City Desk

Chatter: Reform School

kempmillWhat you said about what we said in our Aug. 30 issue

At-Large Councilmember David Catania’s failure to enact a battery of public education reforms earlier this year still haunts him, as Will Sommer reported in his Aug. 30 Loose Lips column. But to hear commenter drez tell it, Catania’s idea to weight school funding by the number of students receiving free or reduced lunches—a plan that would send more money to schools with poorer students—should get some credit for stirring the pot. “If nothing else, at the end of the day Catania is helping to keep a needed discussion alive and moving in a productive direction,” drez wrote. DCShadyBoots wasn’t convinced: “This conversation would be alive with or without David Catania. We have an active school chancellor who is making slow but sure progress in turning around poor academic performance.”

Some readers took umbrage with a scene from Sommer’s piece in which a student criticized Catania for calling his school “low-quality.” Take it away, Noodlez: “SO IN ONE OF THE POOREST NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE THEY NEED THE MOST HELP HE BLURTED OUT THE LAST THING THEY NEED TO HEAR? HE NEED TO ISSUE AN APOLOGY. THAT WAS FOUL. NO MATTER WHAT HE THINKS HE STILL SHOULD NOT HAVE SAID IT.”

Reader Aaron pointed to a recent broadcast of The Diane Rehm Show featuring journalist (and former City Paper staffer) Amanda Ripley, who recently wrote a book about public education systems across the world. “The guest says that unless you increase the PRESTIGE of teaching, it’s likely education will not improve in the U.S.,” Aaron wrote. “The guest also says that in countries with the best ed systems, more money does go to poorer schools. Here, less funds go to poorer schools. So Catania is on the right track and this article did a bad job breaking the issues down. It focused on zap and zazz and flash and drama and strife over in depth breaking down. But that’s City Paper for ya.”

Blight Fixtures

The ’80s have stayed with Michael Horsley, the local photographer profiled by Christopher Heller. And for some readers, Horsley’s images of D.C.’s toughest years were an “amazing amnesia cure,” as former City Paper Arts Editor Brad McKee tweeted.

“Having lived in the city for about eight years beginning 1987 I walk around the same streets now and feel confused,” wrote Lisa. “You want to talk to people who remember. I want to go back 15 years just for five minutes to recapture the feeling of the streets back then. It feels something is missing now but I wouldn’t want it to be the past again. The transformation has been so profound and sudden that it’s hard to process the past with now. These photos are so meaningful because they make me recall that feeling—the desolation, emptiness, grime, and danger and yet it was home, it was my city too, and I loved it for all that.”

Another reader spent the ’80s near the 14th Street NW corridor, where Horsley took many of his photos. “My daughters can’t believe that most of the places they frequent in Adams Morgan were empty storefronts, and that you could see heroin sold on Meridian [Hill Park] day or night,” wrote Phil Cross. “I miss the Omega Cuban restaurant on Columbia, the El Salvadoran guys who painted and scraped windows and trim with me as we worked on rehabs around the area and the music at the real Columbia Station—when it was on Columbia.”

Horsley himself showed up in the comments, adding a coda to an anecdote in the article in which he steals out-of-date film from his employer to use for his own photography. “I did make amends many years later and paid back money to the owner of the store where I stole the film,” he wrote.

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  • Typical DC BS

    Ah yes, the liberal mind hard at work thinking of ways to piss more money away without solving the real problems. The kids and their parents are the problem. No discipline, uninterested and pathetic parents, a culture that worships stupidity and thinks being smart is "acting white". Yup, more money will certainly solve the school system problems.