Archive for March, 2004

26th March
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, March 26, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

 New York City public school teachers, please pay attention. Chancellor Klein has given all of you a green light to undo what is among the most ridiculous in his grab bag of ill-conceived “reforms.” 

    According to his message to teachers in the first issue of his teacher newsletter, “Connections,” Mr. Klein advises teachers that they can arrange the desks in the classrooms as they see fit. 

    “I don’t support some of the practices that you told me about in some of your emails to me. Whether a ‘mini-lesson’ lasts for 10 or 12 minutes should be left to the professional judgment of the teacher, as should the decision about how and where children sit in their classrooms.”  (more…)

19th March
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, March 19, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

The idea of accountability of our school system is clearly one that resonates. No one was comfortable with a system that seemed to stumble along in a self-perpetuating cycle of mediocrity. That is why public clamor finally gave to Mayor Bloomberg what had eluded his predecessors — Mayors Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani — control over the schools. 

    But, in truth, there is little accountability here. We will only have one opportunity to hold the mayor accountable: on November 8, 2005. One of the unintended consequences of the imposition of term limits is that voters get only one shot to judge Mr. Bloomberg’s effectiveness. There is no guarantee that the schools will even be at the top of the list of concerns that day.  (more…)

12th March
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, March 12, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

The idea that the forced resignations of the deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, Diana Lam, and general counsel Chad Vignola has somehow resolved the problems at the Department of Education is one that should be resisted. The underlying problems that caused the scandal are still there and must be addressed. 

On Monday, Ms. Lam was asked to resign following revelations made in a report issued a week ago by the special investigator for the New York City Schools, Richard J. Condon. The report outlines the events surrounding Ms. Lam’s attempt to secure a job with the Department of Education for her husband, Peter Plattes. Mr. Vignola was implicated by the report as having coordinated efforts to cover up the hiring of Mr. Plattes, by terming him a “volunteer.” He resigned Wednesday evening. (more…)

8th March
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, March 8, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein may have to face the music today over findings that one of his key deputies forced staffers to give her husband a job and then tried to cover it up. 

    Mayor Bloomberg has called Mr.Klein on the carpet over a report that said Deputy Chancellor Diana Lam got her husband,Peter Plattes,a $100,000 job as a Bronx regional administrator, even though he lacked the qualifications.  (more…)

5th March
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, March 5, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

There is no question that the pernicious practice of social promotion, the passing on of failing kids from grade to grade based on their age rather than their performance-needs to be ended. This has been an issue raised again and again for the past quarter century, kept alive largely through the efforts of Herman Badillo, who has been a lonely voice for the restoration of high standards to our public education system at all levels. 

    Had Mr. Badillo been elected mayor instead of Michael Bloomberg, and if he were running the schools, I have no doubt that the school system would look greatly different from the ultra-“progressive” touchy-feely model put in place by Chancellor Klein and his deputy for teaching and learning, Diana Lam. 

    That’s why it saddens me to see Mr. Badillo allowing himself to be used as a prop to defend Mr. Klein’s wrong-headed promotional policy.  (more…)