Archive for June, 2005

30th June
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, June 30, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

One of the first political lessons I learned as a teenage political junkie many years ago, was that here in New York, the reporting in the daily newspapers on the campaigns was — more often than not — inaccurate. New York is a very big place, and reporters, no matter how savvy, can’t know the ins and outs of every single one of the city’s scores of neighborhoods.

That’s why it came as no surprise to see the amount of publicity that a possible endorsement of Mayor Bloomberg by a Bronx Democratic political club got in the press earlier this week. I may not have encyclopedic knowledge of all the political nuances in Red Hook or Tottenville, but I do know a great deal about the political goings on in my own borough and neighborhood. (more…)

28th June
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, June 28, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The famous photograph of a tightlipped Mayor Bloomberg being kissed by Bertha Lewis, the executive director of the far-left activist group ACORN, is displayed in glorious color on the front page of the current issue of City Limits magazine. A few weeks ago, the same liplock was featured on the editorial page of the Sun. That a Republican mayor, Mr. Bloomberg, is the recipient of this “bacio della morte”from the far left’s diva of dependency is astounding.

Even more surprising is that Mr. Bloomberg is lionized in much of this issue of the magazine as “the people’s mayor.” But amazingly, Mr. Bloomberg appears to be able to move as far to the left as he wants, without paying any price from Republicans, who can’t possibly agree with even a small part of Ms. Lewis’s agenda. (more…)

27th June
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, June 27, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The City Council’s education committee,chaired by Eva Moskowitz, is holding a public hearing today on the unprecedented increases in scores on this year’s standardized tests.

There are plenty of questions to be raised. Educators are usually — and rightly — suspicious of extraordinary increases and decreases in scores. (more…)

24th June
2005

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

By Andrew Wolf

The Board of Regents has once again delayed implementation of a key element in the fight to raise academic standards. This was the year that the passing grade for Regents exams was to be restored to 65 from the 55 that was “temporarily” put in place. This was done so that the new requirement that students pass five of the exams in order to get an academic high school diploma could be “fairly” phased in.The board has put off full implementation of this for another three years, opting instead for a gradual phase-in.

To win a New York State academic diploma, students are now required to pass five Regents examinations — five tests in as long as it takes (and New York City schools are required to allow students to attend high school up to age 21), and in as many tries as it takes. When initially adopted, the Regents, to ease in this new, but hardly onerous, requirement reduced the passing grade to just 55. And even the score of 55 does not mean that 55% of the questions were answered correctly — on the math exam, for instance, providing the right answer on just 31% of the questions earns the grade of 55. (more…)

23rd June
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, June 23, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

There isn’t a scintilla of good news for any of the Democratic candidates in the results of the Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday. What it shows for them is a disaster in the making, an election that Mayor Bloomberg increasingly seems destined to win decisively.

It isn’t just the matchups between the mayor and his prospective opponents that provide the grim news. It is that the results offer no clear road map for any Democrat to turn the situation around. Of course, there is a long time between now and the election. Anything can happen. But it is the mayor with his millions who is better positioned to smooth bumps in the road as they develop than his prospective opponents who must search for the magic bullet with which to slay the giant while trying to raise campaign funds. (more…)

21st June
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, June 21, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

My colleague Jill Gardiner is onto something and is digging a bit deeper into the mailings sent by the City Council recently that are, at least to most voters, indistinguishable from campaign mailings.This is no small expenditure, as Council Speaker Gifford Miller suggests. If the slick “17-Seat” piece about school class size went out to only 75,000 voters, then the $37,000 figure may hold water. But my suspicion is that many more pieces than that were mailed out.

I am told on good authority that when the City Council does these mailings, they are mailed to all households from the voter list, regardless of party affiliation. That’s one of the reasons why it is possible that this mailing — which everyone seemed to receive, — could have cost 10 or more times the stated amount. But that mailing is just the tip of the iceberg. (more…)

16th June
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, June 16, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

When it comes to the question of sports stadiums, there is one candidate for mayor who has a lot of experience on which to draw. That candidate is Fernando Ferrer, who, as president of the Bronx, fought a long, hard, and almost losing battle to keep the Yankees in his borough.

On one level, Mr. Ferrer was admirably supportive of his borough and gave no ground. But his zeal almost resulted in the team leaving the Bronx. Mr. Ferrer’s personality and that of George M. Steinbrenner III were like oil and water. It was only good fortune and happy circumstance that kept the Yankees here through the rocky years of the Ferrer administration. (more…)

14th June
2005

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

By Andrew Wolf

It is an admirable trait for an elected official to be able to make lemonade when confronted with a carload of lemons. At first blush, this is exactly the position Michael Bloomberg finds himself in. He has taken the significant political defeat he suffered last week, when the West Side stadium plan was rejected, picked himself up, dusted himself off, and come up with a viable substitute.

By presenting the Willetts Point alternative site, the mayor appears to have not only salvaged the city’s sagging Olympic bid, but also scored some political points for doggedness in the face of adversity. (more…)

13th June
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, June 13, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The floodgates appear to be opening for other municipalities in the state to copy the strategy the Campaign for Fiscal Equity used to win additional funds for New York City schools through judicial order. A lawsuit filed by education officials in Yonkers seeks tens of millions of dollars a year in additional state aid. Similar lawsuits are expected from upstate cities and economically depressed rural areas.

This is happening as the concept of “equity funding” appears to have won permanent institutional backing from one of the nation’s leading schools of education, Columbia University Teachers College. To lead a new Campaign for Educational Equity, the school has hired the activist attorney who led the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Michael Rebell. The school has established the goal of raising $12 million the first year to finance the new institute, which seeks to close the gap between education expenditures for children from rich and poor households. (more…)

10th June
2005

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

By Andrew Wolf

Classes in New York City public schools are unlikely to be reading Ray Bradbury’s science-fiction novel about censorship, “Fahrenheit 451.” Instead, they may be victimized by a radical pedagogical movement that has prevented entire classes from reading any full-length work of literature. Call it a kind of divide-and-conquer censorship, the sort of thinking that has some of our best teachers heading for the doors.
I know of one seventh-grade English teacher in a city public school who is filling cartons now with the materials and memorabilia of the four years she has spent in her Queens classroom. She is leaving the city system for greener pastures: a job in one of the suburban districts.

(more…)

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