Archive for February, 2005

25th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 25, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The news that sixth-grade students at a Park Slope middle school were encouraged, as a class project, to mail letters to a soldier stationed in Korea, some of which turned out to be virulently anti-war diatribes hurtful to the GI, is a disturbing reminder of how easy it is to manipulate children for political ends.

I wonder whether there were students in the class who support the war in Iraq but who felt pressured by their peers, or by the teacher, to participate.That is why the public schools must be free of this kind of politics. (more…)

24th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 24, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Anthony Weiner is often compared to his predecessor in Congress, Senator Schumer. It is said that the most dangerous place in the world in the space between Mr. Schumer and a camera. So it is with Mr. Weiner.
When Mr. Schumer vacated his Brooklyn-Queens congressional seat in 1998 to challenge Senator D’Amato, Mr. Weiner, then a member of the City Council, emerged as the surprise winner over then-Assemblywoman Melinda Katz of Queens, the perceived frontrunner; his council colleague Noach Dear, who raised a ton of cash, but finished third in the Democratic primary, and Assemblyman Dan Feldman.
(more…)

22nd February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 22, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Nobody should take too much from the New York Times poll released last week. The poll was designed more to probe the minds of New Yorkers than to simulate a real election. But there are nuggets of information to be mined.

The next mayor must clear two hurdles. The first is his or her own party primary in September, and then victory in the general election two months later. Since primary voters tend to be the most committed to their party and also tend to be the most extreme, it could well be the fringes that set the tone. Democratic primary voters are generally to the left of the party as a whole, and Republican primary voters are more right wing. (more…)

18th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 18, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Gifted and talented programs are the third rail of the politics of education in New York. These programs are popular in the neighborhoods where they still exist. Most have fallen to the leveler’s ax years ago. The former deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, Diana K. Lam, may have sealed her fate when she suggested that the Department of Education was re-evaluating them. The outcry made her a political liability.

The recent disclosure that a secret panel was studying the issue precipitated the introduction of a bill in the City Council to protect and expand the programs, introduced by Council Member Lewis Fidler. (more…)

18th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 18, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

There are rumors floating around Bronx Republican circles that Mayor Bloomberg may still be denied the endorsement of the county GOP organization.

It is expected that a formal endorsement will not be made until April, by which time the former state senator, Guy Velella, will have been released from Rikers Island. Velella relinquished his post as Bronx County Republican Leader upon his conviction. The spot is now held by Victor Tosi, a long-time ally of the former senator. (more…)

14th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 14, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The events of Thursday mark a low point in the recent history of the City Council. The zoning and franchises subcommittee of the land use committee, and then the full committee, rejected an application from BJ’s Wholesale Club to build a new store in the east Bronx.The full council will, unless decency and common sense prevail, ratify those votes this week.

This constitutes a dangerous precedent. Decisions on land use are supposed to be made on grounds relating to land-use issues. This decision was a demonstration of the raw political power of organized labor. BJ’s is one of those “big box” stores that sell consumer goods at low prices. They also typically have a non-union workforce — the real reason the zoning application was denied. (more…)

11th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 11, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

In education, as in so many other endeavors, it is always better to learn from the success or failure of others than to make costly mistakes yourself. That is why it is useful to study the experiences of other states, cities, and schools before committing too much to experimental programs. Recent events in California should provide a rationale for an immediate course correction here in New York.

Much of what is done in our schools today falls into the category of “experimental.” For instance, tens of thousands of New York City children are still herded into bilingual education programs. Hundreds of thousands of children have been educated,or in all too many cases,not educated under these programs. In many, if not most of the bilingual models found here, students are exposed to what can only be described as an environment tilted towards the child’s native language. (more…)

10th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 10, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The mayoral candidacy of C.Virginia Fields is suddenly much more compelling with the withdrawal of Council Member Charles Barron from the race, and his surprise and immediate endorsement of Ms. Fields.
It is no shock that Mr. Barron has left the race.He has raised little money and he is compelled to give up his Council seat to run for another office this year. But the support he offers Ms. Fields solidifies her claim to the African-American electorate in this race.

(more…)

8th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 8, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get up in the morning. Mayor Bloomberg had one of those days on Friday, when everything seemed to go wrong, and go wrong in a way that will keep coming back at him in the months ahead as he seeks a second term.

When the mayor opened his morning papers he read about a nasty incident that took place Thursday at the Adlai Stevenson High School campus in the Bronx.The principal of one of the component small high schools, handpicked by Mr. Bloomberg’s Department of Education, got into a shoving match with a police officer over the arrest of a student. The Stevenson campus is one of the “impact sites,” dangerous schools where the mayor has brought in the police to restore order. (more…)

4th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 4, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

It is widely acknowledged that America’s schools are troubled and our children not given the education they need and deserve. This is not a problem unique to New York, but rather one that is shared by many American communities, rich and poor.

We debate about the best ways to teach reading, a matter of crucial concern to the children most at risk, a conversation that must continue and expand. But most American students do, eventually, learn to read.
Rarely discussed is what happens next.
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