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Joel Klein leaves behind legacy after 8 years as chancellor

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klein Photo Credit: Getty Images

Schools chancellor Joel Klein, 64, stepped down from his post yesterday to take a job as an executive vice president at News Corp., the Rupert Murdoch-owned media empire.

This marks Klein’s return to the media industry after eight years in public education and about 30 years in law. Before Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed him to chancellor in 2002, Klein served as CEO of media company Bertelsmann Inc.

In announcing his departure, the Queens-reared Klein who attended public school as a child, called being chancellor “the best job of my life.”

Having held the post longer than anyone before him, Klein’s tenure was punctuated by key reforms and controversies, including:

— Ending the “rubber rooms,” or reassignment centers that school teachers were put in when they were accused of wrongdoing. The teachers were given full salaries, while doing no actual teaching, a source of embarrassment to both the city and teachers’ union.

— Implementing a grading system for schools using an A through F system.

— Increasing rates in high school graduation rates and college enrollment.

— Criticism of him and Bloomberg for falling test scores and failing to close the achievement gap for black and Hispanic students.

— Helping New York state to become one of only 10 states this year to receive federal “Race to the Top” funding to improve education.

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