QOD: What Education Reform Looks Like

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In “What Education Reform Looks Like,” Joel Klein salutes the out-going chancellor of the City University of New York, Matthew Goldstein. Goldstein oversaw major changes at CUNY, including instituting more stringent admissions requirements, recruiting highly effective professors, raising standards, and creating a culture of academic excellence.

Klein:

Public institutions too often default to short-term policy goals that give the appearance of success without its substance. CUNY’s open-admissions policy was a prime example—as are the years of dumbed-down academic standards Americans have seen in K-12 public education. We do children no favors by giving them degrees—whether in high school or college—that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.  

Equally important is an insistence on excellence. Far from undermining the university, as many of Mr. Goldstein’s critics insisted would happen, higher standards strengthened CUNY immeasurably. 

Mr. Goldstein didn’t need the headaches of having his residence picketed time and again and being accused of everything from elitism to racism. He was sitting pretty running a relatively quiet private university and could easily have stayed there. Perhaps remembering what a great City College had meant to him as a young man, he chose instead to fight a broken status quo and make a difference.

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