under Joel Klein has been run like a ruthless dictatorship,” Ms. Haimson wrote. “In short, he has been a disaster for our schools, and Barack Obama should be forewarned not to name him to any position of authority in his administration — as much as we would like to get rid of him!”

Asked about the criticisms, David Cantor, the chancellor’s press secretary, said in an e-mail message:

The chancellor has spent the last six years building a school system focused on the needs of kids. Along the way he’s angered adults with entrenched interests in policies that have never worked. That’s a trade he’ll make every time.