Patty Dineen

The view from here

Posts Tagged ‘Washington

After the Snow: How will we know when Washington, DC starts up again?

So.  We who live in the mid-atlantic are bracing for another large snow storm.  Snow shovels are sold out (I couldn’t even find one in stock on Amazon), and hardware stores are putting piles of water softener salt near the front of the store for people to use on sidewalks and steps.  The TV pundits (in an amazing and fleeting display of nonpartisan and unbiased commentary) are all concurring in saying that Washington, DC was, and still pretty much is, shut down with the two feet of snow they got.  More is on the way, and so they are fretting that DC will be shut down even longer while they dig out yet again.

But how, I wonder, will we be able to tell when Washington starts up again?  I haven’t noticed much getting done there for quite some time.  A very, very long time in fact.  So here’s a modest proposal.  Maybe it would be a kindness to us all if DC would stay snowed in until about, oh, maybe the Fourth of July.  That would be a nice patriotic time to start up again.  And maybe a few months of isolation during which to reflect, do some stretching exercises,  and examine and re-order their priorities would give them (and us all, for God’s sake) a breather and a fresh sense of possibility.  I know I could use a break from hearing about how little they are getting done…I can only imagine how exhausting it must be for them- there in the thick of all that lack-of-progress.  It must be mind-numbing.

So let’s let DC save some money, give the road crews and public transportation employees a nice long vacation, and let the snow fall where and as deep as it may.  Let’s let it stay on the ground until the sun stays out long enough to melt it (as God probably intended anyway).  And if the snow eventually buries the city completely?  Let’s reconvene (online) at that point and talk about picking a new location to be our capitol so we can start over from scratch.  There now. Well I don’t know about you, but as the snow begins falling here, again, I am feeling almost…yes, definitely…hopeful.

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Written by dineenp

February 9, 2010 at 6:31 pm

The audacity of hoping Barack Obama would send his children to public schools

The public school system — even with all its problems– remains a shining example of something our country did spectacularly right in its formative years.  Innovative and daring, the idea of providing publicly-financed education for all children became a reality because there was the political will to make it happen.  It may be the single thing that bears the most responsibility for making this country great.

President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle have chosen not to send their two young children to public schools, but rather have enrolled them in the expensive, elite, private Sidwell Friends School located in the Washington, DC area. 

Sending their children to a public Washington, DC school would have conveyed an incredibly powerful message to the country, not to mention to public school students, their families, teachers and administrators, about belief in the importance and effectiveness of public education– and belief in hope and change.  It would have demonstrated in unequivocal terms that public schools can be safe, secure, and effective — can be good places to be for anyone, even the children of the President of the United States — especially the children of the President of the United States.  Talking about the importance of public education but then choosing otherwise for your own children speaks loudly indeed.  This message will not be lost on the country.

Arguments citing concerns about security, quality of education, and safety to rationalize the choice of a private school for the President’s children are hollow and disingenuous.  It is true that many of the public schools in the Washington, DC area are not providing a good education, but there are some that are.  Chancellor of DC public schools, Michelle Rhee’s two children attend public school.  Rhee invited the Obamas to consider DC public schools in their school search but the Obamas reportedly visited only private schools.

Safety and security are certainly huge factors, and it might be easier to secure a private school adequately for the children of the President, but the Secret Service can secure many kinds of settings and the extra effort of securing a public school would be well worth the gains that would ensue.  In one fell swoop it would greatly enhance the safety and security of an entire school’s population of students and teachers; showcase the educational possibilities of public schools; and motivate and reinvigorate an entire school district’s worth of students, teachers, administrators and parents in a way that nothing else could do.  Now that would be change we could believe in.

Written by dineenp

January 5, 2009 at 6:52 pm