Washington Metro News

Washington Metro News

The Death of Common Sense

On the front page of The Washington Post today came this story: “In his seven years, Randy Castro has been an aspiring soccer player, an accomplished Lego architect and a Royal Ranger at his Pentecostal church. He also, according to his elementary school record, sexually harassed a first-grade classmate.”

The story went on to say, “During recess at his Woodbridge school one day in November, when he was 6, he said, he smacked the classmate's bottom. The girl told the teacher. The teacher took Randy to the principal, who told him such behavior was inappropriate. School officials wrote an incident report calling it ‘Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive,’ which will remain on his student record permanently. Then, as Randy sat in the principal's office, they called the police.”

So this is what we have become as a society. Calling the police on a 6-year-old boy when he smacks a girl on the rear end.

And people wonder why our schools are in such trouble.

Play Ball or Educate Students?

Across the nation, the dropout rates for high school students are appallingly high.

Here in the District of Columbia, where schools are being closed throughout the city, more than 40 percent of our students drop out, an inexcusable number in the capital of our nation in 2008.

I've been a baseball fan all my life, was a student athlete in school, and in fact I was once offered a tryout for the Dodgers at third base (though I told the scout he caught me on a good day, and I'd last an hour in spring training!).

As predisposed towards sports as I am, I think it's outrageous and ridiculous that the powers-that-be of our community rally like the 101st Airborne at Normandy to build a high-priced new baseball stadium, while schools are being closed and more than 40 percent of our kids don’t graduate.

Baseball is Back!

All politics is local, as the old saying goes. So let’s take a look at the biggest local political news this week — and apply it to our larger election at stake.

Two weeks ago I penned a column about the return of baseball to Washington — the “real” return, now that Nationals Park opened on Sunday night. The new ballpark was a triumph by all accounts. Traffic less than feared, the stadium a hit with fans, Metrorail flowing well and, best of all, the Nationals won.

Lest anyone forget, it was a bold political stroke that made it possible — a smart move by former D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who had the foresight to realize that Washington thirsted for baseball, longed for it. And the new ballpark served as the capstone for his vision.

A Kid-Centric System

In my last blog about D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, I said she was tough. But Rhee’s character is too complex to fit a one-word label. Tough, yes, but without being abrasive, and while displaying confidence without hubris. That’s a pretty amazing combination. Tough without being abrasive: confident without hubris. Remember it, sports fans.

When she spoke at my Institute for Education (IFE) INFO Public Policy Roundtable group last week, Rhee enlightened us about how she’s reinventing D.C. schools, starting from square one.

Chancellor Michelle Rhee, Fearless in Her Challenge

Michelle Rhee is tough. That’s a good thing, because the mountain she’s climbing is steep and rugged. And the mountain has been entrenched, as mountains are, a very long time. Michelle’s mountains are a school system bureaucracy that has no interest in its product: the children.

For anyone who’s been sleeping through the past eight months, Rhee is the District’s new education chancellor — recruited by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty to reform the city’s ailing school system that’s been broken and an embarrassment to our capital city.

Mourning Sean Taylor

Armstrong Williams remembers Sean Taylor and asks when we will finally show outrage at the number ofyoung black men senselessly killed.


Is District Statehood One Step Closer?

As early as next week, the United States Senate could cast a procedural vote that will bring the chamber one step closer to determining whether the District of Columbia should become America’s 51st state. If Republicans are smart on this, they should vote to support the bill and take the political wind out of the sails of opponents. 

Ill Suited

Tort reform. No, it is not about the pastry business. For years various interest groups have complained that the unscrupulous have abused the right to sue. They've tangled business, medicine, all of us, in a fear of litigation. Far too many decisions are based less on merit than on protecting one's legal butt.

And now, they have another poster child ... that D.C. lawyer and his pants suit. He's demanding $50 million-plus from a dry cleaner who allegedly gave him the wrong trousers. Even when he loses, his small-business defendants will have also lost ... their attorney fees will just about wipe them out.

Fire Destroys Heart of Capitol Hill

Enough politics. It doesn’t matter whether you’re liberal or conservative — if you work and/or live on the Hill, you know and love the Eastern Market.

It’s much more than a Metro stop. It’s a gathering place. It’s the biggest and most lively market in the Washington area. Its Market Lunch serves the best pancakes at breakfast, and the best crab cake sandwich for lunch — both well worth waiting in line for. On weekends, it’s the home of the District’s best farmers’ market, craft fair, and flea market.

But, most of all, it’s a unique neighborhood experience. Unlike most Americans, if you live on the Hill, you don’t shop at the supermarket and load up on two weeks’ worth of groceries at a time. You shop fresh every day — at Mel’s poultry stand, Jack’s cheese shop, the Calamaris family’s produce market, Jorge’s deli, or Angie’s fresh flowers. You know every vendor, and they know you. There’s no other place like it.