Archive for March, 2007

23rd March
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, March 23, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Last week, New York State revised its list of schools under registration review, the so-called SURR list. These are schools that are performing so badly that they are being considered for closing.

The idea of closing schools departs a bit from reality. Demolition crews do not come in and level the building. Usually “closing the school” means changing the name and number of the school, removing the principal and some, if not all, of the teaching staff. Most importantly for educrats, the school is now considered new, not failing, so it is removed from the SURR list. (more…)

16th March
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, March 16, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

When the founding fathers chose the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one — as the national motto, an event that took place concurrent with the 13 colonies declaring their independence, the intent was to dramatize the reality that these 13 separate entities had indeed come together as one.

Over time, the motto, which cannot be found in any classical Latin text, has been used to describe the America that evolved from the immigrant experience. (more…)

12th March
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, March 12, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Tomorrow afternoon, the members of the Legislature will gather in joint session to make four critical appointments to one of the state’s most important panels, the Board of Regents. The board controls virtually all aspects of education, including the appointment of the education commissioner.

The much-criticized concept of “three men in a room” — the governor, the speaker of the Assembly and the Senate majority leader — looks downright democratic next to the process by which our regents are chosen. This process can be called “one man in a room.” Even so, that one man, Speaker Sheldon Silver, is willing to let party hacks, or even lobbyists, recommend candidates to sit on this critical board. (more…)

9th March
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, March 9, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

There is a war going on, and New York is, once again, the front line. I’m referring not to the war on terror, but rather to the war on your right to decide for yourself what you eat.

The enemy here is not lurking in Afghanistan but right here in New York’s City Hall. The question is whether we will allow our mayor and City Council to do more damage to our freedom and our city’s economy that even Al Qaeda managed on September 11, 2001. (more…)

7th March
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, March 7, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Parents around the city who are anxiously awaiting the results of a high-stakes testing process that will decide the direction of their children’s education have a new ally in their quest to ease the pressure.

Comptroller William Thompson Jr. on Monday delivered a letter to the city’s school chancellor that firmly puts him on the side of the parents of children applying for gifted and talented programs. The comptroller, a former president of the old Board of Education, told Chancellor Joel Klein that the city’s new policies are “counterproductive,” and he urged immediate remedies to what he termed the “disjointed” approach the Department of Education has taken in redesigning the popular program. (more…)

2nd March
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, March 2, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

When the history books are written, it will be noted that the beginning of the end of New York’s grand experiment with mayoral control of the schools came at 6:30 a.m. on January 29, 2007. It was then that the city’s school buses began to roll on new routes suggested by an extraordinarily expensive outside consultant, hand-picked without competitive bidding by the Department of Education.

In a certain sense it is a sad reflection of our times that the outrage over the direction of the schools came as a result of the peripheral issue of bus routes. That eighth-grade reading scores haven’t budged in eight years, a reflection of educational stagnation impacting tens of thousands of our students, doesn’t seem quite as compelling as one child waiting in the cold for a bus that never comes. (more…)