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Australian TV profiles Klein, challenging some of his boasts

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View the TV program ##

A new television look at Joel Klein’s reforms airing in Australia paints a mixed picture of the results for schools. While one Bronx high school explains how it has flourished under Klein’s leadership, the sociology graduate student Jennifer Jennings, who blogged under the alias Eduwonkette, urges Aussies to consider that school an exception, not the rule, in New York City.

The Australian education minister, Julia Gillard, has been eying Klein’s reforms as a model for her work down under.

The new TV story, airing on Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service network, on a program called “Dateline,” focuses on Bronx Lab School, a small high school in the Evander Childs building the program calls the “poster child” for Klein’s reforms. Principal Marc Sternberg explains that the city’s move to give principals more freedom allowed his school to flourish.

“It is because the chancellor communicated very clearly to us what we had to accomplish, and then left the rest up to us,” Sternberg says. “If a school a decade ago was creative in some of the ways that we have been creative, they would have been breaking all the rules.”

But the documentary piece also visits Jennings, who argues that small schools like Evander Childs got advantages over other public schools in the kinds of students they admit. “I think that if you were under the impression that there was going to be a miraculous rebirth of your schools as a function of looking at a lot of the PR in new york city, you’d end up with quite a disappointed education minister,” she says.

Watch the full program here.

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