Archive for October, 2004

29th October
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, October 29, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

Henry Stern, the former Parks Commissioner who has become one of our city’s most knowledgeable watchdogs of the public interest, has issued a challenge to anyone who wants to present an alternative view on Guy Velella’s early release from prison. No one has yet taken advantage of this offer to make a case on Velella’s behalf.

Until now.

As the editor of newspapers that circulate in his home borough, I have followed Velella throughout his public career. I like him, and I have turned to him for support on public policy matters that impacted on my community. I have endorsed him on the editorial pages of my papers.

(more…)

25th October
2004

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

By Andrew Wolf

Is the campaign for president winds to a close, there is little discussion on issues relating to education, with the one exception of the  amount of funding of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Even in this area of contention, the gap between the president and Senator Kerry is surprisingly small. The Democratic nominee promises to fully fund NCLB. The president’s current budget proposal falls $7 billion short of what the Republicans look upon as a funding “ceiling,” rather than a mandate. Beyond fully funding the current authorization, Mr. Kerry would add an additional $3 billion.  (more…)

21st October
2004

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

By Andrew Wolf

Two weeks ago, the Department of Education released the results of the fourth- and eighthgrade math tests administered by the state last May. Needless to say, the announcement was made with much fanfare,highlighting the “progress” being made by the administration. But these results also shed a harsh light on what passes for “standards” in mathematics. Children today are not receiving an adequate background in math. The “dumbing down” of mathematics instruction may even be a national security concern.

We are mistaken if we assume that the advent of cheap pocket calculators has rendered the teaching of math irrelevant. This is one of the dangerous ideas behind the “fuzzy” math instruction that has now been embraced by those running the Department of Education.  (more…)

8th October
2004

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

By Andrew Wolf

The future of the city’s schools is not being decided at the Tweed Courthouse or even at City Hall. Nor is it being determined by the progress of the negotiations of the teachers’ union contract. The direction the schools will take may not even be impacted in the tens of thousands of city classrooms.

The most important venue for educational change in New York City is in the Moot Courtroom at the Fordham Law School’s Lincoln Center campus. It is there that the three special masters appointed by State Supreme Court Justice Leland DeGrasse are hearing testimony that could decide the future of Gotham’s schools. The masters will make recommendations to Judge DeGrasse on what “remedies” he might impose in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.  (more…)

4th October
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, October 4, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

The effort by state Senate Republicans to hold onto the seat occupied by Guy Velella for nearly two decades has hit a brick wall.The GOP thought it had found in Democratic Assemblyman Steve Kaufman a modern day La Guardia ready to forge a victorious “fusion” effort. But come Primary Day, politicos and consultants up and down the Hudson were wiping egg off of their faces.

The Republican cause is complicated by the early release of Velella from Rikers Island,where he was serving the sentence resulting from his conviction on influence-peddling charges.Velella was sentenced to a year and was expected to serve eight or nine months. His departure from jail after little more than three months has caused a scandal.  (more…)

1st October
2004

First Published in The New York Sun, October 1, 2004

By Andrew Wolf

Midnight, June 30, 2009. Mark the date. At that moment control over New York’s public schools will almost assuredly be removed from the office of the mayor.

That’s the opinion of Diane Ravitch, a scholar who has devoted decades to the study of the history of Gotham’s school system.Her famous book on the subject,“The Great School Wars,”was first published during the time that centralized control of the schools was supplanted by decentralized community control. (more…)