Posts Tagged ‘fuzzy math’

1st November
2008

First Published on the Public Advocate’s Corner October 29, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Shortly after I began writing a regular column for The New York Sun six-and-a-half years ago, the mayor was given control of the New York City public schools. During that period I have written around two hundred columns on the schools, most of which discuss various aspects of mayoral control.

I am by nature a skeptical fellow, and the story of the educational “reform” that has taken place since then has given me much to be skeptical about. Unfortunately, last month the Sun published its final issue, so now is as good a time as any to reflect on this remarkable story that I have followed since the beginning.

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3rd March
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, March 3, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Immigrant children outperform some native-born children in New York schools, my colleague Sarah Garland reported the other day. Indeed, it seems the longer newly-arrived children attend our schools, the worse they do. These conclusions come from a new study, “Do Immigrants Differ From Migrants?”

“The foreign born are whizzing by the native born at every level,” one of the researchers, Amy Ellen Schwartz, said.

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18th January
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, January 18, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Nothing will grab a headline faster than rating schools with a letter grade. We saw it here in New York City when the Department of Education recently assigned grades to all of its schools. Last week, the national trade newspaper, Education Week, released its “grades” for each of the 50 states. Astoundingly, on the top of the list with a composite total grade of “B” in this “Quality Counts” evaluation, is the State of New York.

A closer examination of these results clarified the situation. Education Week used a weighted average of six components to arrive at their final grade. Only one of these components has to do with academic results, the one labeled “K-12 Achievement.” The rest of the components basically fall into the category of evaluating state education policy for good intentions, measured by such things as how much money is spent on their schools, and whether it is spent in an “equitable” way.

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7th December
2007

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

By Andrew Wolf

It isn’t often that I hear the name of my old junior high school on the radio, but on Wednesday morning I was greeted by the news of its impending demise.

Despite test scores that, while not stellar, were not even near the bottom of the pack, Chancellor Klein announced that P.S. 79 is being “closed.” Closing is less drastic than one would think. Most of the educators will keep their jobs. What will change is the number of the school or schools that will reside in this venerable old building.

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9th February
2007

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

By Andrew Wolf

W. Stephen Wilson teaches mathematics at Mayor Bloomberg ’s alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. Last fall he conducted an experiment on the students in his Calculus I course.

Professor Wilson administered the same final exam to last fall’s students that he used for the same course in the fall of 1989. He chose that year because he was able to obtain data for both his exam and the SAT math scores for both cohorts of students. (more…)

1st February
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, February 1, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

The Boston mayor, Thomas Menino, is fuming and with good reason. Four months ago, he proudly introduced Manuel Rivera as Beantown’s new superintendent of schools, to start work July 1 of this year. Hiring Mr. Rivera seemed like a tremendous coup and was treated as such by the Boston press and civic groups.

Mr. Rivera has been the superintendent of schools in upstate Rochester and was named Superintendent of the Year for 2006 by the American Association of School Administrators. (more…)

19th January
2007

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

By Andrew Wolf

With much fanfare four years ago, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled his plans to revamp the school system that he had been given control of six months earlier. Today, he is scrapping virtually all of those plans in what to me appears to be a “Hail Mary” pass to get back into a game that appears lost. If this were Iraq, call it a “surge.”

When the mayor was given control of the schools five years ago, it was because there was a sense of lack of control and direction coming out of the old Board of Education. There’d been a revolving door in the chancellor’s office during the old system’s final years. Alvarado, Quinones, Green, Fernandez, Cortines, Crew, Levy. Only one of these gentlemen left on his own accord, another died, and the others left in less than cordial circumstances. (more…)

22nd December
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, December 22, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

To much fanfare, recently a group that you probably never heard of, the National Center on Education and the Economy, issued a study titled “Tough Choices, Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce,” so named, presumably, so you don’t confuse it with the long-forgotten work of the “old” commission.

Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein, himself a member of this “new” commission, were set to fly down to Washington for the press conference until bad weather cancelled their flight. Yet just a week later, the report seems to have already faded into irrelevance, joining hundreds of other tomes gathering dust. Maybe we should stop issuing reports and start applying some common sense to fixing our schools. (more…)

15th September
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, September 15, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

In a change of heart, it appears that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the group which has spent the better part of two decades promoting what has become known as “fuzzy math,” has done a 180 degree turnaround. Now, once again, they embrace more traditional instruction.

This was reported on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday and represents good news for America’s ability to compete in world markets. (more…)

6th September
2002

First Published in The New York Sun,  September 6, 2002
By Andrew Wolf

I was pleased to hear from schools chancellor Joel Klein this week thanking me for sending him a copy of professor E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s book, “The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them.” He reports that he read it and “found it to be helpful.”  Unfortunately, before he read it he hired as his chief educator former Providence, R.I. schools superintendent Diana Lam, who, early evidence suggests, faces 180 degrees from Mr. Hirsch. Now all I can suggest is that he lend the book to Ms. Lam.

This book would make better reading than the National Education Association’s self-flagellating curriculum for 9/11, a document that reflects the “progressive” philosophy that dominates the educational establishment. I suspect that this missive would be more to Ms. Lam’s liking. (more…)

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