The state of Florida this week is getting a taste of New York City's efforts to improve public schools — including some new ideas Chancellor Joel Klein is mulling, such as a plan that for the first time would grant the Department of Education authority to certify teachers and principals.
Certification is now done by universities, which act as partners even when it comes to alternative ways to enter the profession, such as Teach For America and the city's Teaching Fellows program.
Mr. Klein spoke about the idea yesterday at a summit organized by a former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, according to his prepared PowerPoint presentation.
Mayor Bloomberg is scheduled to speak at the summit today.
The certification idea was one of six items on a "wish list" Mr. Klein presented, according to his PowerPoint plan. It was listed as a possible pilot project.
The wish list also included an item regarding the schools of education that now determine certification. It said Mr. Klein wants: "Accountability for education schools in raising student achievement."
The list also included items Mr. Klein has long lobbied for, though unsuccessfully, such as the ability to dismiss poorly performing teachers more easily, and the ability to use test score data when evaluating teachers.
The teachers union recently blocked Mr. Klein's ability to use test score data in making tenure decisions, supporting an effort in Albany to ban such practices via state law.
A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg would not disclose what he plans to say today.
In his flirtation with the national limelight — and a possible presidential run — Mr. Bloomberg has often made education a main subject. In a speech at the Urban League last summer, he excoriated American leaders for "pandering to special interests" rather than fighting for change through programs such as merit-based pay for teachers.
President Bush's education secretary, Margaret Spellings, also spoke yesterday. Her remarks praised a group of people she described as "education reform warriors," including the group Mr. Klein recently launched with Reverend Al Sharpton, the Education Equality Project.
Ms. Spellings also singled out Mr. Klein for individual praise. She used an anecdote of his to argue that education technology needs to be improved.
"Joel Klein told me that every Friday night, his wife, who works for Sony, gets an e-mail telling her which movies led box office sales that week," Ms. Spellings said, according to her prepared remarks.
"Technology exists that provides data in real time. Why are we not using it to personalize instruction for students in the classroom?"