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Joel Klein heading to Jerusalem to tout school reforms

If the past is any guide, Israel could be the next foreign country to import New York City-style school reforms.

Chancellor Joel Klein is leaving Saturday night for a two-day trip to Israel, during which he will argue that education reform is both possible and necessary at a day-long education conference hosted by Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat.

The last country Klein visited in his capacity as chancellor, Australia in 2008, adopted a New York City-style school grading system shortly afterward. Klein also visited the United Kingdom shortly before its education minister announced plans to adopt a similar school grading system, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Ann Forte.

Klein’s reforms already have some fans in Israel. During his keynote speech Sunday night, titled “It Must Be Done,” Klein will appear alongside Shay Piron, a rabbi who heads an advocacy group that is promoting major changes to Israel’s schools. Among Hakol Chinuch’s goals are closing achievement gaps among different groups of students, linking schools’ funding to their students’ socioeconomic status, and empowering principals.

Klein’s trip, which New York City is not paying for, begins tomorrow night and will end early Tuesday morning, Forte said.

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