Education

6th November
2008

By Andrew Wolf

Lost in the tidal wave of news surrounding the election was the announcement that State Education Commissioner Richard Mills will be leaving his post after thirteen years.

Mr. Mills began his tenure as a fresh breeze of reform, attempting to impose high academic standards on a sinking system. But he has morphed into a leading apologist for systematic test inflation that undermines educational policy at all levels.

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1st November
2008

First Published on the Public Advocate’s Corner October 29, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Shortly after I began writing a regular column for The New York Sun six-and-a-half years ago, the mayor was given control of the New York City public schools. During that period I have written around two hundred columns on the schools, most of which discuss various aspects of mayoral control.

I am by nature a skeptical fellow, and the story of the educational “reform” that has taken place since then has given me much to be skeptical about. Unfortunately, last month the Sun published its final issue, so now is as good a time as any to reflect on this remarkable story that I have followed since the beginning.

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29th September
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, September 29, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

For the past six-and-a-half years I have frequently occupied space on these pages sounding off on everything from nepotism in Bronx politics to politically induced fear of eating French fries or Frosted Flakes. Most often I have written about our schools.

I came to this task with a point of view, influenced by the events of 1968 and 1969, turbulent years for society, but particularly for New York’s schools.

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5th September
2008

Published in The New York Sun. September 5, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

A commission, appointed by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, has recommended a revision in the State Education law, putting restrictions on the power of the mayor to run the city’s public schools. Lurking in the background is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, the issue of term limits.

The two issues are intertwined, and indeed the mayor’s inflexibility, rejecting any proposal for change in school governance, suggests that he will indeed move to end or modify term limits, to allow him to run for a third term.

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29th August
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, August 29, 2008

It is now just 10 months before the expensive experiment that is mayoral control of Gotham’s public schools is set to expire. And as parents ready their children for the start of classes Tuesday, the news has been released that the average S.A.T. scores have declined here once again.

There was no press extravaganza. No Power Point presentations, no top officials, union leaders at their side, beaming as the results were outlined. No, troubling test results turn out to be an orphan.

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11th August
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, August 11, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

A third group has begun public hearings on the future of mayoral control of the public schools, due to sunset in less than a year, on July 1, 2009.

This panel, the “New York City School Governance Task Force,” is sponsored by the New York State Senate Democratic minority. It may well be the Democratic majority come January, which would greatly diminish the mayor’s clout in Albany.

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4th August
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, August 4, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Could it be that just a few short years ago, at the top of the list of news stories in our city and state were the machinations surrounding the lawsuit filed by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity to “adequately” fund New York’s schools?

I have written on this topic in this space perhaps a dozen times during the past six years, each time cautioning that the idea that merely spending more money will result in better outcomes. But for all our spending –and education expenditures have increased in the city by 79% in just six years - the pace of improvement, if any, is negligible.

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25th July
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, July 25, 2008

By Andrew Wolf
If we were somehow travel ahead in time, say a decade from now, and land in New York City, one thing is for certain: we will be still be talking of the crisis in education, complaining about graduation rates, wringing our hands over the loss of our competitive position in the world marketplace.

The Bloomberg reforms? They will fade away as surely as the morning dew.

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11th July
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, July 11, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Next week, some 30 educators from Shenzhen, China are attending seminars sponsored by the College of Mount St. Vincent “to study the concepts, practices, institutions, policies, and learning strategies embedded … specifically within New York City where test scores are ever improving, and put those concepts into practice back in China,” according to the announcement of the program released by the college.

I would suggest that perhaps we turn things around and have the Chinese educators teach us a thing or two. Clearly we are lagging behind by any fair measure as evidenced by the results of the NAEP and SAT tests. New York is falling behind as we keep lowering our definition of “proficient.”

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27th June
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, June 27, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

When one digs into the testing data released by the State Education Department earlier this week, one comes up with some surprises. The huge across the board gains in the statewide math and English language arts tests would suggest that all children should be doing better. But one group seems to be adrift when it comes to the English test.

Curiously, it is not the low performers, special education students, minorities, English language learners, or other “at risk” groups that is lagging behind. Rather, despite the soaring scores, it is the group of highest performers that is shrinking.

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