The New York City schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, is once again rethinking the nation’s largest school system.
He has hired Chris Cerf, former president of Edison Schools, the commercial manager of public schools in 25 states. He has retained Alvarez & Marsal, a consulting firm that revamped the school system in St. Louis and is rebuilding the system in New Orleans. And he has enlisted Sir Michael Barber, a former adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair of England who is now at McKinsey & Company in London.
They are evaluating everything from how textbooks and paper are bought, to how teacher training programs are chosen, to how students, teachers, principals and schools are judged. They are running focus groups of dozens of principals, and they are studying districts in England, Canada and California.
Their primary goal is to find ways to relax much of the very centralization put in place by the Bloomberg administration and give principals a far freer hand, provided the schools can meet goals for attendance, test scores, promotion rates and other criteria.