Joel Klein, CC'67, the former assistant attorney general who led the Department of Justice's anti-trust case against Microsoft, has been named New York City Schools Chancellor by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Klein is currently chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann, Inc.
Klein, a recipient of Columbia College's John Jay Award in 2002, described his education at Columbia as a "re-birth" during his acceptance speech of the award on March 6.
"Columbia instilled in me an array of values that I consider to be my core, and for that I am grateful beyond measure," he added.
Klein also said that Columbia professors instilled in him the belief that "there is no higher calling than public service and I am so fortunate to have had that opportunity. In this great nation, for all its flaws, a person's opportunities are truly limitless and the obligation to give back is absolutely critical."
Bloomberg offered praise for Klein, highlighting his management experience and leadership abilities.
"Joel Klein embodies the exact qualities we need in a Schools Chancellor: integrity, dynamism, the ability to bring diverse constituencies together and an unwavering commitment to results," Bloomberg said. "Running one of the Justice Department's most successful divisions as well as a major media company has given him the extensive and wide-ranging management experience necessary to turn our schools around. He knows how to run a large organization, from picking the best people, to balancing large budgets, and making sure everyone is accountable."
"Today, as I accept this appointment with enormous gratitude to Mayor Bloomberg, I acknowledge that debt and pledge to do all that I can to give each child in New York City a first-rate education and the keys to unlock what this remarkable world has to offer," Klein said on July 29, when the appointment was announced.
Klein attended New York City public schools and graduated from William Cullen Bryant High School.
"As a product of New York City's public schools, I owe my teachers and this city's schools more than I can ever repay," Klein said after the appointment was announced.
Klein graduated magna cum laude/Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia College and received his law degree from Harvard, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1971.
In addition, during a leave of absence from law school in 1969, Klein studied at New York University's School of Education and then taught math to sixth-graders at a public school in Queens until he was called upon by the U.S. Army Reserves for basic training.
While in the nation's capital, Klein served as a member of Mayor Anthony Williams' "Kitchen Cabinet," where they discussed improving the district's schools through the mayor's plan to take over the school board.
Klein will become the first Schools Chancellor appointed under the new school governance legislation, which gives the Mayor control of New York City's 1.1 million-student public school system. Like the Police and Fire Commissioners, Klein will report directly to the Mayor. On August 1, Klein received a waiver from State Education Commissioner Richard Mills to take the post.
New York State requires school superintendents to have at least three years of teaching experience and graduate work in school administration, including an internship or similar experience. However, since 1970, the state's education commissioner has been allowed to waive these requirements for "exceptionally qualified persons" who have "training and experience" that are the "substantial equivalent" of the formal requirements. Mills' decision was backed by an 8-3 vote of an advisory panel approving the waiver.