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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bronx News Roundup, Wednesday, June 1

Welcome to June, Bronxophiles. Here's today's lineup of Bronx news!

Weather: The National Weather Service is issuing a "hazardous weather outlook" warning, which could amount to nothing, or severe thunderstorms. After a high of 89 today, it's supposed to cool off tomorrow, down to a less stifling 76 degrees. 

Story of the Day: Education Leaps Should Be Taken with a Grain of Salt
Education guru Diane Ravitch writes an op-ed in today's NY Times dispelling the myth of huge short-term gains at schools that have been re-vamped/re-started/re-invigorated by some manner of policy or strategy shift. On the 10th anniversary of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which set a goal of having every child in the United States reading at or above their grade level by 2012, Ravitch says this "utopian mandate" is mission impossible. The public (and news media) should be wary of political attempts to show gigantic leaps in performance at urban schools who cater to traditionally low-performing students.

Which brings us to the Bronx. In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg trumpeted the success of his DOE takeover by holding a press conference at PS 33 on Jerome Avenue, just south of Fordham Road. The school boasted a ridiculous 49-point jump in its percentage of fourth graders who had met state standards in reading -- from 34 percent in 2004 to 83 percent in 2005. By 2010, that number was back down to 37 percent (where many Bronx schools are at).

Ravitch says we can close and re-open schools and/or fire teachers and principals as much as we want, but if we really want to improve education, we need to focus on improving families, "our most important educators." She goes on to say: "If every child arrived in school well-nourished, healthy and ready to learn, from a family with a stable home and a steady income, many of our educational problems would be solved. And that would be a miracle."

Quick Hits:
The two fledgling Bronx beer start-ups -- the Bronx Brewery and the Jonas Bronck's Beer Company -- are preparing to unleash their suds at city bars this summer (the Bronck's Woodlawn Weiss perhaps as early as next week). Neither company, however, will actually brew its beer in the Boogie Down.

Speaking of the nectar of the gods, the Bronx's first beer garden, Nicky's BBQ & Beer Garden, is scheduled to open this week on East Tremont Avenue. 

Here's an architecture review of the new Poe Park Visitor's Center, which is set to open soon (I guess, we'll look into it).

Last weekend's outbreak of gun violence makes this weekend's gun buyback effort that much more urgent.

The Times' Clyde Haberman writes that while the outbreak is unsettling, we're nowhere near the dark days of the early 1990s when the city's murder count was 2,245. For the last decade we've averaged 547 murders.

The city's Department of Small Business Services is going to focus on diversifying retail at four commercial districts, one of which will be Southern Boulevard. They want less nail salons, more food options. 

Rent reform advocates in the state senate, including Bronx Democrats Ruth Hassel-Thompson and Adriano Espaillat, are making a final push to strengthen rent regulations by the June 15 deadline.

Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr.'s outspoken efforts to keep gay marriage unlawful is leading to backlash from gay rights groups, websites and bars (one Brooklyn gay bar is hosting a "F--- Ruben Diaz festival") and, he says, has led to death threats being called into his district office.


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