To the editor:
Edward L. Glaeser responds:
The Census is the standard source for housing values in cities, not the National Association of Realtors, and for good reason. The NAR gives the price of average sales during a particular (recent) time period. It does not give the sales price for an average existing home in a region. Recent home sales figures tend to represent newer and much more expensive homes. In an older city, the NAR data are extremely unrepresentative of the overall housing population. Few experts would actually use them to look at overall housing costs.
The Census data have their own problems. They represent a self-reported housing value, not a sales price. Research suggests that these self-reports tend to overstate actual housing prices, which suggests that the $61,000 figure overstates the true sales prices.
Jews and Israel
To the editor:
My criticisms of Israel are consistent with those made by English intellectuals, as enumerated by Phillips: its illegal settlements in the West Bank, its apartheid treatment of Palestinians, its ignoring of numerous UN resolutions, its cruel use of cluster bombs against civilians in Lebanon, and its construction of a dividing wall between itself and the West Bankgenerally usurping Palestinian land in doing so and often making normal intercourse for the people living nearby impossible. Furthermore, I resent that over $100 billion of American taxpayers money has been donated to Israel in the form of economic aid over the last 25 years, even though Israels standard of living is light years above the countries of Africa, where we give small change. I oppose donating another $30 billion of arms to Israel over the next ten years.
Despite my strong condemnation of the state of Israel, I highly esteem the members of the Jewish faith, who have contributed greatly to society almost everywhere.
Melanie Phillips responds:
To the editor:
Sterns claim that the department does not provide transparent information about school performance is demonstrably false. Just in the last few months, we released the results of the first annual survey of public school parents, teachers, and students, as well as the first-ever school Progress Reports, giving the public more and clearer information than theyve ever had about how schools are performing.
Stern goes on to demand an independent research agency to evaluate the departments policies without mentioning that the chancellor committed long ago to creating one. It launched in October.
Stern also attempts to trivialize the gains New York Citys students have made in recent years. But the facts speak for themselves: since the mayor took control of the schools, whether you begin counting in 2002 or 2003, New York Citys gains have substantially outpaced those of the rest of the state in both fourth and eighth grade, the two grades for which we can make such comparisons over time. And following years of stagnation, the graduation rate has risen nine points since 2002 and seven points since 2003.
While Stern is entitled to his own opinions on each of these issues, he is not entitled to his own facts.
Sol Stern responds:
Its misleading for Cantor to keep harping on the state test scores, when the 2007 National Assessment of Education Progress results demolished the DOEs boasts about improvement in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and eighth-grade math.
Im impressed that the DOE asks parents and teachers about their schools. I would be more impressed if they asked whether the school system had actually improved as a result of mayoral control.
Finally, the chancellors research organization has nothing to do with the state-funded independent research agency I called for in my article. How could the chancellors outfit be independent if he sits on the board?