Models of School Reform


In WSJ’s Report over the weekend, Maria Bartiromo interviewed New York City Chancellor, Joel Klein, head of the largest public school system in the United States, to hear his ideas for school reform. Mr. Klein’s comprehensive education reform program, Children First, is transforming the nation’s largest public school system into a system of high-achieving schools. The first steps of the reform effort included ending social promotion in third, fifth, seventh, and eighth grades; creating a wide array of academic supports for struggling students; establishing new supports for parents by assigning a parent coordinator in nearly every school; and expanding small schools and charter schools to provide more high-quality educational options for students. The second phase of Children First involved restructuring the system, changing how schools are operated and supported, and giving principals greater control over how they run their schools while holding them accountable for results. Here are other specific ideas that Klein stated in his interview:

- Elevate the teaching role to a full-professional standing starting in higher education by recruiting the top quarter of college students to become teachers

- Promote accountability and reward success among school administrators and staff

- Learn from successes overseas; students need more time in school and the U.S. needs to establish high expectations of students while giving them the tools they need to succeed

*-Follow the data and implement programs that work.

Klein’s model hearkens to Mastery Charter Schools, a company with four schools in Philadelphia, that Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other education leaders, have called a potential “national model” for school reform (see web link to full article below). The Mastery approach aims to prepare students for college with a strong behavior code, rigorous curriculum with personal responsibility and emotional/social skills. The model includes a longer school day (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and a longer school year. Tutoring is mandatory for struggling students, and all students must show “mastery” by earning a grade of at least 76 percent before advancing.

How can we begin to implement these models of success into other school districts while honoring each school’s distinct population?

What role should local governments play to give principals more autonomy in running their schools?

What can colleges and universities do to help recruit its top students to K-12 teaching as a profession of choice.

*Note: LifeBound offers data assessments for every one of its programs, and we have a strong track record of results. If you would like to see a sample of our data, call us toll free at 1.877.737.8510 or email at

Wall Street Journal Report
October 4, 2009

Fixing America’s Schools: Back to school and back to business with Joel Klein, head of the largest public school system in the United States.
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