Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com November 21, 2011 at 8:15 am 3,171 79 Comments

Board Approves $4.5 Million Water Main Project — On Saturday the County Board approved a $4.5 million contract to install a 36-inch water main under Glebe Road and Williamsburg Boulevard. Part of the project will connect the county’s Fort Ethan Allen Pump Station wit the Minor Hill Reservoir, the county’s main water storage facility. “The new main will support future growth and provide back-up for the water supply system during critical repairs,” Arlington County said in a press release. [Arlington County]

Post Blasts Arlington Classroom Visit Policy — Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews is critical of the “knee-jerk restrictions” that prevent parents of prospective Arlington Traditional School students from arranging hour-long personalized classroom visits for themselves. The school system says ATS holds a parent orientation — which includes a 10 minute visit in a kindergarten class — eight times a year, and cannot accommodate the “added disruption” of “customized, one-on-one meetings” for each family that wants to sit in on a class for an hour. [Washington Post]

Yorktown Reaches Regional Final — The Yorktown Patriots football squad beat the Lee Lancers in a 51-15 blowout on Friday night. The Patriots (12-0) will now face the South County Stallions (9-3) in the Division 5 regional final at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25. [Sun Gazette]

If Arlington Ruled Virginia — TBD takes a tongue-in-cheek look at what Virginia might be like if Arlington’s leaders were in charge of the state. [TBD]

Radio Show to Broadcast from Hard Times Tonight — The LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes, heard on 106.7 The Fan, will be broadcasting live today from Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon (3028 Wilson Blvd) from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. Redskins tight end Chris Cooley is expected to join the broadcast around 5:30 p.m. to break down the Redskins’ overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Flickr pool photo by Maryva2

  • Swag

    “The private school director’s sharp response is common to that breed. She had all the power and no need to cater to outsiders.”

    Replace “outsiders” with “helicopter parents” and that sounds about right.

  • Burger

    I have no dog in the ATS fight but people must remember that Jay has an agenda – as clearly demonstrated by his “allegedly” statistical analysis ranking schools that makes DC and inner-city PG and Montogmery schools equal to Northern Virginia – which anyone with half a brain knows is not right.

    • drax

      Who is your state senator, Burger?

  • yequalsy

    This is not one of Mathews’s better efforts. You’d better believe that if the option was there parents would sign up for the ATS classroom visits by the droves. It would be a huge logistical and security headache for the school. As for the private school, the article does not provide enough information to tell what’s going on. Mathews’s general depiction of private preschool directors is, at best, simplistic.

    • John Fontain

      It would also be a huge distraction for the students and teachers. Imagine being a student and having strange grown ups wander into the class and sit there staring at you for an hour.

      I’m glad Arlington is putting students’ needs first.

  • ballston

    I sure wouldn’t want a bunch of prospective parents sitting in the class with my kids. I think Jay has an axe to grind here.

    • JamesE

      I would probably kill myself if I was a teacher.

      • North Cherrydaler

        When I taught middle school, I had a couple parents sit in my classes. And in both cases, they completely misinterpreted things we were doing–one class is essentially “out of context,” and they chose to read successful classroom practices through an uninformed lens–possibly that of parents whose children are acting out and who want to find someone to blame.

        People often assume that just because they sat in classrooms for 12 years, they know everything there is to know about teaching–as if just because I’ve been seeing doctors all my life, I could practice medicine.

    • BoredHouseWife

      as a parent I would like to know what is being programmed in my child:)~

      • Sam

        Then pay attention to your child and talk to them when they come home and be involved AT HOME in their education process.

      • If you’re so bored at home

        Feel free to homeschool…

  • CW

    Jeez, my folks got invited to a grade school open house once a year and were pleased as punch. I turned out OK (alright, fine, that’s debatable).

    Bunch of snobs whining over having their poor little babies attending the best schools in the nation. Looks like there needs to be a big platter of STFU on the Thanksgiving table this year. Or, to be less cynical, they could give thanks that this is the biggest thing they have to worry about inside their sunny little bubble.

    • John Fontain

      ^^^What CW said^^^

  • I encourage those who are a fan of any sport other than football to show up at Hard Times and engage these guys in alternative sports talk. Maybe then LaVar and Dukes will talk about something other than the Deadskins and I could actually stomach more than 10 minutes of their show.

    • DarkHeart

      Show up with “Free JoePa” signs?

    • Josh S

      You’re kidding, right? You’re surprised that Lavar Arrington spends most of his show talking about football and the Redskins?

      • I didn’t say I was surprised. Actually, Dukes pretty much runs the content of the show it seems.

        There are just other sports teams in Washington to talk about

        • Mr. Brown

          No one talks more Caps than Chad and Lavar, even during football season. It’s not their fault the skins are awful and that the NBA is shut down.

          • Yet listent to them in April and they talk football every day.

          • ArlingtonChick

            In April we like to start out optimism for the season before a 6 straight loosing streak. I am looking forward to discussing how great it would be if we could find a decent quarterback in April, then be absolutely dissatisfied with Rex/Beck in August. It’s classic masochism.

          • Cakes

            Ugh. If it were only talk about snacks, “river or life” and or Drab T-Shirt’s love life, I’d be there.

            To hear Lavar assassinate the English language is a crime.

          • Rick

            Chad appreciates the Capitals, but it’s hard to go on the caps for very long when the co-host can’t pronounce the players names, let alone most 3 syllable words in english. When its Chad+Danny they’re a little more hockey friendly.

  • NoVapologist

    People still read the Washington Post?

    • drax

      Ironic message.

    • Josh S

      Subscribe to it, even…..

    • The Post is a good paper. However, if you are reading it to get the news, you have to realize the “news” isn’t really the news anymore in many cases. The Post can be as bias as the Examiner, FoxNews, MSNBC, or any other slanted outfit. Reading it (or any slanted “news” publication/cast) with that perspective may teach you something actually.

      • drax

        The Post has a little bias, but it is far and away better than some ridiculous rag like the Examiner or Fox News. Come on.

        • Quoth the Raven

          The Post does have bias, but while it leans a bit left, it does a good job striking a balance, at least to me (and no one has ever described me of being left of center). It’s way better than the truly one-sides viewpoints you get on MSNBC or Fox.

          • ArlingtonChick

            I agree, although during the 2008 elections the Post definitely screamed “elect Obama!!!” But anyone with a brain could see that. MSNBC has a new noon-time show that I can only describe as the committee on re-electing our great and amazing president obama. It’s sad, bcz the channel used to be bearable until 4ish.

          • NoVapologist

            I don’t have an issue with the Post’s left-leaning bias (which it has always had) but with the steady decline over many years of the reporting quality in general. And their website is atrociously bad.

          • The web page is not so great, I agree. The printed edition has only increased in cost and decreased in volume over the years. I used to be regular subscriber despite the bias but now only buy it periodically. I get my news elsewhere mostly now. I think that is the fate of most newspapers in thie country sadly. Content is just available elsewhere.

            I would not mind an afternoon print edition of a paper, such as the Washington Star had years ago.

          • drax

            Where do you get good content, all in one place, that is equal to the Post or a similar traditional paper?

          • NoVapologist

            I read the FT and the NY Times.

          • I don’t know about all in one place….. but maybe I’m picky.

            IBD, NY Times, The Post. Generic local news. CNBC. Non-Fox/NBC national news. Internet sources depending upon my mood.

          • drax

            Okay, two responses – both with traditional papers in the mix.

            (I wasn’t suggest relying only on one source though).

        • Or MSNBC.

      • dk

        This oh-so-popular fiction makes me crazy. Sure, everyone has their bias, and no news source is free of it. But to claim that the Washington Post is biased to the extent that Fox News or the Examiner is? That is patently ridiculous.

        Wishing doesn’t make it so.

        • drax


          • SomeGuy

            Uh oh. drax, are you “playing moral relativity games?”

          • drax

            No. You’re confused yet again.

          • SomeGuy

            Nope. Not confused. You selectively choose to make distinctions and split hairs when doing so benefits your point of view, however indefensible. Conversely, you selectively choose to equate distinct and different incidents/concepts when that affirms your point of view.

            And when that tactic doesn’t work, you just say others misunderstood you or are “confused.”

          • drax

            Nope, you’re confused. And I get to say so because I know what I’m thinking, not you. See how that works?

            Here, I’ll explain it – once.

            Absolute objectivity, though not really possible, is the proper goal of an objective news outlet. As dk noted, it’s unfair to imply that because one outlet is biased and so is another, they are both biased to the same degree. But this does not constitute an excuse for the lesser-biased outlet not to live up to the highest standard.

          • SomeGuy

            drax, we had this conversation already. When I drew a distinction between Tea Party violence (small and very isolated incidents) and Occupy violence (riots, vandalism, fires, etc.), you accused me of being wrong for playing “relativity games” by suggesting one was group’s violence was pronounced to a greater degree than the other.

            Now you’re arguing “degrees” of bias. And I’m not saying you’re wrong to do so. Just that your tactics always tend to favor your point of view, and you try to debunk the exact same tactics in one argument that you used in the previous.

            The recap of our previous discussion is here:

            So no, I don’t know what you’re thinking. And I’m not sure you do either. I just go on what you write.

        • ok, let’s take a look at some the recent history of Washington Post Presidential endorsements:

          2008: Obama
          2004: Kerry
          2000: Gore
          1996: Clinton
          1992: Clinton

          That’s 20 years. How far back to you need to go to find a right-sided endorsement to say there isn’t a slant?

          • Quoth the Raven

            I think there clearly is a slant, and I doubt anyone would actually disagree with that. I think the point, though, is that the Post’s slant is not nearly as pronounced as is the slant of some others – such as MSNBC (which, strangely, Drax keeps leaving off his list!), Fox, NY Times, etc.

          • I would agree. They are not Fox. They are not MSNBC. My point is to read the Post with the realization there is a slant. Same goes for either Fox or MSNBC.

          • Quoth the Raven

            Concur. Excellent point.

          • drax

            What list?

          • Quoth the Raven

            You made two comments on this thread, and both times referred to Fox and Examiner. Yet not MSNBC. Hence, my curiosity as to why.

          • drax

            Only one comment.

          • Quoth the Raven

            Two comments. One at 10:07 a.m., and one at 11:41 a.m.

          • SomeGuy

            Quoth, I think you’re confusing drax with dk. Though I have no doubt drax was prepared to redefine the meanings of “one” and “two” if you had been correct.

          • Quoth the Raven

            Rats! You’re right – sorry!!!

          • drax

            That’s not the same thing as news bias though.

          • slant?

            There’s a difference between a paper’s editorial page and its news reporting. The Post’s endorsements don’t mean that the news coverage in the rest of the paper is slanted. This is an important distinction that is clear at the Post, but very blurry at a place like Fox News.

          • Josh S

            I think the editorial section certainly provides a hint as to the point of view of the ownership of the paper, but an actual accusation of “bias” in the news covereage would require a great deal more evidence. For example, do they cover Democratic political scandals less than Republican scandals? Do they fail to give space for one side to express its opinion / arguments? Etc. I think on those measures, the Post shows itself to be quite moderate.
            I mean, they publish Krauthammer regularly and that guy is a raging right-wing loony!
            (Sort of.)
            (He is a raging right-wing loony, and insufferably arrogant to boot, but that has nothing to do with whether or not the Post is a biased newspaper.)

  • Pete

    As the parent of one former and one current Arlington Traditional School student, I’ll just say that principal and her staff know what they’re doing and it has produced results year after year.

    Mr. Mathews’ prospective parent couple need to tamp down their sense of entitlement. Auto mechanics and dentists don’t let potential clients watch for an hour either.

    • Whitney Wilson

      The choices the parents are making here a where to send their kid for the first 6 years of their education. Its a pretty significant decision for the parents to make. I understand why the parents would prefer not to have to rely on the canned tour, and would like to see a more “normal” experience in the classroom. Some of the elementary schools are happy (or at least willing) to allow pre-parental visits like this if requested. I can understand that ATS might only be willing to make this option available to the parents of kids who have been accepted through the lottery, but to have a blanket “no” policy seems unreasonable to me.

      • John Fontain

        Wouldn’t talking to friends and neighbors with kids at the school give these parents a lot more substantive insight than sitting in one particular class for one particular hour?

        Besides, common sense would tell you that the teacher being observed is likely to put on whatever ‘show’ he or she thinks is appropriate during the observation if there really was unproductive instruction being provided otherwise.

      • OMG OMG OMG

        Um, no. That is exactly the kind of over-thinking (hovering) that is the problem. A child could go to any of the elementary schools in Arlington and get a damn fine education and early life ‘training.’ Selection of elementary school is a luxury. The more important basic training is at home.

        • drax

          These are the kind of people who worry themselves to death over what preschool will get their kid into Harvard.

          • John Fontain

            No joke, I knew a couple who were worried about this. They once mentioned that they had to get their kid into a certain preschool to be able to get into this other elementary school, etc. They were talking about the entire path to a prestigious college when the kid was 2 years old. It was crazy.

            Another sad thing, when parents won’t let their kids have the benefit of going to the neighborhood school and being friends and classmates with the neighbors, but instead send their kids to the another “more special” school. These kids often barely know or socialize with the bulk of kids in their neighborhood, which is really sad.

        • Whitney Wilson

          I agree that any Arlington elementary school can give your child a good educational foundation. But there are very profound differences between some of them. For example, 6 years at ATS versus 6 years of Spanish immersion at Key or Claremont versus 6 years of Montessori makes for a very different experience. Some choices may be good for your kid, some may not. But if parents are going to have choices (which in Arlington they usually do), letting them sit in on a class doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

          • Peg

            ATS just has way too many applicants to allow them to do this before they even get in. It would disrupt the class and teach the parents nothing about the school.

            What really makes ATS special is its exclusivity. Even though that exclusivity is by lottery, by making it exclusive, it attracts parents who are zealous about their children’s education and willing to jump through hoops to get their kids in, and they are surrounded by other kids whose parents are equally zealous, leading to a whole school of kids whose parents are involved and determined to get the best education. Parental involvement = excellence in education. What I’m not convinced of is whether this is in any way a good thing overall — I imagine that many of those kids would do just as well in their neighborhood schools, and those schools would benefit from their presence.

          • Whitney Wilson

            I think limiting the sit-ins to those who get in through the lottery is completely reasonable. That would dramatically limit the universe of possible sit-ins.

          • John Fontain

            So if having your kid learn Spanish is the top priority, do you really need to sit in a class for an hour to figure out that they’ll learn more Spanish at Key than at ATS?

          • Meaghan

            I for one do not want outsiders stomping through my child’s classroom. My child is autistic but high functioning enough to be in a regular classroom much of the day. However, strangers visiting, and a teacher on edge because of those strangers, can be disastrous. In addition, observers cannot help but notice services being offered to this or that child — without clear educational need, that is an invasion of his privacy. In a previous setting (not APS) I had a parent approach me at a meeting and ask me whether I “felt bad” that my child was getting special ed services while teachers aides were being cut. I was outraged.

            No, please keep strange helicopter parents away from my child’s classroom, particularly when their child probably won’t get into ATS so it is really a moot point.

      • drax

        Considering that most people don’t even have that choice, and don’t freak out about it, I think parents can get plenty of information about a school without having to sit in on a classroom. In fact, I doubt that would help much. An hour of class doesn’t tell you what the whole school experience is like.

        What’s next, sitting in on lunch to see how nutritional the food is?

      • Loocy

        But ATS doesn’t have a blanket “no” policy. The spokeswoman is quoted in the article that they could arrange such a visit if and after the child is accepted into the lottery. Last I checked, ATS has a lot more applicants than openings, so it makes sense to see if that is even an option first. It’s free, it’s easy, fill out the form and submit.

        Also, I’m not convinced that sitting in a particular class with a particular teacher for a particular hour is going to give that much more insight into the general atmosphere in a school than the generalized tour.

  • Michael H.

    I thought TBD was closing up shop. Or at least they were going to stop covering most of the suburbs.

    I see why you posted that photo gallery. No. 13 is interesting. “Relentless”? Should that become the new tag line? Sort of makes you sound like Rambo.

  • Thes

    I would tend to agree that having a strange person sitting in the room with you for an hour could really disrupt what you’re doing. I certainly wouldn’t want that to happen at my workplace. I also agree that just one hour might not tell you all you need to see about an entire school. So what about having the school videotape a fair cross section of classes (say, 1 hour each from 10 classrooms)? Then the obsessive parents could over-research to their hearts’ content and leave everyone else in peace.

  • Rick

    The county cannot tear up williamsburg blvd soon enough. They’ve let 15 years of potholes do most of the work already

  • charlie

    another reason to close ATS. It has clearly become a private-school within a public school system.

    The arrogance of these parents to suggest that they need a one-hour screening is an insult to:
    the kids and parents already in the school who will be disrupted;
    the administration we hire to run these schools and who should know what is right for that school;
    the commuters who have to now have these parents on the road each rush-hour to shuttle their gifted darlings across the county; and; a disgusting insult to the poor kids and parents who have to put up with these people when their kids don’t get into ATS and are forced to their otherwise excellent neighborhood school.

    What if every parent asked every school for an hour? yeah, right. ATS isn’t all that special and it should be just like the other schools. Otherwise close the darn place.

    • drax

      It’s just a lottery school though. Not for the rich or the gifted, just the lucky.

      • charlie

        i know.

        so you win the lottery — you go.

        you don’t then get to “decide”.

        • cranky crankypants

          Actually, Charlie, once a slot is opened to a child, the family has to accept that slot. The children with low numbers on the waitlist are often accommodated before the new school year because families did not accept slots.

          • charlie

            so why the preview? people want to preview before even going on the list? yikes. big helicopters!!

  • RJ

    Did I count two digs at ArlNow.com in that “If all of Virginia were like Arlington” photo gallery on TBD.com? Jealous much?

  • OATS !

    Occupy Arlington Traditional School !


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