Bloomberg and Klein Keep Pushing Ahead
For as long as just about anybody can remember, New Yorkers who care about public education—that should be all of us—have complained about how our schools are being managed. Bloated bureaucracies and inflexible work rules came to be seen as enemies of learning and achievement.
That’s beginning to change. The abolition of the old Board of Education, the drive for smaller schools and the demand for real results have all contributed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s goal of improving public education. Now, New York is considering another revolutionary change: hiring private groups with public money to manage dozens of public schools.
New York ought to seize this opportunity to dismantle once and for all the discredited management of the past by embracing 21st-century innovation and creativity.
At the moment, private groups are managing nearly 200 small public schools through a program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That private funding, however, will expire in June in about 50 schools. The city is considering an idea to continue the private management by using public money as the Gates grants—which were never intended as a permanent funding source—expire.
Under the Gates program, private groups have been responsible for recruiting and hiring staff and teachers, among other management duties. As a result, these groups have accumulated valuable experience in the management of small public schools. One such group, the Urban Assembly, headed by Richard Kahan, wants even more management responsibility so that education bureaucrats cannot stand in the way of innovation.
Of course, many of the forces that prefer the status quo will oppose Schools Chancellor Joel Klein if he decides to go ahead with the private-management concept. These forces blocked an effort in 2001 to have the for-profit Edison Schools Inc. take over five unsuccessful schools in New York.
Edison, of course, became a lightning rod, in part because it is a profit-making company. Most of the groups involved in private education management, however, are nonprofits, like the Urban Assembly. Their interest, shared by the Mayor and the schools chancellor, is in revolutionizing the way that New York public education is managed.
The Gates foundation gave the city the means to experiment with private management. The city should take the next step and formalize the arrangement.
Let Gino’s Live!
At a time when even the heart of Manhattan is overrun by look-alike chains and franchise outlets, New Yorkers cling to those places that make this city unlike any other on the planet.
The legendary Gino restaurant on the Upper East Side (usually called Gino’s) is one of those places. Founded in 1945, it’s a throwback—the kind of place that can make Manhattan seem like a small town. At lunch and dinner, neighbors run into each other—or, in the best small-town tradition, avoid each other—over a Gino chopped salad or a plate of pasta.
All of this, and the restaurant itself, may come to an end at the end of this month. A contract with Gino’s unionized staff will expire on Oct. 31, and management says it will not sign a new one. The union has threatened to walk off the job, and if it does, well, it will be the end of Gino’s.
The union’s leaders have to come to their senses. It’s absurd to think that Gino’s, a 27-table restaurant, can continue to afford union demands. Pointless confrontation will result only in the loss of a Manhattan landmark.
Gino deserves to survive. The longevity of the staff there suggests that management has been generous and loyal. The union should keep that in mind as Oct. 31 approaches.
So Much for Commitment
It’s long been a feature of male-female romantic relations that men just can’t seem to commit. Countless books, magazines and TV shows have been devoted to the topic of how a woman can coax, lure, trick or force a fellow into a relationship built for two. The assumption is that once the man comes to his senses, he will realize that monogamy is the best route to fulfillment. Indeed, New York is filled with men who take great pride in having tamed their tomcatting ways, eased into a comfy domesticity through the efforts of a persistent woman and perhaps a few decades spent in therapy.
Fans of the monogamy model aren’t going to be thrilled, then, with a new report published in the journal Human Nature Review. According to a study done at Hamburg-Eppendorf University in Germany, once a man makes a solid commitment to a woman, her libido starts to wane. The researchers found that four years into a secure relationship, less than 50 percent of 30-year-old women still wanted regular sex, and after 20 years, only 20 percent reported still having a hankering for hanky-panky.
Meanwhile, the study found that male sex drive in a committed relationship remains generally consistent over the years. The psychologist behind the study, Dietrich Klusmann, speculates that the woman, having found a man with whom to have a child, starts decreasing her sexual availability to keep the man interested. Or, as an evolutionary psychologist told the BBC, the decline in the female sex drive may come down to “supply and demand. If something is in infinite supply, the perceived value would drop.” The comparatively steady sex drive of the male, on the other hand, may be intended to keep the woman sexually satisfied so that she won’t run off with another man. When it comes to tenderness, the news is equally tough: 90 percent of women in the study reported wanting tenderness no matter how long they’d been in the relationship, while only 25 percent of men in relationships of 10 years or longer still placed a premium on the T.L.C. factor. Their problem is, they just don’t know how to commit.