Archive for March, 2006

31st March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 31, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

The current dust-up between Upper West Side parents and the city’s Department of Education brings into sharp focus a long simmering controversy over the education of academically advanced students. It doesn’t matter who is in charge, whether it is the mayor and his chancellor, or the old hybrid Board of Education, chosen by six different public officials. The same underlying philosophy prevails, guaranteeing that for middle-class parents, the New York City public school system is sure to break your heart.

A generation of educational ideological dominance by so-called “progressive” pedagogues has removed Gifted and Talented programs, once a fixture in nearly every school, from the vast majority. (more…)

29th March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 29, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Adding yet another layer of contention to an increasingly bitter dispute, new plans to apportion seats in programs for gifted and talented students on the Upper West Side of Manhattan could result in tens of thousands of dollars in busing costs in the district and perhaps millions citywide.

Following complaints from some minority parents that the gifted and talented programs in District 3 — the area covering the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, and part of West Harlem — favored white children, the city Department of Education established new admissions procedures.The new rules no longer guarantee that children who qualify for admission to a “self-contained” gifted program, which typically begins in kindergarten, can go to their home-zoned school, even if their school has such a program. Instead, seats are assigned district-wide, based on test results. Assignment preferences for siblings, routinely granted in District 3,also have been eliminated. (more…)

29th March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 29, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Members on the City Council’s landmarks subcommittee yesterday heard conflicting testimony on whether the Fieldston community in the northwest Bronx merits historic designation.

Although the hearing drew so many people that there was standing room only, only a handful of council members attended. Many dashed between rooms so they could participate in a hearing on the Yankee Stadium redevelopment project being held simultaneously in another room. (more…)

27th March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 27, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Tomorrow, the City Council will hold hearings on the proposal to declare the privately owned Fieldston community in the northwest Bronx a “historic district.”There are many reasons why this shouldn’t be done, all of which are important but largely parochial in nature. Out of this local battle, I sense a larger problem: Are we allowing the “motherhood and apple pie” aspects of historic preservation to give certain professional interests a unique license to feather their own nests?

In the discussion of this issue, the merits of the developer and architect of much of Fieldston, Dwight James Baum, has become a topic of debate. A Riverdale resident and former city buildings commissioner, Charles Moerdler, called Baum a “hack.” (more…)

24th March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 24, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

George Washington Plunkitt, whose life and philosophy were chronicled by journalist William L. Riordan (in part in the pages of this newspaper’s forebear), would approve of events in the Bronx in recent days.
Plunkitt was a New York political leader at a time when the men who ran government did so not from City Hall, or the Albany Statehouse, but from a building on East 14th Street known as Tammany Hall. Plunkitt was the Tammany District Leader of the 15th Assembly District, and conducted his business from a bootblack stand in the New York County Courthouse. He was born poor on the Upper West Side in 1842, and passed on 82 years later, a rich and powerful man.
(more…)

20th March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 20, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

The frustrations of parents on Manhattan’s West Side with new rules governing admission to gifted and talented programs are beginning to draw the attention of politicians and other community leaders throughout the city.The attention goes beyond just the mechanics of the programs to the philosophy that governs them: Increasingly, it is seen as antagonistic.

Because of the new rules emanating from the Tweed Courthouse, the choices faced by West Side parents such as Jodi and Russell Divak are grim. (more…)

17th March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 17, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Channel surfing the other night, I stumbled on a film I hadn’t seen in at least 30 years, “Cast A Giant Shadow.” The film stars Kirk Douglas, portraying a fascinating historical figure, Colonel David “Mickey” Marcus.

This is the kind of film that couldn’t be made today, at least in Hollywood. It is nothing less than a celebration of the founding of the State of Israel, without any pretense of balance.The Jews are portrayed as heroic, the Arabs as savages. (more…)

10th March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 10, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

There is a disease spreading from Europe, a dangerous pandemic that will cause death and cause palpitations in our economic growth. I’m not talking about the Avian Flu, but a rare strain of “Mast Hysteria,” as our friends in Britain call the opposition to construction of cell phone antennae.

In Albany, bill is wending its way through the Capitol. This bill, with a raft of co-sponsors from both parties, would, if passed into law, effectively shut down the installation of new cell phone antennae in our urban areas. For the most part, the crippling effects will come down on us right here, in the nation’s center of communications. In the Assembly, the lead sponsor is Queens Assemblyman Michael Gianaris,a Democrat.More ominously, Republican Frank Padavan, a legislator who usually has his head screwed on straight, is leading the charge in the State Senate. (more…)

7th March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 7, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

As the implications of the creation of a “historic district” in the Fieldston area in Riverdale become clearer, a growing number of residents are joining a last-ditch effort to thwart the plan — and they are putting their own money on the line.

Approval by the City Council is all that stands in the way of 257 properties in the elite private community from being designated as historic landmarks. If this happens, homeowners would have to win approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to make any exterior changes to their homes. Because the process is well under way, homeowners already must get such approval. (more…)

3rd March
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, March 3, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

A report was issued on Wednesday that should come as a surprise at least to those who don’t have contact with college students.The nonprofit company that administers the ACT tests, an alternative to the SATs that is more widely used in other parts of the country, concluded “too many American high school students are graduating without the reading skills they’ll need to succeed in college and in workforce training programs.”
It seems that barely half of the graduating seniors have the skills needed to handle the reading requirements for typical first year college classes. Remember, we’re not talking about the students who drop out. We’re talking about the students who do graduate.
(more…)

Previous