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Friday, December 06, 2002
DC SCHOOL SNOWJOB

I love snow days. I could tell that I would be sledding instead of working yesterday. How could I tell? There was quite a bit of snow about. It started around midnight and was accumulating rather quickly.

Why do I bring this up? Because as much as I had promised myself I would lay off the school system for a little, they had to go and screw something up again.

Yesterday, every public and private school system in the area (including universities) canceled school. Except one. Guess which one. DCPS, of course. Worse yet, they said school was on until approximately the time all the students had arrived, and then canceled it. Not only did this anger parents, who had to double back or change their day's plans, it also exposed the students to exactly twice the danger that morning.

In
WaPo, DC City Council member pointed out that the ol switcheroo made the school system look "foolish" stating,

"In one fell swoop, they just associated themselves with 20 years of D.C. public schools making similar types of mistakes...It just looks so bad that all the other jurisdictions made quick, efficient decisions."

Superintendant Vance cited as reason for not canceling school his concern over the students being able to get a "hot and nutricious meal" if they stayed at home. So, in short, it is worth risking the possibility of a bus getting t-boned in slippery traffic as long as the kids get their salsbury steak. Lovely.

Best of all, he blamed the original bad call and the reversal on conflicting reports, espcially one that morning from the Maryland State Police, who (incidentally) did not issue a report that morning.

All Vance should have done is what I did and simply look out the window. But, as always, when faced with a decision, DCPS is prone to stall until it is too late or make the wrong decision. This time, they managed to do both.



posted by Jimmy 9:16 AM
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
AND NOW, FOR A VERY SPECIAL...

Skippy's got a
solid post on the way labor unions have undermined private contracts - through making non-compete agreements illegal in broadcasting. Frankly, if Barbara Harrison (of NBC 4) and I want to make an early show porn entitled "big son rising" on channel 7, it seems sensible that that channel 4 might want to have a contract that prevents this sort of thing. Now the DC council has ruled that the non-competes are illegal. Remind me to not invest in a channel that has secured a certain star in one of these arrangements.

Also, remind me to call Barbara Harrison.
posted by Jimmy 6:27 PM
IS YOUR BABY BEING ADEQUATELY TRACKED?

Another creepy item from
www.socialsecurity.gov : "Emily" and "Jacob" are the top two baby names for 2001. How do they know this? The magic of "Enumeration!"

An excerpt: "Enumeration at Birth offers parents an opportunity to request a Social Security number for their newborn as part of the birth registration process," Commissioner Barnhart said.
posted by Jimmy 7:21 AM
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING

I love this headline on the
Social Security website: "If you get monthly Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, COLA Means More Money for You!" A good subhead for people my age would be "If you don't get monthly Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, COLA Means Less Money for You!"

Two beefs with the headline:

1. It's more money. Well, technically it is. But in real dollars it isn't. So why isn't the FTC investigating the SSA for misleading advertising to seniors?

2. It's patently insulting to those of us who financing these increases by paying into the world's greatest generation wealth redistibution system. Especially to those of us who are young enough that these types of increases, while paltry, are still unlikely for us when we retire at the same time the system tanks.
posted by Jimmy 7:16 AM
TONIGHT WE'RE GONNA PARTY LIKE IT'S 2081

Dabbleblogger Jerry Brito shows an
insightful mean streak, lambasting the ADA's attack on stadium seating. Yeah, it sucks that people in wheelchairs can't do everything that the rest of us can do, but where does this madness end? Ramps to reach the high shelves in Barnes & Noble? Close-captioning for car radios? Mandates for braille nametags at swingers' clubs? If I'm agoraphobic, does that mean that Christina Aguilara should have to provide a personal concert for me? Please?

I don't mean to sound mean-sprited here. It's just that we can't possibly attempt to make everyone's life experiences the same. People in wheelchairs probably can't freeclimb an inverse-face cliff, due to their handicap. I can't freeclimb an inverse-face cliff because I would crap myself as soon as I was 7 feet up. But I don't see any reason why the ADA should insist that the owner of the cliff should be required to install an ADA-approved elevator to take either one of us to the top.

The only way that we could ever reach total equality in access is for the govt to foist a Harrison Bergeron-style equalization plan on all of us to reduce all of our abilities to the lowest common denominator. What scares me most is that it seems that the ADA would see that as a reasonable proposal.


posted by Jimmy 7:00 AM
DEFINING INSANITY

Tommy Wells of the DC School Board attempts to take Mr. Lartigue to task for his recent WaPo piece in a
letter to the editor. Casey adeptly responds.

The best part - Wells asserts that Casey offers "no remedy beyond "school choice" (read: private school vouchers) that at best would help a tiny fraction of D.C. students. Wells then goes on to offer no remedy beyond increased funding of "desperately needed dollars."

One of these remedies has been tried in the District and has failed. One of these remedies has been tried other places and succeeded. I still don't get why the DC school board won't give up on the long-term strategy of throwing more money at what Wells admits is a "broken school system" and start looking at structural changes to mend it.

The common theory is that the school board is a tool of the NEA and other teacher's unions. But I have to believe that at least some of the board members actually care about students - which makes me even more concerned, because that means that the people representing are either so change-averse that they are scared of progress or they just don't understand the concepts. And this is especially troubling because it's harder to change the culture of the board than to simply outspend the NEA.
posted by Jimmy 6:42 AM
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
BACK IN DC

After a blissful few days of absence from America's abcess, I'm back. And ready to start lancin'

posted by Jimmy 3:09 PM



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