Archive for May, 2006

26th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 26, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

There can be no doubt that Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch are two of the most influential figures in American education today. But usually not to the same people. Their philosophies are so different that it would seem impossible for them to find common ground.Yet, in an article in the new issue of Education Week, that is what they did.

Ms. Meier is a central figure of the small school movement. She believes that things like curriculum are best decided school-by-school and is at home among the so-called “progressive” educators who believe in the “child-centered” approach by which students are to construct their own knowledge, facilitated, but not directly taught, by a teacher. Tests? Ms. Meier seems never to have found one of which she wasn’t suspicious. (more…)

25th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 25, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Public schools in Riverdale may again get gifted and talented programs following a meeting between the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, and parents in the Bronx.

The chancellor traveled to Riverdale Tuesday evening, fulfilling a long-standing promise to speak to the Education Committee of Bronx Community Board 8. A few weeks ago, the issue of gifted and talented programs,long festering in the background, took center stage. (more…)

19th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 19, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

On Tuesday, voters throughout New York State went to the polls to approve — or reject — local school budgets and elect the school boards that submit these budgets.Only New York City and the city of Yonkers have been deemed by the legislature as unworthy of this privilege.

This kind of democracy involves all citizens in the discussion of education, whether they have children in the public schools or not. Parents obviously have a stake,as do those who may work in the system.The truth is that everyone has a stake in education. Voters must balance the impact on their wallets with the benefits the schools bring to their area. This can be the larger societal benefit of a well-educated population or the narrower benefit of rising property values. This year about 90% of the state’s school budgets were approved, an increase over recent years. (more…)

12th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 12, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Over the past few weeks I have learned a more about the city’s efforts to provide “equity” for academically advanced students. Failure to air this issue fully in recent years this has left many tens of thousands of our children shortchanged, most of them minority children. Rather than improve the situation, as Mayor Bloomberg promised in his re-election campaign, the cure has made matters worse.

This did not begin during this administration, although the promulgation of new rules to promote “equity” in admissions to programs for the academically advanced have already begun to have the opposite effect.Nowhere is this clearer than in Region One, which comprises most of the west Bronx. Of the 10 regions in the city, Region One has a special distinction. Despite being home to over 100,000 students, more than many big cities, it alone has not a single “self-contained” class in grades K-8 for gifted and talented students. (more…)

9th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 9, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

If you were to walk on the lush, treelined 18-acre campus of the Fieldston School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, you could imagine that you are on a campus of the Ivy League. The campus has a college feel, with a quad, archways, a well-stocked library, a theater, a dining hall, and athletic facilities to accommodate nearly any sport.

This ambiance is not lost on parents who aspire to see their children move on to actual Ivy League schools. None of Fieldston’s Manhattan competitors can physically match this mini-university atmosphere.To immerse their children in this collegiate environment, parents pay a college-like tuition of $28,545 a year. (more…)

5th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 5, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

The hysteria over the recently discovered “childhood obesity epidemic” has now reached fever pitch. Key players in America’s soft drink industry voluntarily agreed to remove their products that contain sugar from sale in schools. This agreement covers all schools, public, private, parochial, presumably even charters.

On the other hand, the folks who own those snack vans one finds parked outside of schools must really be whooping it up. Children will still drink Coke and Pepsi and Gatorade, but they will buy it from outside vendors.

This comes on the heels of Mayor Bloomberg’s decree banning whole milk from city schools, replacing it with the low-fat variety.The state of Connecticut has gone even further. Only skim milk may be served in Connecticut schools (more…)

4th May
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, May 4, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

E.D. Hirsch, the scholar who has become a leading critic of the state of American education, will speak today at a luncheon at the Princeton Club sponsored by the Manhattan Institute.

It is not surprising to find Mr. Hirsch among the scholars at the Manhattan Institute, where his message of high academic standards has long resonated. Nor is it surprising that Mr. Hirsch, who is in town to promote his much-anticipated new book, “The Knowledge Deficit” (Houghton Mifflin, $22), has similar support among members of a group not often held in high regard at the Manhattan Institute — the teachers unions.

It is not that the end days are approaching and the lion has lain down with the lamb. Mr. Hirsch’s unique contribution to the American educational scene transcends ideology. (more…)