Archive for October, 2003

31st October
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, October 31, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

Many supporters of charter schools will doubtlessly be delighted by Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement of a new structure to fund and establish new charters. I say, “Proceed with caution.” Before the celebration, we need to ask ourselves whether these new charters will turn out to be “Klein Klones” or “Lam Lemons,” sharing the same fate as the hundreds of our conventional public schools forced to follow the most radical “progressive” education theology, as imparted by the supposedly visionary Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Diana Lam. 

    The drama unfolding across the city regarding the fate of education for academically advanced children offers important lessons for those interested in charters.  (more…)

24th October
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, October 24, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

When is good news bad news? When the good news make it a lot mor difficult to reach your ultimate goal That’s the position that Mayo Bloomberg and Schools Chancello Joel Klein find themselves in. 

    Scores on the 4th- and 8th-grad statewide math tests were release earlier this week. These were th tests administered last spring, whil city schools were still using th “old” curricula.  (more…)

17th October
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, October 17, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

William Gates came to town recently bearing a $51 million gift to help create new small high schools in New York out of the much larger failing ones, schools that parents and students alike have come to loathe and fear. To me, it looks like Mr. Gates is finally getting revenge on his old nemesis, the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, who led the Clinton administration’s antitrust effort against Microsoft. 

    To say that New York City’s high schools are in trouble is an enormous understatement. Unfortunately, the answer to fixing the high schools will not be found in slicing and dicing all of the existing schools into new cutesy themebased mini-schools. 

    The answer to our high school dilemma will come when we fix the education that we are providing to our children, from kindergarten through the 8th grade. It is a sad reality that while small victories can sometimes be realized working with older students, it is exceedingly difficult for these kids to “catch up” once they arrive in high school.  (more…)

14th October
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, October 14, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning” is destined to become one of the most discussed — and despised — books on the nation’s crisis in education in quite some time. It will be discussed because it calmly, methodically, and honestly describes the distressing problems that surround the gaps in academic performance among racial groups in America’s schools. It will be despised by those unwilling or unable to confront hard and often painful truths. Those who would rather shoot the messengers than address the concerns they raise will find “No Excuses” a convenient target. 

    The authors — Abigail Thernstrom, a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Education and a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and her husband Stephan, a Harvard history professor — have individually and together authored a small library of well-regarded books on historical and social issues, including 1997’s “America in Black and White.” The painful and thorny issues concerning race are familiar ground to them.  (more…)

10th October
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, October 10, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

How much money will it take to educate a child adequately in New York City? That’s the subject that will soon be considered by dueling commissions, one appointed by Governor Pataki, the other by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the plaintiffs in the successful lawsuit that had alleged that not enough money is being spent on education. 

    We might as well establish commissions to determine the number of angels that can stand on the head of a pin. For some, there will never be enough money. For others, anything is too much. The real answer to the money dilemma is to spend the least amount to get the job done. To determine that, we need to take a hard look at not just what’s allocated, but how it’s spent. (more…)

3rd October
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, October 3, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

There are few subjects in the field of education that provoke more passionate debate than the role of testing. By nature we’re suspicious of tests. After all, even the smartest of us have occasionally messed up on an important exam. 

Winston Churchill once observed, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.” Similarly, the use of objective testing devices is the worst form of student assessment — except for all the other devices.  (more…)

1st October
2003

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

By Andrew Wolf

Poor children are on buses for hours, traveling between distant corners of the city in search of a better school. It’s a high price to pay for a good education. But when they arrive at their destination, are they getting what they bargained for? The answer is no. These children are victims of a perfect storm of bureaucratic incompetence: an ill-conceived federal law, administered in a ham-handed way by an insensitive state agency, implemented by clueless educrats here in the city. 

    The much-heralded No Child Left Behind law seems to be leaving not just these children on the bus, but it possibly is diminishing the educational opportunities of thousands of other children as well. Those children have no option to leave their schools, despite the fact that they attend schools that are “failing” when measured by the same criteria that allowed the other children to transfer.  (more…)