News, Bad News:
There’s A Lot To Learn
NYS Court of Appeals, the State’s highest court, handed down a ruling
late last month that may do more for New York City public schools than
anything since the introduction of phonics.
the case, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. (CFE) sued New York State
asserting that every public school student is entitled to the opportunity
for a meaningful high school education. The CFE won the case in the lower
courts, but Governor Pataki insisted on testing the limit in the Appellate
Division. The move by the Governor was his most anti-NYC stance since
signing onto the commuter tax repeal — Speaker Shelly Silver deserves
the big credit for that one.
Court of Appeals ordered the State to implement major education funding
and accountability reforms to allow students in New York City schools to
meet this constitutional standard, clearly signing onto the position that
the State has shortchanged the kids of our City.
4-1 decision overturns a 2002 ruling that the State must only ensure that
students receive an eighth grade education, a decision that caused a fury
among parents, educators, and New Yorkers in every part of the state last
summer. The decision reinstates State Supreme Court Justice Leland
DeGrasse’s 2001 trial court ruling that all children are
constitutionally entitled to the opportunity for a “sound basic
education” that prepares them for capable citizenship, and that the
State’s current funding system fails to meet these requirements.
A. Rebell, the executive director of CFE and co-counsel in the case, said:
“The Court has declared in no uncertain terms that New York’s children
are more important than backroom politics. The Court joins the people of
New York in agreeing that all children should have a true educational
opportunity to succeed in the workplace and in life.”
Court said the State has one year to undertake a study to “ascertain the
actual cost of providing a sound basic education in New York City,” to
reform the State’s funding formula to ensure necessary resources, and to
implement a fair accountability system to ensure that students actually
receive that opportunity. It defined a “sound basic education” as one
that includes a meaningful high school education with the skills and
knowledge to “function productively as civic participants” in 21st
century society, including being capable and knowledgeable voters and
jurors able to sustain employment.
same week as the landmark ruling in favor of the Campaign For Fiscal
Equity and NYC school children, NYS Education Commissioner Richard Mills
threw out the June Math A Regents Exam because of a very low passage rate
on the part of New York students.
said: “Children are our first concern. We express that concern by
providing the very best education we can. Fair exams are part of that
education. This exam doesn’t seem fair. I think we made some mistakes
with this exam and it’s up to us to identify and correct them. This
situation is unacceptable and we are taking action now to protect the
children. That done, we will turn immediately to the most rigorous,
independent, public accounting of the test itself.”
in tossing the test, relies heavily on the fact that the success rate on
this exam was lower than the success rate on previous exams and
acknowledges he had little empirical evidence to do a complete analysis.
notes, “Finding that problem and fixing it will take time and study.
Students cannot wait while we do that, and they must not be penalized.”
and sophomores are required to take at least another year of math and they
can take a Regents exam again after another year of study or they may have
their test results adjusted after study of the current exam.
his credit, Mills intends to assemble an independent panel of
mathematicians, educators, testing experts and citizens to review all
information on this exam to determine what happened and why. Their work
will help prepare future Regents Math exams without the problems.
our State and our society have become test crazy as a means of evaluating
students, schools and educational programs.
wonder if the fear of New York being viewed as a State with a poor
educational program might have prompted a hasty decision for the
commissioner to fall back and punt.
wonder what is the message to the students who passed the June exam
because of hard work and academic skills.
wonder what is the message to those who failed the regents, were given a
“Get Out Of Jail Free” card and continued on their merry educational
I looked at the test and it doesn’t seem all that hard, but I wasn’t a
bad high school math student. Certainly there was opportunity to norm or
measure the test with some independent group before declaring it null and
are not criticizing the decision but the haste with which it was made. A
lot of students failed and we’d like to know why.
it doesn’t really matter.
just doesn’t seem to add up.
Do Not Call!
home phone doesn’t ring at dinnertime anymore.
endless barrage of evening, weekend, dinnertime and anytime phone calls of
telemarketers has faded into history much like the dial telephone.
explanation is simple.
years ago I registered for the New York State Consumer Protection Board
“Do Not Call” Telemarketing Sales Call Registry. And shortly
thereafter, the annoying, almost harassing stockbrokers disappeared. So
did most telemarketers.
not quite,” as I reported in this column on May 31, 2001. “Although,
you are protected from most high-pressure sales calls, there are
exceptions: charitable organizations, religious corporations, political
parties and committees (of course those legislators would give themselves
a free pass), companies with which you have a prior business relationship
. . .”
are, of course, the occasional violators, but the law offers a reporting
mechanism and strict penalties.
some telemarketing organizations got smart and called from outside New
worry not — The National Do Not Call Registry is here.
York will now adopt the National Do Not Call Registry and will share the
numbers in its State list with the national registry. New Yorkers who have
already registered with the State list do not need to re-register to have
the protections of both federal and state law.
this week, New Yorkers who have not registered with the State Do Not Call
program can register with the new National Do Not Call Registry.
Registration is free and applies to home and cell phones but not business
you register before August 31 the government promises you “will notice a
downturn in telemarketing calls starting Oct. 1, 2003.”
the old NYS system, the National Do Not Call Registry does not limit calls
by political organizations, charities or telephone surveyors.
of the National Do Not Call Registry are subject to a fine of up to
$11,000 per violation.
register log on to: www.donotcall.gov
or call toll free 1–888-382-1222.
a peaceful dinner!
they can no longer do to your home phone — if you register — they are
doing to your computer. And they are doing it in geometric proportions
because sending email is free.
has invaded our email boxes much worse than the annoying phone calls
invaded our homes.
noun: Junk e-mail; unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial
nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or
endless barrage of e-mails — like discount mortgages, penis enlargers
and Wendy’s collegiate web cam — can drive you crazy . . . well, two
out of three might.
(America Online), the nation’s largest internet service provider,
reports it blocks 2.3 billion spammed e-mails a day or about 24,000 per
member per year. The rate of blocked spam, according to AOL, is doubling
every eight weeks. But they certainly don’t get them all, as any online
junkie can attest.
is the first State in the nation to offer some serious relief. Two months
ago, Virginia Governor Mark Warner signed an anti-spam bill into law. The
law targets those responsible for sending the worst, most egregious and
fraudulent kinds of spam. The kinds of actions that can now trigger
penalties that include jail time, asset forfeiture, and fines, include:
forging e-mail header and routing information; sending huge volumes of
bulk e-mails; generating substantial monetary proceeds from spamming; and
employing a minor to be an affiliate in the spamming process.
war on spammers has just begun.
your legislators; tell them to do something about it.
E-mail them again . . .
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@queenspress.com