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Thursday, May 12, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

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Waiting for Superman? Survey after survey, conducted year after year, consistently proves one important point about public education. While most people are highly critical of schools as a whole, they love their own child’s school, no matter how bad it really is. Such is the case with the Kingsbridge Innovative Design Charter School (KIDCS) whose charter the State Education Department has recommended to be revoked by the State Board of Regents when they meet early next week. The quick demise will set a new record, since the school only opened its doors last September. Since the day classes began in a temporary facility, nothing has gone right for the school. For the nearly 150 kindergarten and first graders, it has been a wasted year, according to state inspectors. An extensive, scathing report summarizing the state’s investigation of the school has been issued, yet it isn’t surprising to learn that the parents they interviewed “expressed strong support of the school,” although the state suggested “it was unclear to the site visit team the means by which parents were selected to participate in interviews with SED staff.” Was the fix in? Probably not. By and large parents will ignore any disaster in their own children’s school, so long as the students were not harmed physically. The confidence of these parents, however, was not shared by the state investigators. They “observed that engagement and discipline were recurring challenges for several teachers. Students in several classes consistently demonstrated inattention to lessons and engaged in distracting behaviors with other students.” Because of the gravity of the situation the school was in, a life-ordeath process to decide the fate of the school – and the jobs of the teachers, what transpired was ominous. In several classes teachers seemed unable to control the children who were “noisily engaged in their own chosen independent activities… were engaged in the horseplay… without redirection from teachers.” That was when they were being watched and rated. Can you imagine what transpired when the heat wasn’t on? Actually the chaos at KIDCS comes as no surprise to us. When they first presented their plans nearly 2 years ago, it was clear that the entire enterprise was built on meaningless jargon centered around the arcane philosophy of social constructivism, one of a dozen such questionable ideas stitched together in a proposal that would’ve been comical had not the futures of scores of children been put at risk. How the state education department failed to pick up on this initially and granted the charter is beyond us. Ordinary people have a technical term for such blather and that is “wacky,” which is exactly how we characterized their plans back in the summer of 2009. The report of the state investigators, which alluded to “the school’s unique educational philosophy,” conceded that there was “limited evidence of these practices during classroom observations.” That’s probably good news. When officials of the school were recruiting children to fill the initial kindergarten and first grade classes, the founding principal (who was summarily fired shortly after the school year began), promised that students would not receive homework, nor wear uniforms since they might “get dirty” and that no classroom would have textbooks. Although it was promised that students would learn multiplication and division in the first grade, rather than in the third and fourth grades as at the conventional public schools, the state investigators found that by March no math curriculum had been put in place at all, and materials to teach part of the mathematics curriculum were just arriving even though the school year was two thirds over. Materials for a social studies program never arrived, and just one grade received the materials for the science program, which appears not to have commenced. A program to teach children a foreign language never got off the ground. The instructional program, as disastrous as it is, looks good when compared to the school’s dismal record in running its own Continued on Page 19

Did Assemblyman Dinowitz have his 1989 speeding ticket fixed? To The Editor: This current, major, police ticket-fixing scandal, which started in the Bronx and has expanded to include all five boroughs, brings to mind an incident that was written about in the Daily News, the N.Y. Post and the N.Y. Times regarding a ticket for speeding on the Henry Hudson Parkway given to (now) Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz on March 28, 1989 that was dismissed because the officer never showed up at Manhattan Traffic Court. Back then, Mr. Dinowitz was not only the local Male Democratic District Leader, his full time job was as an Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Motor Vehicles in the Bronx. At the time, I wrote several letters to the editor questioning the dismissal and asking questions such as: 1) How did the case get before that particular judge? 2) Did the judge and

Mr. Dinowitz know each other? 3) Has the judge dismissed all similar cases where the officer failed to appear for the first time? If not, why was an exception made for Mr. Dinowitz? 4) Mr. Dinowitz said he “lucked out.” Do defendants “luck out” in his court? Naturally, these questions fell on deaf ears. Now, however, current circumstances may possibly bring answers to those questions. In a recent N.Y. Times article, “Police union fights back over inquiry, calling ticket-fixing a courtesy” (April 20). Edward Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, is reported as calling on

Bx1 local bus service restored on Sedgwick Avenue

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz announced that the MTA has agreed to restore all local Bx1 bus stops west of Sedgwick and Dickinson Avenues, effective immediately. Many of these stops

ANDREW WOLF, Editor and Publisher

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current and retired members of the force, across all ranks, to come forward with testimony about the beneficiaries of ticketfixing. He said he expected to find evidence that politicians, prosecutors, business leaders, celebrities, etc. have been among those who have had tickets fixed. One of the ways in which tickets were fixed was to arrange to have the officer who issued the ticket not show up in court. Who knows, maybe if Sgt. Mullins investigates, we can find out if Jeffrey Dinowitz really “lucked out” — or were strings pulled on his behalf. Alvin Gordon

CECILIA McNALLY Office Manager MIAWLING LAM Associate Editor

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were eliminated when the MTA decided to implement ‘limitedstop’ service on the Bx1 line, cutting off bus service for too many residents. After Dinowitz complained to the MTA, the MTA agreed to restore service to these stops. The restored bus stops, all along Sedgwick Avenue, include two stops at the Amalgamated Houses that Dinowitz asked to be restored (at Dickinson Avenue and Hillman Avenue), and the stop in front of 3835 Sedgwick Avenue (already restored at Dinowitz’s request), plus other stops as well.

Riverdale Review, May 12, 2011  

Weekly newspaper published in Riverdale, NY 10471