Archive for December, 2003

31st December
2003

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

By Andrew Wolf

Time Magazine has its widely copied “Person of the Year” award, this year expanded, deservedly, to the entire military. I have decided to establish my own honor, to be given to the person (or persons) who has had the least impact on us. This year, that honor goes to the New York City Council. 

    This is the legislative body that our great former parks commissioner,Henry Stern,compared (unfavorably) with a rubber stamp. “At least a rubber stamp leaves an impression,” he observed.  (more…)

26th December
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, December 26, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein were quick to try and repair the damage done by two weeks of miserable publicity surrounding the school safety and discipline issue. 

    The low point was the sit-down in Far Rockaway High School between Mr. Klein, union leaders, and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott. The United Federation of Teachers president, Randi Weingarten, insisted that the summit take place at one of the troubled schools, rather than in the comfort of the Tweed Courthouse. Right on cue, as the reporters stood by, a student gone berserk was subdued by cops.  (more…)

19th December
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, December 19, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

  When I read in the New York Times last Sunday that Leon Botstein, the overachieving president of Bard College, was starting a program actually to teach high school teachers the subject matter that they are supposed to pass on to their students, I was delighted beyond words. 

    The subject of teacher training is one that has concerned me for a long time. Prospective public school teachers are caught in the stranglehold of the state-run monopoly that controls certification requirements. These programs seem to drain their energy and creativity, not to mention their bank accounts.  (more…)

16th December
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, December 16, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

  If Saddam Hussein had been captured by the New York’s Department of Education, he’d already be back in the palace, business as usual. 

The utter disaster that is the safety and disciplinary policies of our school system is was a part — a big part — of the problem before Mayor Bloomberg seized control of the school system. However, the reorganization of the Department of Education has greatly worsened this already grim situation. 

    That the mayor has assumed responsibility last week and pledged change is just fine. We expect no less. However, the change must be real, and real change in this case is radical change.  (more…)

12th December
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, December 12, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

  It appears increasingly likely that the plans for parent councils, the result of the settlement of a lawsuit between Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, and legislative leaders last spring, may not be approved by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice on the grounds that it violates the Voting Rights Act. The rejection of this insane structure would be a good thing for the students, the parents, the community at large, and the concept of democracy, even though the decision could be arrived at for the wrong reasons. 

    Under the plan, parent councils would replace elected community school boards.These councils would be composed of nine parents elected by the officers of parents’ associations of all the schools in each of the 32 community school districts. This would make New York City voters perhaps the least empowered on school matters anywhere in the nation.That serves the interests of the New Tweed Ring, which seems to believe that less democracy is better than more.This is in the great totalitarian tradition, the model that much of our “reformed” education system seems to follow.  (more…)

8th December
2003

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

By Andrew Wolf

For many months I have written about the “takeover” of the New York City schools by the most radical fringe of the “progressive” education movement. In case anyone still doesn’t understand all of the implications of this, I urge that they turn their attention to remarks made by the deputy chancellor for instruction, Diana Lam, this past Friday at New York University. 

    An article in Saturday’s Daily News disclosed that, according to Ms. Lam, the chancellor will soon “change the face” of the school system’s already embattled “gifted and talented” programs. (more…)

5th December
2003

First Published in The New York Sun, December 5, 2003

By Andrew Wolf

 According to the office of City Comptroller William Thompson, the Department of Education has overspent its budget for professional service contracts by more than $200 million. Since only $150 million or so was budgeted in the first place, this is a remarkable increase in nonclassroom spending for a system that the courts have ruled does not spend an adequate amount of money educating our children. Much of this sum is directed to “teaching the teachers,” rather than children. 

    Even for our billionaire mayor, this is real money, enough to fund about 30 charter revision campaigns. How did our friends at Tweed manage to spend so much, so fast, and why? They are pouring money down the black hole called “professional development.” This is the very favorite expenditure of the “progressive” education establishment. For those who don’t understand what this is, allow me to explain. (more…)

1st December
2003

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

By Andrew Wolf

According to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, “An historic district is an area of the city designated by the Landmarks Commission that represents at least one period or style of architecture typical of one or more areas in the city’s history.” Some in the Fieldston community in Riverdale in the northwest Bronx are trying to obtain this designation for their community, a petition the commission will hear on Tuesday. If they are successful, it will demonstrate just how far we have strayed in the attempt to protect true landmarks, such as the old Penn Station, from extinction. 

Fieldston is a picturesque private community of about 250 homes built in the 1920s. Even the streets are private property, which, presently, are open to the public. This is good because Fieldston is in the center of the bustling Riverdale community, and two important thoroughfares run through it. However, despite the importance to public safety of vehicular access, the streets are closed once a year to maintain the future right to close them, perhaps even gate them, permanently.  (more…)