Archive for February, 2004

27th February
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, February 27, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

Schools Chancellor Klein is out in California today, participating in a debate over whether there is an economic crisis in education, a key event in the first annual Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Economic Summit. 

    Mr. Klein would be well advised to watch his back. Why? Because the man who is my personal choice to replace him as chancellor will be speaking at this event as well.  (more…)

20th February
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, February 20, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

The first clue that perhaps the concept of Mayor Bloomberg controlling the public schools might not have been such a grand idea after all came less than three weeks after Mr. Bloomberg formally assumed control of the schools, at a press conference in the Blue Room at City Hall on July 18, 2002. Introducing his seven appointees to the city’s Panel for Educational Policy — the chancellor, at that point unnamed, is the eighth mayoral member, while the borough presidents pick one member each — the mayor shocked many in the room by declaring, “I do not expect to see their names,ever,in the press answering a question either on the record or off the record.” 

    The mayor went on to say, “They don’t have to speak, and they don’t have to serve. That’s what serving ‘at the pleasure’ means.”  (more…)

18th February
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, February 18, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

 Filmmaker Spike Lee was recently quoted in the New York Times with an important observation. “That whole experiment — white flight to the suburbs — really did not work out. All the things they ran away from followed them to the suburbs.” That huge sections of his home borough of Brooklyn are now gentrifying is something that has not escaped the notice of Mr. Lee. 

    The children of the baby boomers are headed back to the city, and many of them choose to stay, even after they have children of their own. However, rather than fleeing the things “that followed them to the suburbs,” I believe that they are looking for the things that didn’t. They want the energy and interaction that the city provides, and as a result, neighborhoods once given up for dead are resurging.  (more…)

13th February
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, February 13, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

 When public policy starts going sour, smart officials and bureaucrats look to change direction. That was the case with the two great turnarounds in city services of the last generation, public safety and welfare. To those on the outside, it appeared that the education “reform” ushered in when Mayor Bloomberg won control of the New York City public school system would radically change the direction of the system. It is now clear that the exact same problems that beset the old Board of Education continue to plague the schools today. This comes as no surprise to the most perceptive observers of the school system. 

    I don’t like to characterize educational policy as either left wing or right wing, preferring instead to focus on what works and what doesn’t. For some reason, however, folks in the center and the right seem to favor a rigorous traditional approach, and most on the left prefer the softer,“progressive” agenda. It is in that direction that the school system had been drifting in for many, many years, a direction that brought the schools to the point at which Mr. Bloomberg declared them an abject failure.  (more…)

6th February
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, February 6, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

 Imagine if the president of the nation’s most prestigious medical school dismissed the idea of the federal government insisting that drugs and therapies be tested for efficacy and safety, employing the best scientific methodology. Imagine if he proposed that we leave it to the localities to use whatever treatments they favored, backed up by nothing more than the belief system of the local witch doctor.The outcry would be enormous. Yet last week the president of one of our nation’s best-known schools of education did exactly that. 

    One of the most remarkable — and revealing — articles about the state of education appeared in the January 28, 2004,edition of the Daily News.In it,the president of Columbia University Teachers College, Arthur Levine, strongly attacked the federal government for insisting that reading programs must be proven by scientific research to actually work in order to receive funding. By questioning this perfectly reasonable provision of the law, Mr. Levine reveals himself and his institution to be advocates of what it nothing more than educational alchemy. Our children deserve better.  (more…)