Thursday, June 12, 2008

Klein, Sharpton Ally on Achievement Gap

More coverage, this time from the NY Sun:

Advocates yesterday said Rev. Sharpton's decision to partner with the chancellor was striking and could signal a break with the unions, which have long been seen as resistant to systemic change.

"It's not everyday that someone like Rev. Sharpton is willing to stand up and talk about the extent of the problem," the executive director of the New York-based Democrats for Education Reform, Joseph Williams, who also joined the new coalition yesterday, said. "Essentially he's saying there are no sacred cows."

Rev. Sharpton offered hints of a shift yesterday, although he did not directly criticize the unions.

"Our children are drowning in the waters of indifference and old coalitions that no longer work and no longer care," he said.

The coalition did not offer specific recommendations or a detailed policy agenda, but Mr. Klein said they would emphasize improving teacher quality, accountability, increased parental involvement, and making charter schools "viable" throughout the country. The group plans to hold forums at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer.

Mr. Klein and other coalition members signaled a willingness to confront entrenched policies like teacher tenure, even if it meant a conflict with unions. "We will take on laws, contracts, and other barriers to successfully educating our children," Mr. Klein said.

The chancellor of the Washington, D.C., school system, Michelle Rhee, was more blunt: "We are finally going to put aside the rights and privileges and priorities of adults" — and return the focus to children, she said.


Klein, Sharpton Ally on Achievement Gap

By RUSSELL BERMAN, Staff Reporter of the Sun
June 11, 2008

WASHINGTON — Anointing themselves the "odd couple," New York City's schools chancellor, Joel Klein, and the Reverend Al Sharpton are teaming up to confront what they call the nation's most urgent civil rights issue: the educational achievement gap between white and minority students.

The unlikely pairing of schools chief and activist appeared here yesterday with national education leaders to launch a coalition aimed at pressuring the presidential candidates to address racial disparities that persist in classrooms across the country.

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