Archive for July, 2006

28th July
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, July 28, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Two weeks ago, the United States Department of Education released a study that cut to the core of conservative and liberal education orthodoxy. Released on a Friday, so as to be consigned to Saturday coverage, the report demonstrates that there is little, if any gap between student performance at public and private schools.

Private and religious schools do perform better than public schools. But when adjusted by breaking out the performance of children of similar racial and economic backgrounds, the advantage evaporates. (more…)

21st July
2006

First Published in The New York Sun,  July 21, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

We are now well past the halfway point in New York’s great experiment with mayoral control of the schools, an experiment that appears to be a work in progress. When first passed, few commented about one curious provision of the law — it is due to sunset exactly seven years after it was first passed. Seven years seemed like an eternity back in 2002. But now we are only three years away from the day that if the legislature and governor do nothing, the old Board of Education and the 32 Community Districts will be reinstated, rising phoenix-like from the dead. Stranger things have happened.

It is now four years since Mayor Bloomberg made the surprising choice of Joel Klein as chancellor, and a full three years since his much-heralded “Children First” restructuring was put into place. What is there now is a creation of the current administration, which makes it all the more surprising that Chancellor Klein is not only engaged in dismantling the structure that he himself put in place to “reform” the system, but is hiring outsiders to do the job for him. (more…)

14th July
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, July 14, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

If you think that opening a Hip-Hop Museum in The Bronx is a foolish idea, I have some good news and bad news for you. The good news is that if history is any guide, this project will never come to fruition. The bad news is that the taxpayers of the City of New York can kiss the $1.5 million allocated so far good-bye.

The moving force behind this project is City Councilman Larry Seabrook. Mr. Seabrook has been down this path before, advocating for grandiose government-funded schemes that never seem to get off the ground.More than a decade ago, one of these projects, a proposed youth center in his north Bronx district, received funds from both the state and the city, but never opened, leading to newspaper headlines and a federal investigation. Incredibly, the group to which the city is awarding the money for the Hip-Hop Museum, the North East Bronx Redevelopment Corporation is the same group that was under investigation with Mr. Seabrook.This appears to me to be déjà vu all over again, a perfect example of how in government, things appear to change but always seem to remain the same. (more…)

7th July
2006

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

By Andrew Wolf

For quite a while I have been warning against pushing for the designation of the ritzy Fieldston community in the northwest Bronx as a “historic” district. Few listened, and the plan was passed despite a clear majority of homeowners ultimately opposing this designation for their properties. Now the true cost of this folly is beginning to be realized.

Designating an area as a “historic district” puts all of the structures and vacant land therein under the jurisdiction of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. This is no small matter. If your house is included, even the smallest improvement to your property must be approved by city bureaucrats, and even, in some cases, public hearings before the Commission are required to be held. Even a matter as simple as installing an air conditioner in a window must be reviewed. (more…)