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Middle-Income Students Show No Improvement on Test Scores Under Bloomberg (NY Daily News)
Rachel Monahan reports: “While Mayor Bloomberg has touted gains for the poorest students, middle-income kids’ test scores have failed to improve during his administration. Eighth-grade reading scores for this group dropped dramatically compared to their peers in other large cities between 2003 and 2011. Middle-income students’ average test scores in fourth-grade reading and in fourth- and eighth-grade math showed no significant gains, even while nationwide scores trended up.”

Queens Broker Edul Ahmad Accused of Bringing Immigrants’ Ruin (NYT)
Adam B. Ellick reports: “Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Mr. Ahmad, charging him with masterminding a $50 million mortgage fraud that seemed to exemplify a nationwide phenomenon of celebrated immigrant brokers who were accused of preying on their own. Now, scores, if not hundreds, of Guyanese immigrants are facing financial ruin because of loans said to have been arranged by Mr. Ahmad, and the repercussions from the case have extended from Queens to Washington to Guyana.”

City Restaurants Avoid Letter Grades As ‘Supermarkets’ (NY Daily News)
Reuven Blau and Simone Weichselbaum report: “Scores of city restaurants with expansive menus and sitdown service are escaping scrutiny by registering with the state as supermarkets or wholesalers, the Daily News has learned. The list of full-blown eateries too cool for school includes popular pizzerias in Brooklyn, a bagel store in Manhattan and a Dunkin’ Donuts in Queens.”

Manhattan Borough President Still Aiming High (NYT)
David Chen reports: “For those who think that Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, wants to play it safe by running for re-election, or perhaps for comptroller, rather than for mayor, consider this: he has just persuaded prominent national Democrats to join his 2013 campaign.”

Christie Pledges School Aid Battle (WSJ)
Heather Haddon reports: “Gov. Chris Christie plans a new challenge to a court-ordered state education funding formula that has provided billions of dollars in extra funding to poverty-stricken schools within the so-called Abbott districts. While he didn't discuss specifics of how he would continue the fight, Mr. Christie said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he would nominate two state Supreme Court judges this spring who won't "grossly" overstep their powers—as he argues the court has by ordering more school funding.”

N.J. Democrats Hope to Pass Same-Sex Marriage Bill (Star-Ledger)
The Star-Ledger staff reports: “With Democrats poised to introduced gay marriage legislation as the first bill of the upcoming legislative session, advocates say the chances of passage have improved since a no-vote two years ago — thanks to changes not only in Trenton, but in Albany, N.Y.”

Long-Shot Bid Boosted By Liberals (WSJ)
Michael Howard Saul reports: “The Liberal Party—which built outsized influence by helping into office political giants such as John Lindsay and Rudolph Giuliani before spiraling into irrelevance in the past decade—is staking its rebirth on a political neophyte. The party plans on Tuesday to select the Manhattan media executive, Tom Allon, as its 2013 New York City mayoral candidate.”

King Carl of Canarsie (NY Magazine)
Geoffrey Gray reports on the Carl Kruger saga, with the magazine summing up the piece this way: “The gothic saga of Brooklyn power broker Carl Kruger, a state senator who loved a gynecologist and his family so much he was willing to sell his influence for them.”

City Will Reopen House of Detention Next Month (Brooklyn Paper)
Kate Briquelet reports: “In February, the resurrected pen near Smith Street will begin housing pre-trial detainees from Brooklyn and Staten Island, and inmates serving sentences of a year or less. Neighbors aren’t looking forward to it — especially those who recall when their block housed a cellblock.”

Good Samaritan Critically Injured Rescuing Drunk Man From Subway Tracks (NY Daily News)
Barry Paddock and Joaquim Andrade report: “The drunk somehow avoided being hit, but Steven Santiago was taken to Staten Island University Hospital North in critical condition after the train slammed into his head, police said. The drunk was being treated at the same hospital for minor injuries, an MTA spokesman said.”

Rucker Park, Home to NBA & Street Ball Stars Could Become Landmark (DNAinfo)
Jeff Mays reports: “Legends have long played at Rucker Park, from Dr. J to Kobe Bryant, and its legacy as Manhattan's epicenter of hoops continues to grow. NBA star Kevin Durant dropped 66 points at the Entertainer's Basketball Classic this past summer sending the crowd at 155th Street and Frederic Douglass Boulevard into a joyous frenzy.”

New Parents Fuming About Beyonce Baby Lockdown (NY Post)
Rebecca Rosenberg, Amber Sutherland and Jeane MacIntosh report:”Pushy parents Beyoncé and Jay-Z installed bulletproof glass and burly bodyguards at the Upper East Side hospital where their diva daughter was just born — and even booted worried moms and dads out of the neonatal intensive-care unit.
The fuming other parents at Lenox Hill Hospital said they were essentially put on “lockdown” so that the pampered songstress and her party could come and go as they pleased.”

NJEA Support for Urban Hope Act Displays Weakness, Cynicism (The Star-Ledger)
Columnist Bob Braun writes about the New Jersey Education Association’s flip-flop on a bill that would allow private companies to use public money to build and operate public schools: “The union’s flip-flop shatters the unity of a coalition that has consistently opposed the Christie administration’s efforts to bring privatization to public education. It left spokesmen for some of those groups literally speechless. ‘You have to ask the union about that,’’ said David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center. Sciarra continues to oppose the bill, likely to be passed today, the last day of the legislative session.”

Editorial: Andrew’s Bad Bet (NY Post)
The Post editorial board criticizes Governor Cuomo’s casino plan for its lack of public vetting or competitive bidding. (It’s practically a done deal): “Fact is, Cuomo’s very premise — that gambling deserves support because of its economic potential and the tax revenues it can gin up — is deeply flawed.”

Just the Ticket (NYT)
Bill Keller makes the case for Hillary Clinton to replace Joe Biden as President Obama’s running mate in 2012:: “One: it does more to guarantee Obama’s re-election than anything else the Democrats can do. Two: it improves the chances that, come next January, he will not be a lame duck with a gridlocked Congress but a rejuvenated president with a mandate and a Congress that may be a little less forbidding. Three: it makes Hillary the party’s heir apparent in 2016.“