Archive for May, 2004

28th May

First Published in The New York Sun, May 28, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

The political season in the Bronx promises to be an unusually busy time due to a ripple effect following the resignation of Senator Guy Velella and his felony conviction. 

    Two members of the Assembly, Stephen Kaufman and Jeffrey Klein, have announced that they will attempt to succeed the senator.This will open up their Assembly seats and the prospect that the number of Jews in the borough’s Assembly delegation will be diminished to just one: Jeff Dinowitz of Riverdale.  (more…)

21st May

First Published in The New York Sun, May 21, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

Mayor Bloomberg acknowledged on his radio show last week that his Department of Education was looking like the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight,” following the testing foul-ups that are undermining his effort to “end” social promotion. 

    The mayor is said to be livid over matters going back to the controversy over the curriculum, the Diana Lam scandal, the special education crisis, and now the testing and social promotion disaster. 
    The tumult over the “ending” of social promotion is a case in point. Social promotion seems to be the kind of thing that is ended periodically, only to rise like a phoenix.  (more…)

17th May

First Published in The New York Sun, May 17, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

The fall from grace of Guy Velella, the now-resigned state senator who is expected to plead guilty to corruption charges in court today, is a Bronx tale of great talent and enormous achievement undone by hubris. 

    I have rarely met a more natural politician. But Guy Velella never learned where the ethical lines are because there was no one willing to place those limits on him.No matter what he did,the voters turned a blind eye to his indiscretions.The more trouble he was able to finesse his way out of, the further he would venture into the ethical morass. He was always dancing on the edge.  (more…)

14th May

First Published in The New York Sun, May 14, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

  Seattle has its Space Needle, Toronto its CN Tower, Paris the Eiffel Tower. These may be useless structures. But they have come to represent their cities and the aspirations of the people who live there. The Bronx also has a tower, and just like the counterparts in these other cities, this tower is also a symbol of the time and place. This is the Fordham University radio tower, which lies half-completed on the eastern end of the Rose Hill campus. 

    It has been this way for 10 years, a monument to bureaucratic inertia and the power of activists to stop projects. Yet it now appears that the standoff may finally be ending,though I won’t believe it until the tower is gone and the replacement operational. 

    Fordham’s radio station, WFUV-FM, is authorized to transmit at 50,000 watts, the most powerful signal allowed by law. But their antenna, which used to sit atop Keating Hall, was not high enough for them to enjoy the benefits of their strong signal.  (more…)

7th May

First Published in The New York Sun, May 7, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

Smaller is better.This is one of those feel-good theories that now rule the New York public schools. 
Rich people, no doubt with the best of intentions, have opened their wallets to fund the spread of this concept. Microsoft’s Bill Gates, the world’s richest person, has kicked in $51 million to further this idea in our high schools. 

As I suggested in a column in October, this may be “Gates’ Revenge” on his old nemesis, Schools Chancellor Klein, who as a top Clinton Justice Department official targeted Microsoft as a monopoly. 
There is no dispute that New York’s high schools are a disaster. But it is not because they are too big.These same schools were successful in educating millions of students, including those from the poorest homes,for generations.How did these once-great schools fall so far, so fast?  (more…)