Once again, New York State has proven that it is home to the
most scientifically gifted high school students in the country, and that those
students attend public, not private, schools. The 40 finalists have been
announced in the Intel Science Talent Search (formerly the Westinghouse Science
Talent Search), the nation’s most prestigious academic contest among high
school students, and 13 of them-32.5 percent-come from New York. The next closest
state was California, with four finalists. The schools with the most impressive
showing were Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and Byram Hills High School in
Armonk, N.Y., each of which produced three finalists.
Who are these students, who will now be competing for a
$100,000 college scholarship and the chance to join the ranks of previous
winners, among whom are five Nobel
laureates? Vinod Nambudiri, of Blind Brook High School, studied sleep
patterns in teenagers; Kimberly Kempadoo, of Ramapo Senior High School,
examined the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine on goldfish; Johanna
Waldman, of Roslyn High School, conducted experiments to monitor students’
cheating behavior; Eve Henry, of Byram Hills High School, did research on the
cancer-fighting properties of vegetables (watercress came out ahead of
broccoli); and David Khalil, of Great Neck North High School, studied how the
human brain functions when it perceives ambiguity (he also invented an alarm to
protect sleepwalkers). It was the rare finalist who was not also president of
his or her student body, editor of the yearbook, a member of a varsity sports
team and a skilled musician. Behind each finalist is a dedicated teacher,
which is a great testament to the quality of teaching in many New York schools.
In particular, the public schools have consistently shown that they know how to
nurture a creative scientific environment.
The Intel results also point to a troubling irony, however.
Only three of the New York finalists intend
to go to college in the state: Two plan to attend Columbia University,
and the third is looking toward Cornell. The rest will be spread out among
Harvard, Stanford, M.I.T., Princeton and Yale.
One should ask why, with the country’s most talented high school science
students, New York does not have a college or university that can keep them
here? Instead, we export our best and brightest, like basketball players, to
out-of-state universities. Perhaps one of the finalists will one day solve that
Mayor Giuliani, Arts
New York sealed its place as a world-class city more than a
century ago, when it wisely invested millions of dollars in the construction of
cultural facilities that remain the envy of the world.
Now, in the first year of the 21st century, the city is
about to embark on another era of forward-thinking cultural investment. Mayor
Rudolph Giuliani has proposed spending $1.2 billion over the next decade on the
city’s museums, libraries and arts organizations. In addition, the cultural
community will be given $1.5 billion in tax breaks over the next four years.
For many reasons, City Hall cannot treat art and culture
like afterthoughts. Museums, theaters, libraries and other cultural
organizations are part of the lifeblood of New York. Culture brings smart,
interesting people here, which contributes both to the city’s tax base and to
its intellectual base.
Among the institutions that will benefit are Lincoln Center,
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the Museum of
Modern Art and the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The Mayor clearly understands
that this is the time to make such
commitments. Money set aside today can’t be raided in the future, when
times may not be so good and Mayors so generous.
Of course, it helps that Mr. Giuliani is in the
legacy-polishing phase of his tenure. Like any public official with an eye on
history, he is looking to influence the opinion makers of the future.
With this plan, Rudolph Giuliani will leave a profound mark.
He already has made the city safer-indeed, the safest large city in the nation.
Now he will make it richer in culture and art. He has set a commendable
standard, which future Mayors will undo only at great cost to themselves and
As he steps down after eight years as chairman of the
Securities and Exchange Commission this month, Arthur Levitt will be recognized
not only as the longest-serving S.E.C. chairman ever, but also as one of that
rare breed of men and women who bring honor and dignity to public service.
The average American investor, who probably never knew Mr.
Levitt’s name, was the prime beneficiary of his superb work at the S.E.C. Mr.
Levitt had the guts, and know-how, to take on
Wall Street institutions such as the National Association of Securities
Dealers, the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange; firms
such as Lazard Frères and Merrill Lynch; and the United States Congress. His
reforms of Nasdaq brought billions of dollars to investors. His programs
influenced the exchanges, the accounting industry and the municipal-bond
market. “There were a lot in the industry who felt Arthur was too tough on
them,” Alan Blinder, an economist at Princeton University, told The New York Times. “But if people think he was too tough, look
at the markets. It’s been a fabulous period to be on Wall Street.”
Mr. Levitt’s dedication
to public service began when he became chairman of the American Stock Exchange
in 1977, after a successful career on Wall Street. He had an excellent role
model: His father, Arthur Levitt Sr., had an impeccable and unblemished record
as New York State Comptroller. Taken together, this father-son team compiled a
record of public service that equals or exceeds the better-known public
families of New York, such as Rockefeller and Wagner.
At a time when our elected officials often treat the public
trust with a terrible disregard, Arthur Levitt showed how a private man can
embark on a vigorous public career, make several lasting and deeply significant
changes, act at all times with uncommon decency, and leave his position larger
than he found it.