Last updated on: 6/6/2012 | Author:

Joel Klein, JD Biography

Former New York City Schools Chancellor
Pro to the question "Do Standardized Tests Improve Education in America?"

“[I]f you don’t test whether people are getting it, then you can live under the illusion that they got it without the proof that they’re getting it. And so to me the challenge is to make sure the tests are rigorous, that they test the full range of things, but don’t walk away from assessment.

When I went to public school, every Friday we got tested on vocabulary. And you know what? It was a way to make sure you know what assiduous meant, and that’s very important. And we got tested on math and if I got things wrong, then I went back to try to learn them and my teacher went back to try to help me understand them.

Now if all you do at the end of a block is move onto the next block, what happens is what happens in many public schools, people move through the system without acquiring the knowledge and the skills they need. And when they get to the end, they drop out or fail out or don’t succeed, and so assessment is an absolutely essential—it’s not the only part—but it’s an absolutely essential part of the educational equation.”

“What Is the Proper Role of State Student Assessment?,”, May 28, 2008

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Executive Vice President, Board Member, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Education Division, News Corporation, Jan. 3, 2011-present
  • Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on US Education Reform and National Security, Apr. 2011-Mar. 2012
  • New York City Schools Chancellor, Aug. 19, 2002-Jan. 1, 2011
  • Co-Founder and former Co-Chair, Education Equality Project
  • Chairman and CEO, Bertelsmann, Inc., Jan. 2001-July 2002
  • Chief US Liaison Officer to Bertelsmann AG, Jan. 2001-July 2002
  • Former United States Assistant Attorney General, July 17, 1997-2001
  • Acting Assistant Attorney General, Oct. 18, 1996-July 17, 1997
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, 1995-1996
  • Deputy White House Counsel under President Bill Clinton, 1993-1995
  • Member of legal team, Mental Health Law Project, 1975
  • Clerk, US Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, 1974-1975
  • Clerk, Chief Judge David Bazelon, United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, 1973-1974
  • JD, magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1971
  • Attended New York University’s School of Education, 1969
  • BA, magna cum laude, Columbia University, 1967
  • Attended William Cullen Bryant High School, Queens, NY
  • Former Partner, Onek, Klein & Farr
  • Former Partner and Associate, Rogovin, Stern & Huge
  • Former partner, Klein, Farr, Smith & Taranto
  • Former Chairman, Green Door (Washington, DC-based mental health program)
  • Former treasurer, World Federation for Mental Health
  • Winner, volunteer recognition award, National Association of
    Attorneys General

  • Has argued 11 cases before the US Supreme Court
  • Has a daughter, Julia, and stepdaughter, Harriet
  • Married to Nicole Seligman (second marriage)
  • Legal name is Joel Irwin Klein
  • Born in New York, NY on Oct. 25, 1946