C'mon Mayor Bloomberg, Let's Stop and Frisk Some Test Scores

Just as NYC police found in most stop-and-frisk cases, when you analyze standardized test scores, there's nothing there.

I'd rather have a tall glass of "innocent until proven guilty," whether it's about my standing as a citizen in New York City or my students' test scores.

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We’ve designed our world to keep us from having to exert ourselves. We have escalators and elevators and moving sidewalks precisely because we don’t want to be forced to work out all the time. But combine these conveniences with the largely desk-bound life of the modern knowledge worker, and it starts to look like we may have erred in the other direction—engineering physical activity out of our lives.
A new nonprofit organization in New York City is trying to change that. The Center for Active Design, announced by Mayor Mike Bloomberg last week, is working with architects and designers to create urban spaces that encourage movement, community, and yes, maybe even a little light exercise by incorporating features like staircases, pedestrian paths, and secure bicycle storage. It’s an effort to combat obesity with architecture.
The percentage of obese Americans, defined as those with a body mass index of 30 or above, is on track to rise to 27.1 percent this year, up from 26.2 percent in 2012. In a Gallup poll released earlier this year, a lack of exercise was identified as the single most important lifestyle factor affecting obesity rates in America. In an indication of the seriousness of the situation, the American Medical Association recently voted to recognize obesity as a disease for the first time.
The good news is that evidence suggests that small design changes—something as small, even, as a sign pointing out the health benefits of taking the stairs—can influence how much physical activity people get. And studies show that even minimal regular exercise (a few flights of stairs every day counts) can have large health benefits.
The “Active Design strategies” endorsed by this new center try to make physical activity part of daily life. A building might have attractive, conveniently located stairs, such as the Via Verde affordable housing development in South Bronx, or landscape elements that inspire walking and jogging, such as the paths around the New York City Police Academy building in Queens.
The center breaks Active Design into four key concepts:\n
• Active buildings: encouraging greater physical movement within buildings for users and visitors;
• Active transportation: supporting a safe and vibrant environment for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders;
• Active recreation: shaping play and activity spaces for people of different ages, interests, and abilities; and
• Improving access to nutritious foods in communities that need them most.
According to a press release from the Mayor’s office, the center is currently working with New York City, as well as with cities elsewhere in the U.S. and in Canada, the U.K., and Brazil, on streets, buildings, and other public spaces.
This new center seems to be an extension of earlier work by the city’s Department of Design and Construction. Indeed, Bloomberg and New York City have been pushing for new ways to fight public health problems, from the controversial super-size soda ban to the new CitiBike system. As part of last week’s announcement, Bloomberg also issued a new executive order requiring all new major public developments or renovations to follow active design principles.
In that context, some people will surely think about this new center as just another manifestation of Bloomberg’s “nanny state.” But the practical benefits are healthier citizens and less public and private money spent addressing the myriad preventable problems that come with obesity.
And it’s no accident that active design principles often result in spaces that are especially beautiful and popular. Think the Renzo Piano-designed New York Times building, with its extensive indoor staircases, the central atrium of Thom Mayne’s Cooper Union building, or the High Line park, with its extensive pedestrian-oriented landscaping.
Start taking ownership of your health with our DIY Health Check-up.\n

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Billionaire Bloomberg Wants 'So-So' Students to Skip College and Become Plumbers

Sure, become a plumber if that's something you're passionate about, but in the 21st century, we're not cogs in the machine.

President Obama may have the goal of America having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, but in New York City, that idea's sprung a leak. According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg if you're not at the top of your class you should probably forego higher education in favor of becoming a plumber. Indeed, the New York Daily News reports that last Friday on his radio show Bloomberg added fuel to the "Is a college degree worth it?" debate by saying that for the average student, becoming a plumber makes more financial sense than going to college.

A plumber doesn't waste "four years spending $40,000, $50,000 in tuition without earning income," said Bloomberg. They also don't leave school with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and can make a pretty good living while they're on the job. Added bonus: your job as a plumber (or car mechanic, or electrician) can't be outsourced.

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Actually, Mayor Bloomberg, It's Getting Worse in New York City

Contrary to Mayor Bloomberg's new video, new crime statistics say New York City is getting worse for homosexuals, not better.


Earlier today, my colleague Morgan posted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's addition to the It Gets Better video project for LGBT youth. While Bloomberg's efforts to improve the lives of gay and lesbian children should be commended, one of his main points—that New York City is especially welcoming of minorities—actually flies directly in the face of new crime data. The fact is that hate crimes are up in New York, especially against homosexuals.

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