Archive for October, 2006

30th October
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, October 30, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

The mayor’s path to education reform has hit a speed bump.

Despite mixed results on standardized test scores, many among the city’s elite, including the editorial boards of many newspapers and top business leaders, have accepted the Bloomberg/Klein education reforms as largely successful.

But one important group has suddenly emerged as a key threat to the mayor’s hegemony over education — the city’s public school parents. If history offers any lessons, parents more often than not seem to win political battles over the schools. (more…)

27th October
2006

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

By Andrew Wolf

Last spring, the city’s schools chancellor, Joel Klein, spoke at a town meeting in Riverdale, a relatively affluent community tucked in a green corner of the Bronx, just south of the city line. He got an earful from angry parents.

Topping the list of grievances was the lack of programs for gifted and talented students. This is not due to a lack of such students. Hundreds of very bright children live in this neighborhood. In the 1980s and into the early 1990s, both Riverdale local elementary schools, P.S. 24 and P.S. 81, scored near the top in the city on standardized tests. The local middle school sent thousands of children to New York’s specialized high schools — the best indicator of how successfully a community deals with its best and brightest. Typically, over 100 children each year went on to the nearby Bronx High School of Science. (more…)

20th October
2006

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

By Andrew Wolf

When he is not busy measuring the windows in the governor’s residence for new drapes, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is calculating just how deep into New York City taxpayers’ pockets he can reach to help fund a “settlement” of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. Barring the miracle of the Court of Appeals rejecting the premise on which litigation such as this is based, New Yorkers can expect this to be costly. There is, however, another choice.

If one figures at $5 billion annually, it is likely that Mr. Spitzer will insist that the city pick up somewhere between 30% and 40% of the tab. According to published reports, he is likely to tie the CFE issue to the mayor’s continued control of the city’s public schools. This has become the “holy grail” to Mayor Bloomberg.The state doesn’t have this money, particularly if we accept Mr. Spitzer’s word that he won’t raise taxes. (more…)

16th October
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, October 16, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

This week we gained a glimpse of the two Michael Bloombergs. One is the level-headed mayor who decries the headline-grabbing politicos who seize on every accident and misfortune, and respects the rights of individuals to choose for themselves whether they want to engage in behavior that may be risky. The other is Nanny Bloomberg, who wants to make sure that all of us are insulated from even the most innocent temptations — even french fries.

When the private plane piloted by Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle smashed into an Upper East Side high rise, Gotham’s politicos rose in a rare show of bipartisanship to call for the East River to be turned into a “no-fly zone.” I fully expect the legislature to quickly pass some kind of bill that would come to be known as “Cory’s Law,” to protect future ballplayers from flying into high-rise buildings. (more…)

13th October
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, October 13, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

The dustup at the Bronx High School of Science between the principal and the parents of Korean-American students has drawn the attention of Richard Condon, the special investigator for the New York City School District, who is “looking into” the controversy. My suspicion is that he won’t find the kind of crime here that leads to indictments, but rather a pattern of incompetence and insensitivity by school administrators.

Parents of the approximately 300 students of Korean background at the school long wondered why there were no course offerings in the Korean language.There is a full language program in both Chinese and Japanese offered by the school that fulfills high school requirements. The Korean parents wondered why a similar program hadn’t been made available in their language. (more…)

6th October
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, October 6, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Angry parents of Korean-American students at the elite Bronx High School of Science have confronted school officials over the failure to implement a full-fledged foreign-language program in their native tongue.

The leaders of the school’s Korean Parents Association, which looks after the interests of an estimated 300 Korean-American students, say they have been deceived into raising more than $100,000, very little of which has gone to fulfill what they believe was a firm promise to establish such a program. (more…)

6th October
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, October 6, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

In the mid-1960s my father developed chest pains, and so the Wolf family was formally introduced to trans fats –– by our family doctor. The butter with which we slathered our morning toast and cooked our eggs was now a no-no. Instead, we were solemnly told we should substitute margarine, a trans fat then thought of as a healthy substitute for the far more dangerous — and better tasting — butter. Trans fats are in the oil that many restaurants now use to fry potatoes and other things to delicious crispness.

Now unlike my old family doctor, I am not suggesting that trans fat is a health food or even good for you. In fact, I am prepared to concede that trans fat is not good for you. Alas, most things that taste good aren’t good for you. But how bad are these things really? (more…)