Posts Tagged ‘Department of Education’

16th November
2007

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

By Andrew Wolf

The sooner that the Department of Education abandons the idea that classes for gifted and talented children are some sort of civil rights program, the better off we will all be.

Two weeks ago, Chancellor Klein announced another restructuring of the city’s gifted and talented programs, the third such effort in as many years. What is the reason behind all of this attention? The quest for “equity.”

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19th October
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, October 19, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Anyone who harbors the notion that Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have just won a victory over the teachers’ union by gaining approval of a merit pay scheme had best look more closely. The plan announced on Tuesday was indeed a “slam dunk,” but not by the mayor and chancellor. It is the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, who leaves the bargaining table victorious. It may be a “historic” deal with national implications, but it is one that increases the power of the union.

At the center of most merit pay plans is the idea that individual performance should be rewarded. That is not part of this initiative. Rather it skews power to the group, each school becoming a sort of kibbutz, collectively governed, dividing the fruits of labor by committee. Even participation in the plan will be determined by a vote of the union members, 55% of whom will have to go along.

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3rd August
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, August 3, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

What are parents of at least six children from Riverdale to think about the process by which their five- and six-year-olds will be excluded from their local elementary school?

The sin of the six tots seems to be they’re smart enough to be called “gifted and talented,” but not quite smart enough. They had scores that qualified them for participation in the Department of Education’s new gifted and talented program but missed the cutline, a score of 354, that would have permitted them to participate in the gifted class at P.S. 24, their neighborhood elementary school. (more…)

29th June
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, June 29, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

The decision of the Supreme Court to bar race-based “voluntary” desegregation plans will have the powerful effect of supporting the concept of neighborhood schools.

This has important implications in New York City, where the Department of Education has structured its gifted and talented programs to foster “diversity” and “equity” through a busing program. (more…)

13th April
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, April 13, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

History repeated itself Monday when the mayor and Chancellor Klein released a list of 100 or so supporters of the latest version of his ever-changing educational reform. Rather than listen to their critics and perhaps modify their own position, they dug in and attempted to blunt that criticism with the club of a petition.

That’s what happened in 2003 after a group of eight prominent experts in the field of teaching reading wrote the chancellor that the strategy he selected, Month-by-Month Phonics, was not backed by scientifically validated research and would not pass the scrutiny of the federal government for funding under the Reading First program of No Child Left Behind. (more…)

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…)

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…)

26th January
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, January 26, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

If your child was mugged walking home from school, the first thing that I suspect you would tell him is to avoid taking the same route in the future. In recent years, New York’s schoolchildren have been mugged — intellectually, not physically — by many of our most notable researchers and academics. And the powers-that-be may be getting ready to do it again.

A new group, the Research Partnership for New York City Schools, is being formed to do “independent research” that would, among other things, evaluate the effectiveness of public school policy initiatives. It would have unprecedented access to data generated by the schools. It is modeled after a similar group that operates in Chicago. (more…)

8th December
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, December 8, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

If published accounts of the arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court are accurate, parents of “gifted and talented” students here in Gotham may have caught a much-needed break. From where I sit, the plan to assign students to these popular programs looks like the racial assignment scheme put in place in Seattle, a plan that newspapermen covering the case say looks doomed after the scrutiny of the nine justices on Monday.

Should the justices overturn or modify this plan and one in Louisville, Ky., New York City’s self-described effort to provide “equity” in the distribution of students to gifted and talented programs could become a casualty as well. (more…)

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