28 July 2007

Consider the bicycle...

You can love your bicycle, right? I mean, you can really enjoy sitting on that saddle, pumping the pedals, and feeling the air rush by you as you roll you down the street, isnt' that so?

Of course.

So if you love your bike, and have made a relatively substantial investment in the machine so you don't herniate yourself dragging it up and down stairs, chances are someone else loves your bike, although not for the same reasons you do. Others may admire your bike because it represents a small but significant resale value as stolen merchandise.

So if you love your bike, for the love of all you hold dear, don't trust a cable lock. You will end up like this:

Very sad. I spotted this unhappy remnant of better times Friday as I dropped my daughter off at daycare. It was a fairly thick cable lock, but now it's worse than useless. Invest the extra $90 in a strong U-Lock and avoid when possible leaving your bike outside for extended periods of time, especially on poorly lighted/travelled side streets.

27 July 2007

We didn't know what we were getting into...

No, this post is not about Iraq, although the headline is applicable, and to tell you the truth, the pathetic excuses coming from the officials are very similar and have their grounding in the same basic truth: when you refuse to listen to criticism, when you brand critics as disloyal or coddling failed regimes, when you push forward without clear ideas about where you're going or how to get there, then you make colossal mistakes.

I am speaking, of course, of Mayor Fenty's takeover of DC schools.

Buried in freebie-rag The Examiner's Friday story about the failure of many DC public schools to make NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is the following revealing statement:
But aides to the mayor now say they didn’t realize what they were getting into when they moved to take over the stricken schools and are quietly moving to dampen public expectations for reform.

Huh? All these fools needed to do was ask any involved parent out there and they could have found out the state of DC schools. Did Fenty think he would wave his magic wand, sprinkle pixie dust all over the schools, hire a former school teacher with only three years' experience to run the schools (by the way, it generally takes more experience to become eligible for principal positions, let alone system head positions), and voila! we have school reform?

I actually think he did believe that.

I suppose that instead of studying the state of DC schools, the mayor and his cohorts were out touring other school districts and stealing printed material to pass off as their own. Let's not forget that Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso couldn't even be bothered to write his own plan for reforming the schools, or that Rhee couldn't substantiate some of the more impressive claims of her resume, not that the city council cared a whole lot.

Critics of the plan who saw the takeover as a done deal still advised Fenty to keep Janey, who remains the only DCPS Superintendent not to run away from the job in the last decade plus. Fenty, you may recall, unceremoniously fired Janey in a midnight phone call.

Now DC parents and students are being told, "Sorry, we weren't actually aware of what we were doing, but you all can suffer because we're pompous assholes. Don't expect much." I am, of course, paraphrasing, as I don't have the mayor's aides' words in front of me.

[I could now launch into a diatribe about the idiocy of bringing business models to education, the ideological failure of libertarian education approaches, the hubris of politicians who believe experience is a liability, etc., but see my last post about the constraints of time...perhaps another day. Additionally, I could include a paragraph about the trustworthiness of the Examiner, which in the very same issue refers to "acclaimed author" David Horowitz...D.Ho is hardly an acclaimed author, unless of course you count ill-researched alarmist right-wing claptrap as worthy of acclaim. If you'd care to see him take yet another verbal beat-down, check here.]

26 July 2007

Some information you probably didn't need.

My posts have been falling off lately, and while probably only about two people on this entire planet other than myself have noticed, I feel compelled to offer some reasons.

1. It's gotten busier at work. I've been spending more time at work and as a result I have less disposable time. I'm really hoping this situation is temporary, as I do not appreciate working so hard.

2. More extracurriculars. The summer has been too busy by far. Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxation and recovery, but so far it's been very little of either. Drama at my son's school, illnesses, even a family wedding (yeah, I know, family weddings are supposedly prime blogging fodder, but...I've got nothing) have taken up too much time.

3. Children apparently don't understand, "OK. Time to go to bed." The past few weeks it has been 10 or 10:30, which means I'm falling asleep too and waking up sometime around 1:30 a.m. before dragging myself out of one of the kids' beds and into my own. Not very conducive to that nice evening reflective time (and even productive time) my wife and I used to enjoy.

As a result, I've missed a few things I've wanted to talk about, which I'll list out:

1. Going to see EMERGENCE-See at Arena stage. The show closed last weekend, but it was amazing. Daniel Beaty was high energy and fantastic rolling through character after character as he used the device of a slave ship rising out of the waters near the Statue of Liberty to take on the legacy of slavery on Black experiences in America (experiences plural because one thing Beaty makes clear in his performance is that nothing is singular about Black lives -- or any other lives for that matter).

2. My son's love for Charlie Chaplin films. In the past few weeks we've watched The Kid, Modern Times, and City Lights (thank you, NetFlix). He takes great joy in the physical humor Chaplin brings across and he also asks some interesting questions about the themes. He loves the self-feeding machine in Modern Times...

3. Various and miscellaneous. The usual garbage I write about Dear Leader's latest lies (can you by the way believe Tony Snow? I mean, press secretaries are by definition liars, but I do believe he takes the cake for the ballsiest lying imaginable), the state of education in the District, and other gems.

23 July 2007

Logan Circle in transition.

Dinaw Mengestu's novel The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears uses Logan Circle of the late 1990's as its setting (reviewers who say otherwise probably didn't catch the narrator's mention that old calendars with three years from the mid-1990's still hang in his neglected grocery store (the exact years escape me now, but I think he mentions 1993, 1994, and 1996), which DC residents should realize were pivotal transitional years in Logan Circle's transformation from a run-down affordable neighborhood rife with prostitution to an overpriced hip location that houses one of the busiest Whole Foods stores in the entire chain.
I lived in the Logan Circle area (13th and N) for a year (1994-1995), and I found much familiar about Mengestu's description of the parade of prostitutes and the long line of cars with their solitary drivers looking to make a deal, but a few notes did hit a bit wrong, such as when he placed 12th and New Hampshire only "a block and a half from General Logan's statue." Perhaps he meant 12th and Vermont or 12th and Rhode Island, because 12th and New Hampshire don't ever intersect, and if they did it would be in Columbia Heights, not Logan Circle (12th ends at Euclid Street and New Hampshire is interrupted around 15th Street and doesn't pick up again until 10th Street). This technicality, while jarring for someone familiar with the area, is more an editorial issue than anything else; Mengestu's story is beautifully written and full of significant observations about gentrification and its discontents as well as immigration and its discontents.
The narrator, Sepha Stephanos, is an immigrant from Ethiopia, a refugee from the Red Terror of the late 1970's. While the novel's present is the late 1990's, Stephanos fills in the gaps between his fleeing Ethiopia and his current situation as a small business owner in a gentrifying neighborhood through interspersed recollections. At the age of 19 he finds himself working at a hotel in Washington, DC, and living with his uncle in Silver Spring. After a few years, he opens his grocery store in Logan Circle, but this story is not the stereotypical tale of hardworking immigrant makes good and flourishes in the land of opportunity; to begin with, Stephanos is not exactly hardworking and his neglected store, with out of date merchandise and few customers, is not going to be his for long: behind on his rent, he has been served an eviction notice. He feels himself to be stuck in a rut, and he's confused about his future and not particularly concerned about his present. As for the past, he's neither overwhelmed by it nor free of it.
His two closest friends, Kenneth and Joe are fellow immigrants from Africa, and the three of them spend much time together drinking and playing a game best described as "name the coup," in which they toss out a coup leader's name and the others try to guess the year and the country. It's a sad observation, as Stephanos realizes, that they can play this game forever, because they will never run out of names. Although the three friends met while working at the same downtown hotel (named the Capitol Hotel in the book), their lives have taken different trajectories since: Kenneth is now an engineer working in a small firm, Stephanos is an independent small business owner, and Joe is now waiting tables at one of the more exclusive Washington power dining spots (think Capital Grille or some such den of lobbyists). The interaction among these friends is the highlight of the novel, in part because it allows Mengestu to break up the monolithic "immigrant experience" into several strands and to present competing attitudes toward their home continent and countries.
The title is drawn from Dante, and references abound to the Divine Comedy throughout the book. Some of the references are quite direct, such as Stephanos or Joe quoting directly from Dante, but it's also hard to overlook the fact that Stephanos is 37 years old, pretty close to Dante's narrator, who begins Inferno with the lines, "Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost." Stephanos is indeed lost, not seeming to have any clear attachments to anyone or anything. Additionally, it's not hard to see Logan Circle as one of Dante's circles of Hell, but which one? Lust? Avarice and Prodigality? Fraud?
A second storyline in the novel is Stephanos's relation with a new neighbor, Judith, and her 11 year old daughter, Naomi. Judith, a white professor, moves to Logan Circle to rehabilitate one of the dilapidated mansions that ring the circle, and as such she's a representative of gentrification. Her daughter is obviously biracial, and it turns out that Judith had been married to a Mauritanian professor of economics. Mengestu highlights the relationship between Stephanos and Naomi, who comes to the store after school to hang out and talk with him; they eventually begin a book club of sorts, taking turns reading to each other from The Brothers Karamazov, which is an odd choice for an eleven year old, but they trudge through it nonetheless. The relationship between Stephanos and Judith is less pronounced, leading one to wonder how much of it is actually just wishful thinking on Stephanos's part, and is full of lingering unrealized possibilities that fall apart as class and cultural differences come into play. Judith becomes a target for neighborhood resentment of gentrification, and Stephanos becomes caught in the middle, although it might be more appropriate to describe him as a spectator, like Dante, walking through hell.

Looking down P Street, from Logan Circle toward Dupont Circle.

At one point, in fact in the final afternoon of the novel, Stephanos serves a tourist couple then abandons his store to follow them at a distance as they walk along P Street to Dupont Circle. At Dupont, Stephanos lies down in the grass and stares up at the sky, while his store remains untended and unlocked. Eventually he wanders back toward Logan Circle, but the novel ends with his not returning to the store, instead preserving in his mind a more idealized vision of the store and leaving us with the idea that even if he hasn't found his way forward, his life as a shopkeeper is over.

16 July 2007

How to ruin a pleasant Sunday morning...

Yesterday I read loonybird William Kristol's column in the Washington Post Outlook section. Seriously, who would the Post need to "balance" their page against this proponent of the capitalist police state? Maybe Hardt and Negri or Fredric Jameson? Fat chance of that every happening.

Kristol's paean to Bush has the unbelievable title of "Why Bush Will Be a Winner," which should be clue #1 that we are nowhere in the land of reality but rather have moved to Cloud Cuckooland with the neocons...where the "free" market fixes everything and all you have to do is explain to the benighted masses democracy at the end of a gun barrel and -- voila! -- you have tiny little idealistic Americas everywhere.

To understand just how out of touch Kristol is, you have to look at the contortions he makes to avoid telling the truth about Bush's failed Presidency:
What about terrorism? Apart from Iraq, there has been less of it, here and abroad, than many experts predicted on Sept. 12, 2001. So Bush and Vice President Cheney probably are doing some important things right. The war in Afghanistan has gone reasonably well.

Oh, yeah, "apart from Iraq." Yes, apart from the biggest blunder any President has made since Johnson trumped up the Gulf of Tonkin incident, terrorism is down. And if I discount all the miserably decrepit falling down, understaffed, failing schools in DC, DC has a top-notch school system. And what "experts" could Kristol be talking about? His own cadre of neo-imperialists, who jumped on 9-11 as an excuse to go after anyone they felt didn't toe the American line and attempted to relabel anyone operating outside the law as a terrorist (remember how people who smoked marijuana were really just terrorist sympathizers), most likely. So sure, I suppose if you count Kristol's cabal of reality-deniers as experts, you can easily arrive at the conclusion that Bush's crackdown on U.S. citizens' Constitutional rights has been an overwhelming success. And then he dares talk about the war in Afghanistan (remember that sidelight? the most notable thing to come out of that war has been the ongoing revelations of the government's cover-up of the Pat Tillman death.) as going "reasonably well." What the hell? In Afghanistan we have a pro-US government that nearly everyone sees as a puppet government with a head of state who can't venture outside a small section of Kabul without risking death from one of several tribal or religious factions around the country. I suppose if you compare it to Iraq, it is going "reasonably well." But I forgot: Kristol's trying to leave Iraq to the side...

Except he doesn't. He comes around in the end to argue that Bush's policies are finally leading the way to victory in Iraq (oooo...and what if we hadn't gone in....well Saddam would still be in charge...and then it becomes a playground of speculative bullshit that even Kristol has to admit is, well, speculative bullshit), yet he makes assertions that are so far removed from reality that you almost think you're reading The Onion. Except The Onion is funny. Just read these choice paragraphs to get a sense of how he's lost his:
With the new counterinsurgency strategy announced on Jan. 10, backed up by the troop "surge," I think the odds are finally better than 50-50 that we will prevail. We are routing al-Qaeda in Iraq, we are beginning to curb the Iranian-backed sectarian Shiite militias and we are increasingly able to protect more of the Iraqi population.

If we sustain the surge for a year and continue to train Iraqi troops effectively, we can probably begin to draw down in mid- to late 2008. The fact is that military progress on the ground in Iraq in the past few months has been greater than even surge proponents like me expected, and political progress is beginning to follow.

Where do you even begin with this lunacy? Outside the Kool-Aid drinking Bush administration lackeys, no one believes the surge has made any sort of impact on the situation in Iraq. Does he think the same people who read his column are somehow turning blind eyes to the news coming out of Iraq (another 80+ killed in car bombings today...despite Kristol's smug assertions). But I hope you also noticed his little hedge about beginning a drawdown in 2008, which just happens to be the time period that opponents of the Bush strategy are talking about drawdown. Kristol's strategy, now as always, is to tell the Big Lie but leave yourself an out.

Remember that it's bitter, blinder-addled, malicious old men like Kristol who are making the noises that this administration hears.

13 July 2007

So a short time ago I managed to see both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (closes July 22) and Hamlet (closes July 29) in the same week. The former is playing at the Studio Theatre and the latter at the Shakespeare Theatre. While I'd seen Hamlet staged before, I had never seen Stoppard's play staged before. I'm glad we saw the Stoppard before the Shakespeare, because the Shakespeare Theatre production made a few allusions to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead that would have passed right over my head, such as the coin flips executed incessantly in Stoppard's play.

It was also fun to see the central action of Hamlet pressed to the margins so the side characters and minor subplots could come out. At the Studio, the actor playing Hamlet put on a little campiness (not in a bad way) when he delivered one of Hamlet's leading and laden speeches to Polonius, and Floyd King's turn as the debauched Player is tremendous. The leads are both great, and I can only imagine how exhausting that play must be for the two of them, as they are both on stage nearly the entire time (really...the entire time, with one or two breaks that might be long enough to catch their breath).

Seriously, go see it.

The interesting thing to me about Shakespeare Theatre's production of Hamlet is that I last saw them produce Hamlet with Wallace Acton in the lead, and if you've ever seen Wallace Acton in a leading role, you tend to think he's the perfect actor for the part. He did an amazing Ariel in The Tempest several years ago, and a chilling Richard III (the most recent Shakespeare Theatre production of Richard III was so dead to me that my wife and I actually walked out of the theatre at intermission, and we've never done that before, even when she was ill with the inappropriately named "morning sickness" before our son was born), but sadly Wallace Acton is no longer in Washington, having deserted our little backwater for the bright lights of New York City.

So I was worried that I wouldn't find this Hamlet so very good in Hamlet. Not true, not true. Jeffrey Carlson's Hamlet comes across as far more disturbed than Acton's portrayal, and while Acton's Hamlet emphasized the calculating side of the Prince with occasional bursts of mania, Carlson plays the mania up with occasional bursts of calculation. It's a powerful performance, which is good, since the play is over three hours long. Michelle Beck's Ophelia is very good and in my mind highlights a recent trend at the Shakespeare Theatre: good actresses playing very solid roles with more depth than in the past. This production also brings forth the sexual interactions between the King and Queen, with one scene making it quite obvious that the two have been interrupted in the midst of lovemaking...ewww is pretty much what I thought.

Let me tell you, it's a busy month for theatre as far as I'm concerned. This weekend we're hitting the Imagination Stage production of The Araboolies of Liberty Street and then Arena Stage's EMERGENCE-See.

10 July 2007

I can't believe I finished another book...

I just finished Continental Drift by Russell Banks. It's pretty amazing storytelling, although I'm not sure I really find the ending all that plausible. Of course, whenever I think that to myself I go back and think about how much I really really enjoy reading Faulkner, despite the relative implausibility of many of his situations (Light in August anyone?). So it isn't really that it's improbable; it's more a question of how we get from point A to point B, and I know the character was seeking atonement, but I'm not clear that point B really was the proper destination. Or better: point B may have been the proper destination but we simply hadn't arrived yet.

Banks is brilliant at evoking the competing emotions and external forces that make our lives not our own, even while giving his characters the dignity and power of making whatever choices they can to make their lives their own. As Marx argues, "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past." So Bob Dubois, a New Englander transplanted to Florida, finds himself caught up in a few dead end jobs, the effects of a pervasively racist society, and the difference between commitment and desire. In the novel's other storyline, Vanise Dorsinville, a Haitian refugee, finds herself, through a relative's almost trivial transgression, thrown into a chain of events that leads her through servitude, rape, and murder to Miami's Little Haiti.

Among the most disturbing aspects of the story is how little will Vanise seems to exhibit: she more or less accepts the fate supplied to her, as if she were an object that only moved when an outside force moved it, which in this case is often her nephew, Claude (whose transgression -- stealing a ham from a wrecked truck -- started their flight in motion). Her situation is harrowing, and Banks' point is well-taken: when you have nothing else to trade, your body is your sole commodity.

Bob learns as well that he has little to offer outside his own (laboring) body, first as a heating oil company repairman, then as a liquor store manager, and finally as a captain who leads recreational fishing tours on someone else's boat. He's made bad decisions by putting his faith in the promises of family and friends, and by the time he and Vanise's stories intersect, he has sacrificed his principles in a last hope to get his head above water.

The story has resonance with John Dos Passos's colossal USA Trilogy, especially the final book, The Big Money, where the characters lose their ways in pursuit of quick riches and power. It's an apt pairing, because both Banks and Dos Passos have been excellent chroniclers of the dreams and disasters of American life.

For my next book, I'm turning to the very recent The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, by Dinaw Mengestu. It was published this year and it's set in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC, and serves as both a chronicle of the immigrant experience and a tale of gentrification.

09 July 2007

Some careers are more exciting than others...

So I was back in my hometown last weekend for my brother's wedding, and a good time it was. During one of my many errands during those busy few days, I chanced upon this billboard in two separate locations. I took a really crappy picture of it, but I think it's clear enough for the disturbing aspects to come through:

Note that the gentleman who posed for this picture is holding a billyclub or nightstick or control bar or whatever the technical term is that cops use for the club they use. What isn't so evident from the poor photo I took is that the gentleman is also sporting a really cheesy moustache, the sort that some teenagers grow in high school.

So what's the excitement the advertisers allude to? Is it beating drunks over the head? Holding a prisoner up against the wall with your nightstick? Hmm. It may be time to think of Barthes' Mythologies to delve deeper into this mystery.

05 July 2007

Meanwhile, across the pond...

Jonathan Jones, the Guardian's art critic, has a damning piece on British graffiti artist "Banksy," someone whose career I've followed for a few years, at first because I thought it was hilarious that he would sneak into major galleries and hang his own artwork there. More recently, I took a bit more interest in his exterior stencil work when the whole "Borf" phenomenon was happening around DC.

You remember Borf, don't you? He had a few mildly amusing stencils (more amusing for their location than anything else), but overall he was just scrawling his name on whatever surface he could find. Post-conviction, a group of people who badly need to have their own homes vandalized claimed that "Borf" was not an individual, but rather a collective or possibly a movement, and mounted an art show under the moniker of the "Borf Brigade."

Well, Borf is a pale imitation of Banksy. And when I say imitation, I should probably say that the only similarity is that they both employ stencils in their works.
Jones, apparently blind to the fact that most of the art world's history is full of mavericks who are rejected by the establishment (hello: Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain") believes that Banksy's work is nothing more than a visual gag, something that "If he had gone to college, he might be making good money in advertising by now." Meow.

Perhaps Jones is right. Perhaps Banksy is a passing fad, but I have deep doubts about the opinion of anyone who cites Cy Twombly in a positive manner.

Here's an example of Banksy's work:

For some reason Banksy's site is not loading properly, so I couldn't get a picture of some of his gallery hangings, but I'm putting my money on Banksy being more like the Dadaists, the Fauvists, and the Pop Artists than a passing fancy.

03 July 2007

I fought the law and I won...I am the law so I won.

The beauty of being a criminal in a well-organized criminal syndicate is that you know you're protected by the people above you. Sure, they might hang you out there to take a rap or two, but they'll do what they can to make sure you're not too put upon and that you're justly rewarded for your sacrifice to the family.

And so, Scooter Libby avoided jail time when the titular head of the executive branch exercised his Constitutional right to pardon or commute convicted criminals. Every President does it, although generally not in such an obviously partisan and blatantly uncalled for way. Usually a President waits until the end of his term before turning to the business of pardons, and then the pardons are doled out to relatively obscure figures, perhaps tertiary attractions to the main show, but Bush went straight to the payback for Libby sitting there and taking it on the chin for the most corrupt administration since Richard Nixon's.

Speaking of which, the Libby commutation is perhaps even filthier than Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon for "any crimes he may have committed against the United States while President" -- about as broad a whitewashing as you can imagine.

Bonus points for anyone who can identify the origin of my post's title.

02 July 2007

Lies Lies and More Lies. And what does it matter?

Let's try to be serious for a moment. Let's try to suspend all our fantasies, our assurances that despite all odds, it really is the 70 to 1 longshot that will win the Derby, that in fact one lone veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder could take on and defeat the entire Vietnamese Army, that we really could escape from certain death by building a jetpack from a filed-down bicycle frame, two rubber bands, and an empty tin of Port Cliff Fish Steaks...

Let's try to pretend that we still think logically.

Here's the situation. Your local mayor (remember, this is hypothetical: it could be any mayor) has requested control of the school district, and to advance his cause he hires someone to write a comprehensive strategy for the his school reform plan. Unfortunately, that person steals nearly one-third of the final plan from another school district, an act that in education circles is referred to as "plagiarism" and generally warrants a failing grade for the offender (in this case the miscreant has not only not been punished, but also he's not even interested in explaining himself).

Just pretend something that crazy happened. Then pretend that despite this early signal that the mayor was not exactly capable of overseeing such a complex operation as a real school system if he couldn't even get together a good original one on paper, the city council approves the takeover.

I know, I know. Just pretend.

Now suppose then that the mayor, having been granted power over the schools, makes a midnight appointment without consulting a panel that was to be able to give feedback on the nomination -- in violation of the specific directives of the School Takeover Act that he championed -- and that the nominee was a former classroom teacher with three years experience in the classroom and about a decade's experience as a headhunter...you'd think he was joking.

But remember...we're still in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe...so let's say everyone takes him seriously and the city council decides to hold confirmation hearings.

Then it comes out that some very very specific accomplishments listed on the nominee's resume can't be substantiated. We're not talking about whether the sun was shining on a particular day or whether she took five or six steps to reach the refrigerator from the dining room...no, we're talking about percentile numbers on student achievement tests. It sounds ludicrous, doesn't it, to make claims about something that is so concrete, so specific. Yet here we are.

Apparently, Michelle Rhee, trying to make the most of her scant three years inside a classroom, claimed on her resume that she had made remarkable improvements in the students' test scores in Baltimore. However, she didn't simply claim that the scores improved; she gave very specific numbers, as the Post story tells us:
Rhee's résumé asserts that the students made a dramatic gain: "Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or

OK. Those numbers have to come from somewhere, right? I mean, unless you're just making them up. I mean, test scores are things that school districts document, prospective parents and teachers research, and government bodies tend to track (even before the days of NCLB). Yet, Rhee either thinks we're really stupid or she quite honestly just "guessed" that her student's improved so dramatically:
"When people say, 'Do you have documentation?', I've been saying no," Rhee said yesterday. "I think this is an important thing going forward for teachers to have documents to say, 'This is what the data look like.' My lesson is: How do we set up a system so teachers can have this kind of information on their students?"

Say what? You have absolutely no evidence for a major claim on your resume, the one experience you have in direct classroom instruction, and you think the lesson is that teacher's need to have documentation? How about, "the lesson is I shouldn't lie on my resume"? Because I have news for Rhee: teachers do have that kind of information on their students, at least in DCPS, because the good ones use it to target instruction. They've had that data on my child in every teacher conference I've ever attended. So if the lesson Michelle Rhee takes from her false statements is that we need to set up a system, then she's missed the boat before she's even begun. The system is already there, and I'm not clear on how lying on your resume is related to creating another system for making teachers aware of their students' progress.

I have no faith in the DC City Council to do the right thing -- they are a pathetic lot who have almost no political backbone and their major interest lies in posturing and preening -- but what makes this entire episode so upsetting to me is that the mayor's grand plan, his revolution in education, is looking more and more like the same politics as usual.

Maybe multiple instances of dishonesty from those who would be leaders of this new education experiment inspire the faith of the Council, but not me.