Today’s news:

Mazel Tov, Jacob

TimesLedger Newspapers

A son of Forest Hills has been appointed to one of the most important positions in the Obama administration.

Jacob Lew has been named the president’s chief of staff. Unlike much of the current administration, Lew is capable of working with leaders on both sides of the aisle.

In this heated election year, he was chosen because of his ability to deal with hostile Republicans who are determined to block any legislation the president puts forth. And if that fails, he is also an expert on using the president’s executive powers to advance an agenda without lawmakers’ support.

Lew replaces William M. Daley, who replaced Rahm Emanuel, a Capitol Hill deal-maker who left to become mayor of Chicago.

Lew, an orthodox Jew, keeps kosher and observes the sabbath. Between sundown Friday and Saturday he will not drive his car, use electricity or work with his BlackBerry. An aide said he can walk to the White House to offer counsel.

To assist the president in getting anything accomplished between now and Nov. 6, Lew will need the wisdom of Solomon. As the director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, he established a reputation as a calm and level-headed administrator.

Lew is facing a monumental challenge. The nation remains in the grip of an economic crisis. Too many people are out of work. Too many families have lost or are about to lose their homes. The nation cannot wait until after Election Day to begin dealing with these problems.

We wish Lew success.

Do Not Blame the Teachers

In his State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made education reform the cornerstone of his administration’s final two years.

Bloomberg has proposed a plan in which the city would overhaul 33 of the worst-performing schools, which are eligible for federal funding. He would also remove 1,500 teachers and raise the salary of the best teachers by $20,000.

But this cannot happen unless the teachers union and the city agree on a method for evaluating teachers.

We are in favor of raising the salaries of the best teachers, but the union must be part of any move to change the system.

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