Is the American K-12 school system in crisis? Yes, says this panel of educators, administrators, academics, business people, and politicians concerned about the matter. The experts talk about potential solutions, what’s working, and what isn’t. They also debate the merits of options like school choice, charter schools, and home schooling. The panel was part of the Global Education Conference, held in partnership with Goldman Sachs and the Stanford School of Education.
Adrian Fenty, former mayor, Washington, D.C., has become a leader of urban education reform after changing the District of Columbia’s public schools structure. His administration negotiated a ground-breaking collective bargaining agreement that allowed teachers to waive tenure in order to be rewarded for increasing student performance, and is also recognized for overhauling District agencies, ensuring more efficient service delivery throughout city government, and reducing the homicide rate. Fenty has served on the District Council and was elected to the Ward Four council seat in 2000. Prior to his election, he was the lead attorney and counsel for the DC Council Committee on Education Libraries and Recreation.
Joel Klein is CEO of Educational Division and executive vice president, Office of the Chairman at News Corp. Prior to that, he was chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. Klein is a former chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann, Inc., a media company, and served as assistant U.S. attorney general in charge of the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice until September 2000. From 1993-95, he was Deputy White House Counsel to President Clinton. Earlier, he did public and private legal work in Washington, D.C., for 20 years. Klein received his BA from Columbia University and his J.D. from Harvard Law.
Parag Pathak is the Economics Career Development Associate Professor of Economics in the economics departement at MIT and a visiting professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. He was educated at Harvard University, where he obtained his PhD in economics. He was previously a junior fellow in Harvard's Society of Fellows. Pathak is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and founding co-director of the working group on market design. His research has influenced design of student assignment systems in New York City and Boston.
Gary Smuts is superintendent of ABC Unified School District. He received his BA in history from California State University, Fullerton, his MA in history from Chapman University, and his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of LaVerne. In 2009, Smuts was selected as Association of California School Administrator’s Superintendent of the Year for California.
Carlos Watson, Jr., is managing director, media and for-profit education, investment banking with Goldman, Sachs & Co. Prior to joining the firm in 2010, he worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he advised a wide range of Fortune 500 companies. He also built and ran a successful venture-backed education company, Achieva College Prep Services, which he later sold to the Washington Post/Kaplan. In addition to his work in education, Watson has also had a distinguished media career, serving as an anchor and analyst for CNN and MSNBC. He won an Emmy Award in 2007 for his television interview specials. Carlos graduated, with honors, from both Harvard University and Stanford Law School.
Randi Weingarten has been president of American Federation of Teachers since 2008, following 11 years of service as an AFT vice president. She also served for 12 years as president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), AFT Local 2. For 10 years, she chaired New York City’s Municipal Labor Committee (MLC). From 1986 to 1998, Weingarten served as counsel to UFT President Sandra Feldman, and from 1991 to 1997, she was a teacher of history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights. She holds degrees from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Cardozo School of Law. She worked as a lawyer for the Wall Street firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan from 1983 to 1986.