Uncategorized

3rd July
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, July 3, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

The Fourth of July marks the anniversary of the independence of America, a time to reflect on the greatness of our nation and all sorts of high-minded civic concerns. For me, however, it’s an opportunity to reflect on another aspect of America’s greatness and ingenuity, the great jazz music pioneered by Louis Armstrong.

Armstrong’s birthday traditionally is celebrated on the Fourth of July. It is said that Satchmo thought that he was born on the Fourth of July of 1900. But research since he died has shown he actually was born on August 4, 1901.

(more…)

2nd January
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, January 2, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

NEW ORLEANS, December 27 - Visiting the crescent city for the first time since Hurricane Katrina hit has been an eye-opener. I am amazed that the candidates for president, all so eager to show how they alone embrace the concept of “change,” aren’t highlighting the failure of the public and private sectors to address the emergency.

The French Quarter and Garden Districts, so beloved by tourists, emerged largely intact, and the great restaurants are mostly reopened. Still, more than two years after the hurricane struck, huge areas of the city and surrounding areas are devastated. Tens of thousands are living in government issued trailers. Tens of thousands have left, many never to return.

(more…)

2nd March
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, March 2, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

When the history books are written, it will be noted that the beginning of the end of New York’s grand experiment with mayoral control of the schools came at 6:30 a.m. on January 29, 2007. It was then that the city’s school buses began to roll on new routes suggested by an extraordinarily expensive outside consultant, hand-picked without competitive bidding by the Department of Education.

In a certain sense it is a sad reflection of our times that the outrage over the direction of the schools came as a result of the peripheral issue of bus routes. That eighth-grade reading scores haven’t budged in eight years, a reflection of educational stagnation impacting tens of thousands of our students, doesn’t seem quite as compelling as one child waiting in the cold for a bus that never comes. (more…)

19th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 19, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

On Tuesday, voters throughout New York State went to the polls to approve — or reject — local school budgets and elect the school boards that submit these budgets.Only New York City and the city of Yonkers have been deemed by the legislature as unworthy of this privilege.

This kind of democracy involves all citizens in the discussion of education, whether they have children in the public schools or not. Parents obviously have a stake,as do those who may work in the system.The truth is that everyone has a stake in education. Voters must balance the impact on their wallets with the benefits the schools bring to their area. This can be the larger societal benefit of a well-educated population or the narrower benefit of rising property values. This year about 90% of the state’s school budgets were approved, an increase over recent years. (more…)

12th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 12, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Over the past few weeks I have learned a more about the city’s efforts to provide “equity” for academically advanced students. Failure to air this issue fully in recent years this has left many tens of thousands of our children shortchanged, most of them minority children. Rather than improve the situation, as Mayor Bloomberg promised in his re-election campaign, the cure has made matters worse.

This did not begin during this administration, although the promulgation of new rules to promote “equity” in admissions to programs for the academically advanced have already begun to have the opposite effect.Nowhere is this clearer than in Region One, which comprises most of the west Bronx. Of the 10 regions in the city, Region One has a special distinction. Despite being home to over 100,000 students, more than many big cities, it alone has not a single “self-contained” class in grades K-8 for gifted and talented students. (more…)

9th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 9, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

If you were to walk on the lush, treelined 18-acre campus of the Fieldston School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, you could imagine that you are on a campus of the Ivy League. The campus has a college feel, with a quad, archways, a well-stocked library, a theater, a dining hall, and athletic facilities to accommodate nearly any sport.

This ambiance is not lost on parents who aspire to see their children move on to actual Ivy League schools. None of Fieldston’s Manhattan competitors can physically match this mini-university atmosphere.To immerse their children in this collegiate environment, parents pay a college-like tuition of $28,545 a year. (more…)

5th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 5, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

The hysteria over the recently discovered “childhood obesity epidemic” has now reached fever pitch. Key players in America’s soft drink industry voluntarily agreed to remove their products that contain sugar from sale in schools. This agreement covers all schools, public, private, parochial, presumably even charters.

On the other hand, the folks who own those snack vans one finds parked outside of schools must really be whooping it up. Children will still drink Coke and Pepsi and Gatorade, but they will buy it from outside vendors.

This comes on the heels of Mayor Bloomberg’s decree banning whole milk from city schools, replacing it with the low-fat variety.The state of Connecticut has gone even further. Only skim milk may be served in Connecticut schools (more…)

4th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 4, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

E.D. Hirsch, the scholar who has become a leading critic of the state of American education, will speak today at a luncheon at the Princeton Club sponsored by the Manhattan Institute.

It is not surprising to find Mr. Hirsch among the scholars at the Manhattan Institute, where his message of high academic standards has long resonated. Nor is it surprising that Mr. Hirsch, who is in town to promote his much-anticipated new book, “The Knowledge Deficit” (Houghton Mifflin, $22), has similar support among members of a group not often held in high regard at the Manhattan Institute — the teachers unions.

It is not that the end days are approaching and the lion has lain down with the lamb. Mr. Hirsch’s unique contribution to the American educational scene transcends ideology. (more…)

28th April
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, April 28, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

In a county with of one of the nation’s sickest economies, the Bronx president, Adolfo Carrion, Jr., has come up with a plan to jump start one local industry segment, the borough’s restaurants. Mr. Carrion is utilizing a tactic that is not unfamiliar to the Bronx Democratic Party machine: he is trying to “fix” an election.

The election in question is the annual Zagat survey, the poll that asks those dining at restaurants which ones they like or dislike and why. Mr. Carrion and his government-funded “Bronx Tourism Council” (yes, there is such a thing), are distributing thousands of cards in the borough’s restaurants urging people to vote for their favorites. Prominently featured is the fact that casting a vote earns you a free copy of the local Zagat guide. (more…)

27th April
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, April 27, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

The resignation of Carmen Fariña as deputy chancellor for teaching and learning comes as no surprise to city education insiders. Rumors have been swirling for weeks that she was leaving her post, having risen as far as she could in the Department of Education hierarchy. It has been clear in recent months that the direction of the department has drifted away from changes in pedagogy and more toward restructuring and new management techniques.

Those close to Ms. Fariña have suggested that she initially took the job with an understanding that Chancellor Joel Klein would be moving on during Mayor Bloomberg’s second term and that she would be able to end her long career in the city schools as chancellor. This, apparently, is not in the cards. Mr. Klein appears to be here for the duration, while Ms. Fariña is thought not to be a favorite of the mayor. Because she is comfortably beyond retirement age, she may make more in pension benefits than she would get in her job. (more…)

Previous