Caroline Kennedy: Class Act for City Schools

With all the talk recently of rebuilding New York, with the necessary focus on the redevelopment of downtown, one might forget that the real future of the city depends mostly upon Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s success-or failure-at rebuilding the system of public education. If New York’s 1.1 million public schoolchildren continue to endure lackluster teachers, corrupt superintendents and crumbling buildings, then whatever brilliant and shining solution is found to rebuilding Ground Zero, as well as whatever worthy urban innovations emanate from City Hall over the next several years, will in large measure be an exercise in vanity. Without effective public education-the kind that makes parents happy to send their kids off each morning to a public school-New York will never be in the clear.

Which is why Caroline Kennedy’s appointment last week as the public-school system’s chief fund-raiser is great news for New York. Mr. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Stein deserve high points for this brilliant move. The city’s education system is profoundly bereft of cash and good ideas; private resources can bring both to the table. As chief executive of the newly created Office of Strategic Partnerships, Ms. Kennedy will oversee fund-raising from individuals and corporations, as well as coordinate mentoring and tutoring programs. Currently, about $100 million in donations are made to the school system each year, according to The New York Times , but that’s just a drop in the bucket of the Department of Education’s $12 billion budget. Mr. Stein said he hopes Ms. Kennedy will be able to increase the $100 million significantly, and it would be difficult to find someone more suited to integrating the private and public sectors. With her personal grace and intelligence and her family’s place in New Yorkers’ hearts, Ms. Kennedy will command attention and respect. She is uniquely qualified to explain to cash-flush individuals and corporations that a donation to public education is perhaps the most direct way to give something back to a city which has been good to them. And is there anyone in town who wouldn’t take her call?

Ms. Kennedy won’t have any trouble proving that private donations can transform public education-she need only point to organizations like the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, a privately funded group which helps middle-school students in Harlem and Washington Heights prepare for admission to selective public high schools like Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science. Eighty-one percent of HEAF students gain admission to such schools.

So the proof is there. And with Ms. Kennedy on their side, the city’s public schoolchildren couldn’t have a better ally.

The Demise of the Yankees

The Yankees have been so superb for so long that it’s hard to come to terms with their early and unexpected elimination from this year’s American League playoffs. The team with the highest payroll in baseball, the team with the most experience in postseason play, with legit Hall of Famers in the infield, in the outfield and on the mound, was unceremoniously drubbed by a team-the Anaheim Angels-with few stars. The Angels were a wild-card team, meaning they didn’t even win their division. No wonder Yankee fans were looking ahead to another World Series appearance.

But it won’t happen. The Angels and another unlikely champion, the Twins, will battle each other in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees have been dethroned as A.L. champs after four straight World Series appearances.

Already, second-guessers are demanding that the team be rebuilt. You’d think the Yankees had just finished a miserable season, like, say, the Mets. In fact, 2002 was yet another glorious year for Joe Torre’s memorable crew. The Yanks simply ran into a spirited, young Angels team. It goes to show that money isn’t everything in baseball. Yankees-haters say that George Steinbrenner’s shrewd cable-television deals and other revenue streams make it impossible for teams from smaller markets to compete. The Angels play in the shadows of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and don’t have the Yankees’ financial muscle. But they showed that in a short series, George Steinbrenner’s wealth guarantees nothing.

Some will say that the Yankees’ loss is good for baseball, that fans will be glad to root for new faces in the World Series. We’ll see about that. Our guess is that fans will miss watching the sublime talents of Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Roger Clemens as they meshed with newcomers like Jason Giambi.

Well, like us, they’ll have to wait until next year.

Stray Cats and Jealousy

When it comes to a mate’s straying, are men and women wired the same? According to evolutionary psychologists, the answer would be no. As noted in The Wall Street Journal , studies done in the 1990’s concluded that men get more outraged by sexual infidelity, while women get more jealous over emotional infidelity. This could all be explained by humans’ early history, when each person did everything he or she could to create robust descendants. Under this theory, a woman needs a man’s emotional commitment, because if he doesn’t stick around and bring home food and supplies, her kids won’t survive. So if he wants to sleep around, fine, as long as he knows where his true bed is. Meanwhile, men were more concerned with sexual commitment -if a woman slept around, he would have to wait nine months for another chance at continuing his bloodline. As long as the woman was sexually faithful, he didn’t care if she was pouring her heart out to the guy in the next cave. Ain’t love grand?

But a new study, to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, indicates that sexual infidelity, not emotional infidelity, ranks as the No. 1 cause of jealousy for women, too. But hold on a second. The researchers suspect that what’s really happening is more of the same: that if her man strays sexually, a woman-using her own inner life as a guide-assumes that he’s also strayed emotionally. And so her ancient fears are re-awakened. The new study sheds some light on men, too: They do care about emotional straying; it’s just that if a woman is sexually unfaithful, the men assume she’s already being emotionally unfaithful. Otherwise, why in the world would she ever get into another man’s bed?

If you think the above suggests that relationships between men and women haven’t budged an inch since the Ice Age-you’d be right.

Caroline Kennedy: Class Act for City Schools