Archive for June, 2004

25th June
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, June 25, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

Hooray for new math, New-hoo-hoo-math, It won’t do you a bit of good to review math. It’s so simple, So very simple, That only a child can do it! o sang the satirist (and college mathematics professor) Tom Lehrer.The new math he was referring to was the kind of math taught to me at J.H.S. 79 in the Bronx by my seventh-grade math teacher, Helen Kaufman.

There was no attempt to salvage our selfesteem other than the satisfaction we got from getting exactly the right answer. Mrs. Kaufman stretched our thinking about numbers by teaching us to solve problems in base-eight, rather than the familiar base-10 or decimal system. Mr. Lehrer offers a fine definition of this system: “Base eight is just like base ten really — if you’re missing two fingers.”
Most of us got it, without sacrificing any body parts. (more…)

18th June
2004

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

By Andrew Wolf

The 1976 rescue by Israel of the Jews held as hostages taken from a plane in Entebbe, Uganda, was one of the uplifting events in the history of the civilized world.

For me, this was an exhilarating moment. I was vacationing in Italy when I learned of this liberation by the brave commandos of the Israel’s Defense Forces, led by Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu. He was the only one of the heroes to lose his life in the mission.  (more…)

15th June
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, June 15, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

The City Council Education Committee will hold hearings tomorrow on the burgeoning smallschool movement that has been gaining ground at the Department of Education.

This movement, driven by foundation dollars, promises — some say threatens — to transform the school system. The committee will look into whether that is a good thing.  (more…)

11th June
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, June 11, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

Now begins the time for the accountability on schools that we were promised by Mayor Bloomberg. The first test results under the new Department of Education are not good news. And the mayor, instead of acknowledging the disappointing results, is regrettably making excuses for them, doing himself exactly what he used to criticize the old Board of Education for.

The most troublesome results — on fourthand eighth-grade English Language Assessment tests administered by the State of New York — show a nearly three-point drop in the fourth grade. This breaks a trend established during the previous four years of steady growth.In 1999, just 32.7% of the city’s fourth graders tested at grade-level in reading.This rose to 52.4% by last year. But this year, under the new “reform” program, scores dropped for the first time since the baseline was established.  (more…)