EDUCATION
11/09/2010 08:14 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

What Is Joel Klein's Legacy?

After serving eight years as New York City schools chancellor, Joel Klein announced his resignation from the post Tuesday.

According to a statement made by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Klein was waiting for a replacement to be selected before stepping down. He has accepted a job as a top executive at News Corp.

As Klein departs, education voices mull over the legacy he leaves behind. Like former Washington DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, Klein's education policies often ignited controversy.

Klein approached the job eager to make sweeping reforms -- such as closing low-performing schools and opening up more charter schools. He typically butted heads with the teachers union over his reform tactics.

The Hechinger Report summarizes,

Klein's most significant moves include reshaping the school's central bureaucracy (twice), giving more responsibility and authority to principals in exchange for more accountability, opening more charter schools, giving large raises to teachers, and reformulating how funding is allocated to schools (by attaching money to students based on attributes like their low-income or special education status).

His most lauded accomplishment is increasing the high school graduation rate to 63 percent.

Bloomberg announced publishing executive Cathie Black will takeover Klein's position. Black's resumé includes serving as Hearst Magazines chairwoman and USA Today president.

The appointment falls in line with Bloomberg's belief that business executives are best suited to turn things around in government. Black appears to be on a trajectory to follow in Klein's footsteps in terms of reform.

Critics of Bloomberg's appointment argue that Black's business background isn't enough to prepare her to serve as schools chancellor.

According to the Associated Press:

Black, who has been on Fortune magazine's "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" list, comes to the job without experience as an educator, which was among the chief complaints of Klein's critics.

New York Magazine's Daily Intel reports that Black's arrival falls in line with Bloomberg's mission to shake things up in his last term. The mayor hopes to be remembered for education reform.

Daily Intel writes:

Black arrives just as the city is due to receive millions in "Race to the Top" federal money, and Bloomberg wants much of it spent on charter schools, whose growth has been a point of raw contention with the teachers union, at the same time the union and the city are negotiating a new contract.

New York residents and education leaders across the nation will be eager to see how Black chooses to lead when she takes the helm of the city's schools.