Joel Klein, the former chancellor of New York City schools, is one of the national leaders of the controversial education reform movement. He’s written a new book about “how to fix our schools,” an excerpt of which is running on the Atlantic’s site today. The piece is about union rules governing communication between administrators and teachers, but more importantly, it involves one of the most preposterously grandiose examples of self-flattery to ever appear in print. To argue the point that he should’ve been allowed to interact more with teachers, Klein cites an email he received from a phys ed teacher when he (Klein) announced he was resigning:
Sadness doesn’t really express how I feel about your decision to leave the DOE. Though many of my colleagues shouted for joy when they heard the news, I for one shed a tear for a man who really cared about children and emphasized quality education. Though all your hard work and perseverance didn’t always work out the way you had hoped, you were the maverick who led in a passionate way to change the status quo and give the DOE a direction that only a creative mind like yours could have instituted. I salute you.
“Passionate, creative maverick Joel Klein’s resignation literally made a man cry,” Joel Klein reports. “The only downside of his tenure is that he was not permitted to inspire more lives with his godlike brilliance and charisma.”
Joel Klein’s current job, incidentally, is running a for-profit education concern marketed to school systems at News Corp., which means that what we’re dealing with here is a book about improving the public school system by someone whose livelihood is based on getting paid by public school systems at a company whose most prominent employees are famous for criticizing public services as the domain of moochers who want to get free stuff for free without working for it. We live in strange times.