Archive for August, 2003

29th August

First Published in The New York Sun, August 29, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

Thousands of suddenly ex-teachers are standing on unemployment lines because they failed to meet qualifications for state certification. Doubts remain about whether the same standards will be applied to those hand-selected for the higher posts in New York City’s school system.

The chair of the Assembly Education Committee, Steve Sanders, reports that 25 of the 113 Local Instructional Superintendents still lack the proper state certification to hold their posts. That number was even higher when the $135,000-ayear educrats were appointed by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and the deputy for instruction, Diana Lam, last spring, the State Education Department reports. Mr. Sanders raised this issue with Mr. Klein at a public hearing in early July.The chancellor assured the assemblyman that anyone not in compliance with state law would be removed by the start of school. (more…)

25th August

First Published in The New York Sun, August 25, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

Recently, I returned from a vacation in Italy, a country that I have had the great delight to visit a number of times in the past 30 years.

My modus operandi when traveling in Italy is to rent a car and drive between cities. When my wife and I were discussing our itinerary for this trip, we found that the distance between a stop in Perugia, and our final destination, Lake Maggiore, was a bit too long for me to comfortably drive. The solution was an intermediate stop, a pleasant prospect in a country where nearly every city and town is worthy of a visit.
When I suggested that we might want to revisit Bologna, my wife was skeptical. Our first visit there in 1976 was a flop. But that was then and this is now,
so we decided to give Bologna a second chance. I’m glad we did.

22nd August

First Published in The New York Sun, August 22, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

News has been sparse from the far-flung outposts of New York’s public school empire, a calm before the storm and the disaster that many fear will begin to engulf our children when they return to class in September. The little news received, filtered out of the Tweed fortress by the most active network of rumor and gossip in recent memory, only confirms the worst fears. The buzz in the regional offices, the regional operating centers, and Tweed itself has become a far more reliable source of information than the educational leaders themselves.

When you read between the lines and take a closer look at the little hard and accurate information that trickles out of Tweed, you get a different picture than the one being painted by Chancellor Joel Klein and his deputy for teaching and learning, Diana Lam. (more…)

8th August

First Published in The New York Sun, August 8, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

Summertime, 2004, and the livin’ is real easy for New York City’s failing students. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein can barely disguise his disdain for the city’s suddenly controversial summer school program, which was initiated as part of the effort to end social promotion during the brief alliance between the “Two Rudys,”former Mayor Giuliani and former Chancellor Crew.

These classes are offered to children who failed to meet promotional standards and are being held back. For the most part these are children who scored at “level one” — far below grade level — in either reading, math, or both. They are tutored in small groups, and at the conclusion of the fiveweek session are re-tested. If they pass, they move up to the next grade.It is a last chance for students to win promotion and avoid repeating a grade, or for the high school students, a class failed. (more…)

1st August

First Published in The New York Sun, August 1, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

This summer, with much fanfare, Schools Chancellor Klein has welcomed the first class into his new Leadership Academy, established to train principals to work in New York City public schools. The recognition of the need for innovative methods to train new principals is astute on the part of the Bloomberg administration. Given the demographics of the current staff, it seems reasonable to assume that, within five years, most of today’s principals will have left their posts. But one has to question the wisdom of the structure being established by Mr.Klein and Mayor Bloomberg.

This is, after all, a Leadership Academy for our public schools, despite the fact that Mr. Klein has cleverly arranged for it to be funded by private donations — most of which come from the Wallace Foundation, which is endowed by the family that made their fortune through their ownership of Reader’s Digest. This is not a private enterprise. As the press release announcing the launch of the project said, the “Leadership Academy is the centerpiece of the Department of Education’s systemwide effort to create more effective schools.” But just as Reader’s Digest offers condensed versions of articles and books, Mr. Klein’s offers a condensed version of public accountability. According to the Department of Education, “the Academy is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.” (more…)