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Joel Klein on Teachers Unions and Ground Wars at #EIE14

• ExcelinEd

In an informal discussion at the National Summit on Education Reform in Washington, D.C., former New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein laid out two paths teachers unions can take.

“They can double down on an anti-choice, anti-accountability model,’’ he said.

But if they do, he said, it is “a ground war’’ they will lose.

One indicator of that was the Vergara v. California ruling, in which a Los Angeles Superior Court judge threw out the state’s tenure laws because of the impact ineffective teachers were having on disadvantaged students.

“The judge said it shocked his conscience,’’ Klein said.

The preferable path, he said, would be for the union to shed its “assembly-line model’’ and embrace a professional model in which there are rigorous admission requirements and performance standards for teachers.

Klein said one of his regrets in New York was that the disconnect he had with teachers in communicating that.

Klein also argued for more school choice.

Citing his experience in New York, he said, “What we did was create options for kids stuck in one-and-done schools.’’Joel Klein

He touted the results produced at the network of Success Academy charter schools in New York, where low-income and minority kids are producing test scores comparable to the most elite schools in the state. Klein said that every year there are 80,000 applications for between 15,000 and 20,000 seats in charter schools.

But creating more options for poor families can be an uphill fight because of opposition from school bureaucracies and unions.

“Monopolies like to maintain their market share,’’ he said. “It is a sector motivated by political concerns not performance concerns.’’

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