Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

G** D*** the Washington Post's editorial page: school reform edition

Today's G** D*** Washington Post has an editorial, "D.C.’s charter school success," about the "success" of charter school reform as a demonstration of the possibilities that abound in improving urban education.

I agree.

But the editorial ends with this sentence:

Such achievement should be a rebuke to those who would use family income or troubled surroundings as excuse for why students cannot learn.

That's not an argument that's made, ever, by anyone with sense and involvement in these issues.

In argumentative writing, it's called a straw man argument. It's illogical.

We argue that poverty can't be ignored and must be addressed, when dealing with urban education generally, and with urban education "reform" specifically.

For the most part, the Rhee agenda said that poverty was an excuse for not teachers not trying.

That's bullshit. That isn't the problem. It's the failure to build the right kind of educational development and support system to address the issues that derive from systemic poverty. Which Rhee didn't do.

Two wrongs: a f***** school system (see among others for insight into this, Black Social Capital: The Politics of School Reform in Baltimore, 1986-1998 by Marion Orr) and a f***** approach to "reform" by Michelle Rhee; don't make a right.

The Post is increasingly frustrating. (1) decreasing focus on local affairs; (2) more fluff in the paper--graphics instead of articles and articles that no one should care about (who cares about Berlusconi vs. Murdoch in Italy--even I don't care and I read just about every story on "media" that they publish--at least why put it in the Style section and not the business pages? (3) and an editorial page that is more and more like the Wall Street Journal's, really conservative, not focused on systems failure, but a collection of random ideologies cobbled into what they think is a program. (Also see last week's ombudsperson's column, "A paper for the people.")

I love newspapers. I read the Post, the Washington Times, (and yes, the Examiner, the Express, and the Gazette newspapers), the Baltimore Sun, the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal, and others online. But I wish we had a more competitive newspaper market in the city, because the Post has clearly declined in a manner that lets me down personally, and in a manner that negatively impacts civil society in the city and region.

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