Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Town Hall

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman will be holding his first Town Hall Meeting tonight at the Other Barn in the Village of Oakland Mills, Columbia. This is pretty exciting from a Village Green/Town Squared perspective (where Columbia and Howard County intersect.)

How ironic that I have a prior commitment driving my daughter to a mandatory rehearsal in Towson. Colossal blogger fail. I hope you will go and bring me up to date. Although public meetings in Oakland Mills in the last several years haven't always shown residents at their best, I'm hoping this one will draw a wider audience with a more varied perspective.

Whether you go or not, I want to point out how incredibly lucky we are in Howard County to have the Other Barn. We don't have many large community spaces in Howard County. Large indoor performances happen mostly at the Rouse Theater. Outdoors? Merriweather. Large community charitable events used to be held in the old Rouse Building--now the site of our new Whole Foods.

There are a few community centers throughout the county but none, in my opinion, has the "Town Hall" feeling and architectural presence of the Other Barn. How incredibly lucky we are that this building was preserved. Oakland Mills uses it all the time: wedding receptions, concerts, community celebrations, OMCA meetings, classes, and more. It also serves as a resource for large meetings whose scope reaches beyond Oakland Mills--tonight, for instance.

Long, long down the road, in the later part of the Inner Arbor/Symphony Woods plan, there are proposals for public buildings that will meet community needs for indoor performance space, public meetings, and charitable events. We really need them. In fact we need them now. When I read about the Metopolitan reaching completion, the development of the Crescent Property, and improvements to Merriweather, I want to see those vital community spaces functioning right at the heart of it all.

But no matter how that all comes to fruition, we'll still need the Other Barn. Yes, it looks old fashioned but it's incredibly versatile and gives us a real sense of place. So, if you're able to come this evening, bring your good manners/hococivility, and a sense of appreciation for this good old space where we can all come together.



Monday, March 30, 2015

Twitter Smackdown

From Twitter on 3/28/15:

@JulieZauzmer: I've been to all 91 DC Metro stations. My essay in @washingtonpost on memory, community, & even romance on @wmata.

@Lawrence_n_DC: @juliezauzmer @washingtonpost @wmata If you were actually born and raised in the District, I'd probably care.

@JulieZauzmer: @Lawrence_n_DC Fair. We can't help where we're born. I can try my best to learn deeply and sincerely about a place, but never the same.


Remind you of anything? "How long have you lived in Columbia?"

And I thought this was principally a Columbia phenomenon. No, apparently there will always be someone ready to smack you down if you don't meet their qualifications for residency. What a pity.

I share it here because 1) I loved her article, and 2) her response is brilliant. She acknowledged that there is a distinction between her experience and that of the "born and raised here" resident, but notes:

We can't help where we're born. I can try my best to learn deeply and sincerely about a place...

I admire Zaumer for rising above the snarkiness of her detractor. And my wish would be that born and raised Columbians (and Pioneers) would welcome, rather than dismiss, those who do their best to learn deeply and sincerely about this place where we all live together.

The People Tree makes no distinctions. It is not necessary to trace one's lineage to a piece of that sculpture. In fact, it might be good to take another look at what makes it beautiful--the people are reaching out, not facing in.



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Time for Foolishness

This blog pays frequent visits to locations on the lunatic fringe. There's my advocacy for HiPiHoCo. There's my friendship with GingerBread Girl. I've waxed eloquent about Wacky Wednesdays. I've likened local residents to oddly-shaped grains of sand. It's not all straightforward over here at VG/TS, and I like it that way.

It's no surprise that I jumped on the Col Gateway Twitter account with glee. This is the kind of stuff I live for--local, silly, a little bit mysterious. I love those quirky things that make Columbia and Howard County different, more interesting than our neighbors in Maryland. I've written about our illustrious Colonel twice. (Here and here.) I even had the opportunity to chip in my two cents in Amanda Yeager's Columbia Flier article about the Col Gateway phenomenon.

As you can see, in my second post I suggested:

Okay, here's what I think. It's time for ADG Creative to reach out to Jessie Newburn to arrange to host a local blog party. We've never had an event in the Gateway. What better way to show some love than to bring folks from all over Howard County to socialize in one of the Gateway's fine dining establishments? An event for bloggers will generate social media buzz and blog posts. And, if Colonel Gateway makes an appearance--I think the local press might be interested.

Clearly Col Gateway was way ahead of me on that one. This Wedesday, April 1st, he's having a meet-and-greet in the Gateway at Aida Bistro. And here's Jessie Newburn extending an invitation to the local blog community. Remember, that means both bloggers and their readers, so sign up to attend! There'll be a vintage photo booth, Col. Gateway merch giveaways, and as always, great food, drinks, and conversation.

HoCoHouseHon and I be there, of course. I'm hoping to have my picture taken with another local legend.



Saturday, March 28, 2015

They Grow Up

I have been teaching long enough that my original students are now adults. Young adults, mind you, but adults nonetheless. Many are college graduates. One is married with a baby. One is a professional ballet dancer. I follow their progress on social media. Yes, some people actually "friend" their preschool and kindergarten teachers.


Occasionally I will search around on Facebook to see if I can find former students and see how they are doing. It's so amazing to see how they have grown, what they look like, what studies they have been pursuing. It's also pretty amazing to see how many of them keep in contact with friends they made at the small independent school where I taught them so many years ago.


This week as I lay around in the throes of a head cold, I made another such pilgrimage around Facebook to check on those former preschoolers and kindergarteners. One of them seemed to have disappeared. Well, Facebook isn't as popular as it used to be amongst the young, I thought. So I did a quick search on Google.


And then I saw the words I never thought to see: obituary. He had taken his own life. No, no, no. How could that be true? He was so young. I just wanted to scream out to the universe the wrongness of this. These are not the words that teachers ever want to see. Teaching is both a gift fully in the moment and an investment in the future. And now this beautiful boy's future was gone.


I feel that saying any more about this would be a violation of his privacy and his family's. There is so much I could say but I have an underlying feeling that there's an extremely fine line between acknowledging my personal grief and exploiting this incident for the good of a blog post. And I just can't do that.


As a teacher you must let go year after year. You tell yourself you should get used to it, but part of you never does. A tiny piece of every student stays with you. You can't help but feel a sense of responsibility for what happens as they go forward. You don't expect every child to be brilliantly successful, but you hope they will find joy, meaningful challenges, friends, love, fulfillment.


My heart is heavy. I feel there must be something I should do. But all my years as a teacher have not prepared me for this. Dear Child who was no longer a child--farewell. Your life meant something. The world cannot be the same without your beautiful spirit.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Just Ask

In reading the Blair Ames article about this year's annual educators' survey, I came across this quote from school system spokesperson Rebecca Amani-Dove:


"Without full knowledge of the methodology behind the results including how it was administered, how it was communicated and which research group developed the questionnaire, it is hard to comment on it beyond saying that, ultimately, the results demonstrate everything we expect a union sponsored survey to say," she said in an email.

Wow. Just wow.

First, how many people do you think had a hand in crafting that statement? (You know what they say about the horse, the camel, and the committee.) What a mouthful!

Let's translate.

We don't like the results of this survey, so we are going to say everything we can to discredit the survey, the results, and, ultimately, the teachers' union itself.

School system management actions certainly back up this translation. How much money have they spent purchasing a program from the Gallup organization in order to put themselves in control of the "engagement" narrative? How much time has been spent trying to discredit HCEA President Paul Lemle? How many words have been written suggesting that HCEA doesn't represent "real teachers"? How much effort was invested in trying to unseat Mr. Lemle as HCEA President? (He won, receiving 83.8 per cent of the vote.)


The truth is that it would be incredibly easy for Central Office Management to find out any of the things mentioned in Ms. Amani-Dove's statement. All they would have to do is ask. Just ask. Believe me, if you want information from Paul Lemle, he will tell you. I mean--really--this is a man excited by his job and his mission. He will tell you. Just ask. Suggesting that the information is not available is disingenuous.


The Howard County Educators' Survey predates the current administration. It's not something that Paul Lemle thought up on a whim to make management look bad. It is one piece of the many things that HCEA does to keep in touch with the needs of its members. And it could be an extremely valuable tool in addressing important issues. It certainly has been in the past.


The narrative for improving our schools should be a shared narrative.There are numerous examples of HCEA and various parents' organizations reaching out to work collaboratively with the school system. We need to see concrete examples of the school system truly cooperating with stakeholders, rather than seeking merely to control the message.








Thursday, March 26, 2015

Center Point

Where is the center of town? You know, Downtown Columbia. Is it the Mall? Whole Foods? CA Headquarters? The People Tree? If you read a lot, you may see Central Library as the hub around which other things are placed, whereas if you frequently attend concerts and plays you may think of the Rouse Theater as the center. Swimmers--Splashdown. Walkers--the path around Lake Kittamaqundi. What about Merriweather? Or Symphony Woods?

There was a time when Jessie Newburn of Totally HoCo posited the theory that the Dobbin Road Starbucks was true center. And the homeless and jobless have often planted themselves at the intersection of Dobbin and Route 175. Is that the true center--a highly-frequented center of commerce?

Of course we all know that Columbia was not meant to be a city or town in the old-school, traditional sense. It's not built on a neatly-formed grid with streets running north/south. It's not centered around government buildings like a Town Hall or a Courthouse. No, the New American City was meant to fit in with the natural topography of the land. Roads were meant to encourage curious exploration: the joy of discovery.

Maybe it doesn't matter where the center of town is. Perhaps it's asking an old and outdated question of a New City that was meant to break the mold. But, as long-planned pieces of the Columbia "whole" begin to take shape, even near completion, I wonder if that will change our experience of what the central point is. How will all these entities function together? What new experiences will they create?

Probably the only thing I can say with any certainty is that, if we convened a symposium on "What is the Center of Columbia?", there would be a multitude of loud and impassioned opinions and we would come to no consensus. Ah, Columbians. Bless our pointed heads, we never fall short on opinions. Some see synergy and energy. Some see traffic jams.

So, what do you think? Is there a center of town? Do you think there should be? Does it matter?



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Fever

Oh, Spring, where are you?

I've been home sick since Saturday morning, and not with Spring Fever, mind you, but a real knock-down-and-drag-out head cold. Apparently there was some sunshine Monday on my birthday. I missed it. I crawled out of the house this morning to drive my daughter to school and there was frost on my windshield. Ugh.

It will get better, I tell myself. Spring is just around the corner.

This morning's encouragement comes from blogger AnnieRie, of AnnieRie Unplugged: Life in the Slow Lane. In her post "Spring Visitors" she presents an assortment of places to take visitors from out of town in the Springtime. She gives plenty of choices that show Howard County at its best. Just reading it made me feel a little bit less gloomy.

One of my favorite Spring things is the Lunchtime Concert Series at the Lakefront. It's a perfect time to catch the People Tree in bloom. Do you have any other Columbia-centric Spring traditions? I'd love to hear them.

I can use all the Springtime vibes I can get right now.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How Long?

"How long have you lived in Columbia, Julia?"

Again. Again with the age-old question.

I had expressed a positive point of view about plans for the Crescent neighborhood and I was almost immediately called out for doing so. You can see the conversation here, on the Columbia, MD -- Downtown Developments Facebook page. And you can read about the Planning Board's approval of the plan, plus more in depth analysis.

I have grown more than weary of being asked how long I have lived here. Do you want to know why new people who move to the area don't get more involved? Well, maybe it's because the first time they come to a meeting and express an opinion, someone asks, "well, how long have you lived here?" As though that number alone defines credibility.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

It is the hubris of those who believe that their New American City belongs to only a chosen few, and that it must be protected from outsiders with a zeal reserved for archeological findings and museum collections. And who are the outsiders? Well, use this simple test. Do their opinions differ from yours? Hmm...not good. Ask them how long they have lived here.

It's a slam dunk.

The question we need to be asking is not, "How long have you lived here?" But "How long do we want Columbia to last?" Do we want Columbia to outlive its founders? Do we want Columbia to live beyond its first generation? If so, then it is well past time to give up this litmus test for community participation.

There are better conversations we can have with each other.

  • What made you choose Columbia?
  • What makes you stay?
  • What do you love most?
  • What could make Columbia better?
  • How do you want to be a part of Columbia's future?

Village Elections are coming up on April 25th. Listen carefully to your local candidates. Are they asking the right questions? Are they truly listening to your answers? If you live in Columbia, you have the right to an opinion and a right to be taken seriously by your Village Board members and CA representative. It shouldn't matter how long you've lived here.

You're here. I'm glad you're here. Now, let's get to work.



Monday, March 23, 2015

Can You Handle the Excitement?

I keep coming back to this: Excite Columbia, CA's Citizen's Academy. Thanks to my newly-installed Google search-bot-thingy, I was able to instantly find what I have said in the past. In 2013,

I'm still curious. Imagining this as a party, who will come? What will motivate them? How will CA reach out to the target audience, who are often disengaged from CA and community issues? Will the presentation of information be dynamic and appealing? And what will completing the program give them that they didn't have before? Will they see that and know how to use it?

And again in 2014,

More than anything else, my biggest question is, how do we present something like Excite Columbia so that it reaches new residents and young people?...How do we take that idea and make it "exciting" for children, young adults, and new residents?

Here we are in 2015. CA is about to start a new session of Excite Columbia. I think it is a great concept. But as I look at the pictures that accompany the descriptions at the CA website, something is missing. When I read the words "Excite Columbia", I want to see pictures like this. And this. And this.

The future of The New American City truly depends on young people knowing and caring about what Columbia stands for. That's why I really got excited when I learned of a fascinating collaboration between GT Teacher Michael Hobson (Oakland Mills Middle) and Michael McCall (Inner Arbor Trust).

@ommsgt: #MinecraftEDU students building new #SymphonyWoods design – here's a test build of the new "Caterpillar" feature.

@ommsgt: #OMMS students use #MinecraftEDU to test "Picnic Table" float & underlit features in new #SymphonyWoods design.

@ommsgt: #OMMS Connor, Nathan, Jonathan, Ian test-build boardwalk, "Wondrous Tower" for #SymphonyWoods design in #MinecraftEDU.

I encourage you to do a Twitter search for yourself so you can see the accompanying photographs.

Here we see information sharing, collaboration, creation, and discussion--all centered around a Columbia-focused project. Specifically designed for middle school students. Compared to how CA usually interacts with the public, this is almost revolutionary.

I love it. Which is not to say I "hate" Excite Columbia. Not at all. I think a lot of hard work goes into making that happen, and I think the intentions are good. But, if there were an award for exciting Columbians about Columbia, I'd give it to this Minecraft Symphony Woods project. If we want young people to feel invested in the future of Columbia, let's give them a hand and a voice in building it.

So maybe we need to look at this as lots of small start-ups and collaborations throughout Columbia, rather than something we expect the institution of CA to accomplish. We can grow our own mini-Excites throughout the villages to spread the excitement (sorry) for the next fifty years.

Any proposals?




Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Stuff and Sniffles

I'm taking a sick day--head cold extraordinaire over here.

Two things you should know. Soup R Sundae to benefit Grassroots is today from 12-2. And there's a pie fight going on to benefit Bridges to Housing Stability. If you want to do that you'd better get a move on; you have to show up between 8:30 and 10 am.

More rest, more fluids. And something exciting for tomorrow.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Big Fish

At a PTACHC meeting this Fall before the election, present and former board of Ed members spoke to the group about what makes a good board member. Larry Cohen was easily the most comfortable addressing the group. His personal style was relaxed and humorous. One of his comments stuck in my head. It bothered me, but I wasn't quite sure why.

There are basically just a few reasons people run for the Board of Education, he explained. Either they have an agenda (or "cause"), they have ambition to seek higher political office, or they actually want to do the job in the way it is supposed to be done. It was said in such a pleasant way that one could assume any Board members in the room were of the third category. And well, as to the others, we just weren't going to name names.

Overall, the impression I got from that evening was that Board of Ed members had very little power, exercised their power not through collaborating with stakeholders but by following rules and doing what they were told, and that they had little to no responsibility to their constituents. In fact I got the impression that they didn't think they had constituents at all.

I realize now that what troubled me most about what Larry Cohen said was that he completely ignored an entire category of Board of Ed candidates (and members). They are the ones whose sole desire it is to get power and wield power with very little responsibility to the general public. They are not seeking higher office. They want to be the big fish in the small pond. They will be invited to important functions, have their picture taken with important people, and have their decisions written up in the newspaper.

I think these people are the most dangerous of all.

For one thing, people who think like this never, ever, want to let go of the power that they have and will go to great lengths to hold on to it. This is the top of the heap for them; they are not going anywhere else. Machinations at Board of Ed meetings, behind the scenes, and in the run up to elections show them at their worst. While they may think what they are doing is public service, their actions betray them. This is all about power, self-preservation, and self-promotion. They may not have started out this way, but this is what they have become.

Right now our system protects them. They can ignore letters from the PTA Council of Howard County. They can call parents who disagree with them "selfish". They can intimidate teachers and staff to prevent them from speaking out. They can bully other Board members who challenge their personal fiefdoms. They can belittle parents of special needs children. They can brush aside requests for information from County Council members.

How many other of our local elected officials can behave in such a cavalier manner and still get re-elected?

Guest speaker Stephen Bounds stated that the appropriate way for community members to pass judgement on The Board of Education was to look at how they are voting to spend public money. Are they being good stewards of tax dollars? Period. If you think yes, you vote for them, if you think no, you don't. (In light of this point of view, I think it is interesting that the Superintendent and Board have made access and input into the budget process more and more difficult in recent years.)

Right now we have a school system budget, passed by the Board of Education, which cuts paraeducators and media secretaries and expands the Model School initiative without data to support its expansion. And we have some people in power who don't feel obligated to work collaboratively with the communty. Now what?

This budget must be approved by the County Council and the County Executive. They don't like to meddle in school system matters. I understand that. But what about taking a stand when it comes to supporting the democratic process in Howard County? Does the County Council and County Executive endorse the manner in which budget decisions are being made and constituents are being treated? Do they believe this constitutes the best practices in public service?

I think it is completely appropriate for the citizens of Howard County to ask their elected representatives to address these questions. Does the manner in which the current Board of Education operates serve the public good?

If not--why not?





Friday, March 20, 2015

Style Meets Substance?

So Allan Kittleman has been in office for over a hundred days now, and folks are writing pieces about how he's shaping up as County Executive. Since it hasn't been all that long, we're faced with a limited sampling of what he's actually done, and how he's done it. And for those of us writing opinion pieces, as opposed to journalists, we're also bringing past experiences and preconceived notions into the mix.

My past experiences and preconceived notions prompt me to compare the County Executive I know the most about, Ken Ulman, to the newer model. It's hard to forget Mr. Ulman, after all. He had two terms to work himself into the public consciousness. And he continues to find his way into the news in his new position working with the University of Maryland to make College Park an inviting environment for high tech businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs. Gone but not forgotten. Hardly gone, even.

Ah, Ken Ulman. "Not your father's Oldsmobile," I thought, shaking my head. But wait. So does that make Allan Kittleman--your father's Oldsmobile? Not quite a fair assessment, even for a facile one. Let me back this up a bit.

No, Ulman is more of a Smart Car with Prius intentions. (Or is that the other way around?) There's just no Oldsmobile about him. He sprang into action as County Executive with zest, earnestness and cutting-edge ambitions. You want to get behind the wheel of an Ulman? Be prepared to drive on some new roads.

Now, from what I have seen of Kittleman, the term "Not your father's Oldsmobile" is a better fit for him. Though made from a more traditional mold, he has been willing to push boundaries when it has come to things like the Route One Homeless Shelter. He appears to be relatively enlightened when it comes to LGBTQ issues. But, so far, driving a Kittleman looks like it's going to be a smoother ride. He brings a rather settled gravitas to his role.

No one will be surprised to hear that I miss the excitement and inspired thinking of Mr. Ulman. But I have to acknowledge that there are people out there in Howard County who found the past eight years to be an exhausting ride. They elected Mr. Kittleman, after all. I have no doubt they have found the past one hundred days or so to be restful.

We don't really know yet, do we? A handful of actions, or photo ops, or speeches are not enough to produce anything deeper than a few good off-the-cuff opinions. As time goes on we'll see where this ride is taking us.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend this piece by Jason Booms of Spartan Considerations. He's looking at a decision which may be a strong indicator of where we are headed. In the meantime, Happy Spring! And don't forget to brush the snow off your car when you head out today.




Thursday, March 19, 2015

Making Waves

Did I ever tell you the story about the waterbed? Actually, it's more of a story about me, and the first time I tried to sleep on a waterbed.

It was the 4th of July after a concert and fireworks at Tanglewood and the decision was made to find a hotel and stay put rather than drive back to Connecticut. At check-in, much to my surprise, a choice was offered: regular bed or waterbed? Ooh! I was intrigued.

It was one of the worst choices I have ever made. I hadn't really taken into account that a waterbed moves. And I'm a light sleeper, so every time it moved I would wake up. So, without thinking, I used every muscle in my body to try to control the waterbed so it wouldn't move. It was exhausting. And, when I awoke in the morning, every muscle in my body hurt.

All in all, it was a perfectly dreadful experience--and yet it taught me something: I'm a control freak and I hate change. And, when you think you can take it all on yourself, you will end up exhausted and in pain. You just can't hold that waterbed down.

I learned that waterbeds are not for me. But learning how to deal with change and my inability to control it has proven a much more difficult challenge. Yesterday as I read Tom Coale's "6th Blogoversary" on HoCoRising I felt that familiar pang of anxiety. He writes:

As I start out into my seventh year, I can say there are significant life changes that have already happened, and those still to happen, that will affect what you see here. And frankly, I think I'm almost done.

We all have our little universes that we like to keep in order. Mine is nourished by the work of community activists and the words of local bloggers. My first response: don't mess with my universe! My second response: wow, I am still not very good with change.

I've carried around the story of the waterbed for a very long time. It reminds me to recognize those things in myself and not take myself so seriously. But I realize now that the story is unfinished. The lesson I seem to have learned is: avoid waterbeds. The lesson I need to learn is how to let the waterbed be the waterbed, and to let me be me. Not avoidance, but acceptance.

Change is happening all the time. So my story is unfinished. Oh, yeah. My story is unfinished. That should be a reason to celebrate.

My birthday is coming up on Monday. Here's to a year of loving adventure more and caring about change less. I'm going to be on the lookout for people who can help me along on that journey.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lessons in Humility

Monday I taught four classes with a lesson which had been achieving overwhelming success. But on Monday the results were different. The activities which had enthralled other children were found to be only so-so. The thematic thread, the glue that holds the lesson together--held little interest. It was like herding cats.

"How could I have become such an overnight failure?" I wondered.

All four classes had something in common. I hadn't seen these children for weeks and weeks due to snow days and Monday holidays. They're preschoolers, many with special needs, and their schedules and school time have been disrupted. And into this swirling chaos comes that nice music lady. Who was she, again?

So many factors affect the classroom experience. This article, "8 Myths That Undermine Educational Effectiveness", says it well.

Of course teachers are extremely important. Good teachers make a significant difference in achievement. But research indicates that less than 30 percent of a student's academic success is attributable to schools and teachers. The most significant variable is socioeconomic status, followed by the neighborhood, the psychological quality of the home environment, and the support of physical health provided. There are others, but the bottom line is that teachers have far less power to improve student achievement than do varied outside factors.

My success or failure with my students is strongly influenced by continuity and the relationship-building that it fosters. I can be prepared, enthusiastic, with an excellent lesson and outstanding materials, but that alone doesn't equal success. On any given day there are so many factors that affect my students. Having worked with preschoolers for over twenty years, I maintain the ability to be flexible, switch things up, tailor the lesson to the situation. If you have ever tried to hold the attention of a group of preschoolers, you will know what I mean.

So I'm not going to give up on teaching because I had a bad day. I'm not going to waste more than five minutes thinking, "Why didn't they love that?Everyone else loved that!" I'm going to accept that everyone needs lessons in humility now and then, and that this one may not have been my fault.

I sure hope we don't have any more snow days.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015



Don't Pinch Me

I won't be wearing green today. I might wear orange. I imagine I'll get some comments. "Where's your green?" "Aren't you Irish?"

Yes, yes. I'm Scots-Irish. And my husband is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. But when it comes to Saint Patrick's Day, it's complicated. To begin with, wearing green is a tradition that pays homage to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. And Ireland is not solely a Catholic place. (Wearing orange honors the Protestants of Ireland.) Probably the best solution would be to wear the colors of the Irish flag: green, orange, and white. Green for Catholics, orange for Protestants, and white for the peace between them.

But even that is far too complicated for most Americans who celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. This article from Time describes how a religious observation of Ireland's patron saint became something else entirely.

Does that mean we shouldn't celebrate? No, but it clarifies something most people don't really get: St. Patrick's Day is not an Irish holiday. It's a creation of Irish-American immigrants. And has suffered quite a bit from rampant commercialism, I hasten to add.

When the Irish first came to this country they were greeted with prejudice and exclusion. Newspaper articles and cartoons depicted the Irish as an inferior race: easily excitable, stupid, prone to drunkenness. Signs went up in shop windows to inform job-seekers that No Irish Need Apply. The expression, "The Luck of the Irish" comes from the widely-held belief that the Irish were incapable of great accomplishments, so if they achieved anything out of the ordinary, it was just "luck". "During the heyday of anti-Irish sentiment in the US, the Irish were considered a distinct and inferior race more similar to Africans than to 'proper' whites..." Racism, pure and simple.

Irish immigrants persisted in America despite this despicable treatment. And the evolution of St. Patrick's Day is an expression of their experiences. I do not begrudge them their celebration. But it's not Irish.

Ireland is a beautiful land. The Irish people have a wonderful cultural heritage. Irish traditional ("trad") music is exquisite and Irish food is wholesome and delicious. Irish folk tales arise from a reverence for the land and are full of wonder and humour. Precious little of this comes into play in the U.S..

This is what being Irish is not: desserts with green frosting and Lucky Charms cereal decorations. Shamrock Shakes. Green Beer. Corned beef and cabbage. Excessive public drunkenness. Dyeing rivers green. Rainbow-leprechaun crafts. Kiss me I'm Irish. Little cartoons of leprechauns which are really an Aunt Jemima-esque caricature of the Irish people.

I'm proud of my Irish heritage. I have visited Ireland with my Irish husband and his family, and I hope to return to learn more and experience more. Someday I hope to make that good brown bread or soda farls as well as my mother-in-law. And I'm blessed that I have a husband who can play Celtic harp for me any day of the year.

Enjoy your celebrations today. I won't say a word. Just don't pinch me.








Monday, March 16, 2015

Let's Get Social

"Can I have your email?"

We've grown used to the request in retail establishments as we go through the check out process. I don't always give out my email adress. I'll admit that I find the request somewhat intrusive, but I've gotten used to it, along with the, "Did you know you can save five per cent today if you open a credit account?" question.

Anyway, let's face it, email is so last year compared to social media. Companies want to expand their reach by connecting with you, your family and network of friends and aquaintances. They want to sell you more stuff. They want to find out your purchasing preferences. They want to build brand loyalty.

But not Pearson. The company that produces the PARCC exams used throughout the nation is encouraging students to provide their social media account information for a much more intrusive reason: they want to keep an eye on them. #PearsonIsWatching

That's right. Pearson has partnered with a software company to monitor students' social media accounts, not just during the school day, but afterwards as well. News broke Friday afternoon of a case where a student mentioned a test question on Twitter after school and PARCC responded through the Department of Education (this was in New Jersey) who contacted the school to censure the student. Read the entire story here.

Pearson maintains that it is within their rights to protect the confidential nature of the test. I guess they see it as proprietary information, as they are requiring both teachers and students to sign confidentiality agreements. There's just one problem: children can't be held to confidentiality agreements because they're...children.

I cry foul. (And a whole lot more than that, not printable here.) If you didn't already have deep concerns about how Pearson is making millions on testing and test-targeted curriculm, now is the time to get educated about what is truly going on here. It's not for the good of our schools, or for the good of our children. It's for the good of Pearson.

As a parent and a teacher, I am disgusted by a big company spying on kids. I also find it frightening that we are putting our kids in a "don't tell; its a secret!" situation. We all know that those situations are the hallmark of abuse.

Please write the Howard County Board of Education, the Maryland State Department of Education, and Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education to let them know that spying on children and trying to force them to sign confidentiality agreements is wrong and that you as a parent will not allow it. A company that believes this kind of behavior is appropriate should not be permitted anywhere near our kids.






Sunday, March 15, 2015

Revelation on Route 175

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places
where other people see nothing.

--Camille Pissarro

So we were driving down 175 towards home after a dinner at the Columbia Crossing Maiwand when my husband said, "We're so lucky to live here."

It had been gray and rainy all day and we were on probably one of the most uninspiring routes in Columbia. His comment startled me.

"What made you say that?"

"Because we're so lucky to live here." He paused, as though that needed no explanation. Then he added, "It's safe here. And we have a home. And everything that we need."

Then I thought, not of rainy days and suburban roadways, but of war-torn lands far away, and racism, violence, and hopelessness not so far away. I didn't really enjoy being jolted out of my crankiness, but I acknowledged the truth in what he was saying. We were looking at the same vista and seeing something so different.

What he saw was colored by the wisdom of a grateful heart. What I saw was limited by impatience, frustration, and disappointment. Things and people that could be better. Should be better. But I had to admit that he was right. And this morning when I saw the quote posted above it made me think of that brief exchange on Route 175.

"Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing."

Some people don't think much of the Village where I live, Oakland Mills. Sadly that negative attitude seems to rub off on some folks who actually live here. They believe all the bad press instead of looking around and really seeing the beauty around them. That's why I've been working with a group of friends on the Oakland Mills is Awesome Facebook page--to shine a light on all the beautiful things in our humble place.

Yesterday Daniel Kirk-Davidoff, in discussing his candidacy for the Oakland Mills Village Board, said,

We want to increase and foster and proclaim awesomeness in Oakland Mills.

After a year of negativity and decisions based on negative thinking, our village board truly needs people who see beautiful things in humble places and want to increase, foster, and proclaim them.

We are truly so lucky to live here. I may have needed a reminder last night. We all need a reminder sometimes. Today I'm especially grateful for Oakland Mills friends and neighbors who make this such a wonderful place to live.



Saturday, March 14, 2015


I woke up the morning and heard Spring. Eyes still closed, I could feel the morning light filling the room. I knew that I had slept deliciously late and I wasn't in any hurry to get out of bed. And then I heard it: Spring.

What does Spring sound like? Was it the bird singing? Was it the sound of morning rain? Maybe. It was something about the air. Something different, which transformed all of the sounds--rain, bird, footsteps, cars going by. Something warmer. A feeling of lightness. I got the feeling that something amazing was getting ready to happen.

That's Spring, alright.

In Columbia in Spring we get outside more. Casual pathway users join the year-round diehards as they explore neighborhood nature and visit the tot lots. People tend to their gardens, pull up the junk, buy mulch, start to plant. Oakland Mills Village has a plant sale every year on Election Day. We anticipate the opening of our Farmers Market. The beautiful color and variety of local produce stays fresh in our memory from last year. I can almost taste it.

Around town I imagine it is much the same. Every village has its own way of emerging from the cocoon of Winter. Down at the Lakefront it will be fun to observe the seasonal changes from the cafe at Whole Foods with its wide-open views. It will get warm enough to have coffee and a pastry outside at Le Comptoir. I'm already looking forward to the lunchtime concert series.

Spring gets us out of our homes and into places where we will see each other: village elections, gardening, pathways, markets, cafés and concerts. Hibernation is over. Our neighbors are around us. The open streets beckon. Will we connect or just coexist?

Spring isn't just pretty and mild. It's muddy and messy and changeable. Just like community-building. It challenges us to do things differently from the way we've been doing them. It demands that we really pay attention.

I heard Spring this morning. It said, "get ready."



Friday, March 13, 2015

Uncommon Women

Last night was the induction ceremony for the Howard County Women's Commission Hall of Fame. As uncharacteristic as it may seem, in light of my general dislike of public functions, I not only committed to going--I actually went. I had that little talk with myself in the mirror about walking the walk, and I went.

I went to support my friend Nina, who is the chair of the Commission, and I went to honor Courtney Watson, one of the five inductees. And I went to show my support for these Uncommon Women who have pushed boundaries and challenged the status quo and made things happen in Howard County. Oh, how I wish that they were all bloggers!

It was heartening to see the County Council room packed for an event about women. Every day I read about so many ways, big and small, that women are abused, ignored, harassed, and underestimated. For one night in Howard County, it was all about women. From the students whose essays clearly said, "I am ready," to young women like Nina Basu who spoke of challenges and triumphs, to Courtney Watson who took her moment in the spotlight to say, "I am not finished," to other honorees who were looking back on amazing careers.

In a culture that honors youth and beauty in women, anyone who doesn't fit the mold can find themselves marginalized. Seeing the continuum last night from teen to young woman to young mother to middle-age to retiree, even great grandmother, was inspiring to me. In this room it was not about being thin or pretty, or whether one had married well. It was about who you really are, and what you are doing for others.

How can we, as women, be a strong community for each other? How do we use our voices to support the voiceless? How can Howard County be a place where strong, intelligent, gifted, and giving women want to live and work and make their homes?

The fact that I am waking up today with these questions on my mind is a testament to the County Commission for Women and to the example of the five inductees last night. I thought I was going to honor them. The takeaway is this nagging feeling that my story is somehow interwoven with their story, and that I have a reponsibility to pursue that connection.







Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Bright Spot

I had a bad day yesterday. You know, one of those days where it feels as though the forces of darkness are winning. I went to bed feeling powerless and defeated. As I said rather plaintively on Facebook, "Bad people make me sad."

But here's a ray of sunlight. This video, posted by The Globe and Mail, caught my attention yesterday. It is the story of a man who suffers from focal dystonia and how his life has been transformed through a treatment that involves music and dance.

It's not long. Click the link above and watch it.

As I scanned the comments, two leapt out at me.

Music ..... magic in so many ways.. we aren't even close to untapping its potential.


Thank you for sharing this. The power of music and dance is so healing. I am so happy for this man and others who have discovered that there are alternative therapies to help one heal! It is just sad that many school boards want to get rid of the music curriculum and we all know growing up with it, even if one was not great at it, that it taught us many other and different wonderful gifts we possess. It truly is a healing art! Music is "The Mother Of All Science"!

Even on bad days, the power of good is working somewhere. And we can chose to work with it. To quote a friend, "Have a great day doing what you love."

Some days, that's all there is.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Newspeak in Howard County

Spotted in a teacher's lounge in the Howard County Public Schools:
Rigor = Vigor
Really? Now teachers have to make bulletin boards to encourage eachother to do things they already know to be false? Really?
Do you remember "Newspeak", from George Orwell's novel 1984?

Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as "thoughtcrime". (from Wikipedia)

For a side-by-side comparison on the definitions of rigor and vigor, please look here. One has its roots in death, the other in life. Anyone with basic dictionary skills can work that out. The sign I saw was a part of an ongoing bulletin board project exhorting teachers to ramp up rigor. It made me sad.

And it made me angry. Teachers go to school for advanced training in the field of education, and once they graduate they go to work in a system that treats them like simple-minded children or worse. No wonder fewer and fewer college students are choosing teaching as a career. Who in their right mind would choose a field where there is so little autonomy and respect?

I have enormous respect for the teachers in our school system. We should be treating them as valued professionals and partners in our community life. We should be listening to their ideas, not asking them to commit professional malpractice by forcing them to engage in questionable "Newspeak" and making them focus their efforts around high stakes testing rather than the growth of our children.

When rigor is defined as vigor, and testing is defined as education, we know we have reached an Orwellian state of affairs. Is that what we want in Howard County, a Ministry of Truth?

Meaningful progress comes not from bulletin boards or standardized tests but from partnering with parents and teachers and empowering them to be a part of the solution. I think it's time to ask those in power to go back to school--to listen. And learn.







Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Here We Go Again

Today my daughter will sit for an exam that has no correlation to what she has been learning. She's in GT Geometry, and there's no test for that yet, so she'll be tested on the algebra curriculum she learned two years ago. I mean, they have to take some test, right? It doesn't really matter what, right?

Yesterday I saw a five year old boy sit in a chair while he was assessed by a staff member. He sat, away from his classroom, and the adult followed a script in an even tone, pausing only to mark down his responses. It was an oral assessment of phonemic awareness skills. It seemed to go on a very long time. I found out later that the assessment is given four times in the year, plus a pre-assessment at the beginning. When I talked to the para-professionals later about the assessment, none of them felt it was developmentally appropriate.

Today my husband takes his choral groups to an adjudication. It's an assessment for choirs. There will be ratings, points given and added up, a number given which is supposed to stand for some level of proficiency. For my husband, music is about learning, doing, experiencing, sharing. Ratings and competitions are completely beside the point to him. The growth of his students is what matters.

And, do you know what? I think that most teachers feel this way.

Testing students in something they aren't even learning will not make them college and career ready. Making young children sit still for extended periods to endure inappropriate assessements will not make them college and career ready. College, career, and, let's face it--life are about learning, doing, experiencing, sharing.

Teachers know this. Parents know this.

In his speech in Selma this past weekend, President Obama said,

Because the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word "We." We The People. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can. It is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.

How we educate our children is a task that belongs to everyone. It is not simply in the hands of the Department of Education, or Arne Duncan, or the Superintendent of Schools or the Board of Education. We know better. We must do better.


Monday, March 9, 2015

A Childhood Memory

We went to see "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" at Oakland Mills High School yesterday afternoon. It was a fabulous production, excellent on so many fronts. But I found myself troubled by how clearly depressed Charlie Brown is. Why can't anyone see the depth of his distress? He needs much more than a nickel's worth of Lucy's pseudo psychiatric advice.

It made me think of my own childhood. I often felt like Charlie Brown. And it brought to mind how I struggled with poor fine motor skills--manual dexterity, if you will. It's amazing how much of an impact that had in my overall sense of self-worth. It was a big part of what made me feel like, "I'm not like other people."

Kind of like Charlie Brown.



I see my childhood in my hands. I remember my child-hands so clearly. Small, helpless: they didn't do what they were supposed to do. They struggled. Pale, stubby, awkward hands. And now they are older, more worn and wrinkled, they do more, know more, and yet are still the same. Small, stubby, but not helpless. But the ache of my helpless childhood is in them. I could not do what needed to be done, and I could not stop the big bad things that filled my soul with dread. The fears that crushed me.

I carry around that helpless, broken child. Every day. As I carry and reach, give and receive, help or hurt. My hands tell everything: I couldn't do it. I couldn't hold a pencil well, or cut with scissors. Carry the teakettle, play the piano, put sheets on the bed. I strained and struggled. Everything turned out wrong. I hated my hands. I hated myself because I couldn't get rid of that thing that marked me inadequate. There was nothing to tell me, "I feel strong in myself, I am capable." And nothing to defend from harm.

God gave me these hands, and they could have been lovely hands. Beautiful and beloved, had they only been accepted. And now, so late in time, I try to give them the simple chance to be beautiful. I hold them up in the light and think of good things. Caressing my husband, loving my children, crafting, baking, the dance-like hand motions to so many little songs that make my students smile.

How hard and unending the journey to find beauty in my own creation. Accepting what is. Loving what is.

Bless these hands, Oh Lord. I lift them up in thanks and love.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Missing in Action

Looking for a blog post? Me, too. Whatever that magic thing is that makes blog posts appears to be missing in action this mornng. I suspect it decided to take the day off between two am and one am, if you get my drift.

I'll check back here later, in case it turns up.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday Bulletin

High points, low points, points of interest.

  • Friend, local blogger, and champion of a vibrant Downtown Columbia Kirsten Litkowski-Coombs has been accepted to serve on the Town Center Village Board. Definitely a high point. All of our village boards need more people like her. (Have you turned in your candidate packet yet?)
  • Haven on the Lake is offering free weekly workshops on Wednesdays. I think this is a great idea. Anyone want to go to one with me?
  • Mark your calendars now for "Come Home to Howard County", the largest housing fair in the state of Maryland. This will be the 9th annual Howard County Housing Fair -- Saturday, April 11th from ten am to two pm at Wilde Lake High School, Admission is free to the community.
  • Howard County Mobile Journalism site HoCoMoJo announced yesterday, "Excited to re-launch the HoCoMoJo network on a new platform with a host of new content and features. Look for an official announcement in the coming days!"
  • You can support Bridge Columbia by giving testimony at the upcoming budget hearing on March 10th, or submit your support by email. Learn more.
  • Ian Kennedy of the Horizon Foundation has announced a new initiative: Open Streets for Howard County. I'll be writing more about this soon.
  • In a surprise move, the trustees of Sweet Briar College announced the closing of the college at the end the Spring semester. (Low point) Sweet Briar alumnae have organized and are fighting back to save their beloved school from extinction. (High point) How you can help to save this over a century old institution of higher learning for women? (Point of Interest.)

Have a great weekend. Send me your high points, low points, and points of interest. If you have found a way to turn the Springing Forward of the clocks from a low point into a high point, I definitely want to hear about that.





Friday, March 6, 2015

Iowa Stubborn

Once upon a time, a long time ago, about last Tuesday, I read the news that local writer Lisa Rossi had resigned as News Editor of The American Journalism Review. She has accepted a position at The Des Moines Register in Iowa, as storytelling coach. And that means that she and her family are moving back home, home to Iowa.

I'm going to miss Lisa. To be honest, I have only seen her in the flesh a handful of times, at blog parties and public functions. That cup of coffee at Lakeside I always wanted to have with her never happened. But her presence on the local scene has been significant. I've always known she was destined for great things, but I also hoped I'd get to know her better along the way.

The first time I saw the name "Lisa Rossi" was as the author of articles on Columbia Patch about her impending first-time voyage into motherhood. She arrived here in the summer of 2010, and did some free-lance writing for Patch before the birth of her first son. She began working for Patch full-time in February of 2011.

Ah, Patch. In the blink of an eye it was with us and then gone. When it burst on the scene we thought it was the answer to our hunger for truly local news. We wanted it to be what it turned out that it could not: an intensely local, interactive news hub. For awhile it was just that, thanks to a handful of amazing people. It was our little Camelot of sorts.

Lisa was one of those dedicated and gifted people. She gave Columbia and Howard County her attention and respect. She accepted those of us in The Bubble for who we are, without losing her perspective of the greater world out there--no mean feat.

Although she (and the others) handled many weightier topics, top on my list of the old Patch days is this series on the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie. I don't know why I have become so nostalgic about this. Perhaps it is the easy collegiality between the writers and the idea that investigating our community and what makes it tick can be fun.

Life at Patch turned out to be no milk and cookies affair. But long before the bitter end, Lisa had moved on to a new challenge as News Editor of the American Journalism Review in College Park. She came on staff at a time when AJR was relaunching as a 100 percent digital operation. She drove AJR's social media presence, and she taught journalism students at the University of Maryland. (Somewhere in there she gave birth to her second son.) Times may have changed, but she has consistently moved forward.

Lisa came to town at a time when I was still struggling to find my voice as a blogger. I cared very much about who the Cool Kids were, and was sure that I wasn't among them. Lisa, on the other hand, reached out to me and treated me like someone worth knowing. She shared some of that hyperlocal spotlight and gave me recognition that meant the world to me. In a blogging community that was largely dominated by men, she was willing to listen to everyone in the room. She wasn't just looking for the Cool Kids. She was looking for the best stories.

So, we are all losing something as Lisa goes back to Iowa. But, to be fair, Iowa is a part of what made Lisa who she is. The call of one's early roots is strong: family, memories, treasured haunts. Along with that is the opportunity to pass on her love of storytelling in journalism. It's the chance of a lifetime.

As time goes on, I find myself drawn to making sure that I use this blog to share with other women the recognition that Lisa gave to me. And that is why I wanted to write today and honor her, a truly amazing woman. We'll miss her.




Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Best Man for the Job?

Wading into politics here. Not an expert. This is your typical disclaimer: All opinions here are my own, no one has asked me to say them nor offered me so much as a cup of coffee to hold forth on this topic.


Senator Barbara Mikulski has announced her retirement. And the entire state of Maryland is falling all over itself analyzing the likelihood of who will run to succeed her. I gladly leave the prognostications to others. As for myself, I have one thought in my mind.

It should be a woman.

Don't tell me it should be whoever the most qualified candidate is. Maryland has plenty of well-qualified candidates, both male and female, and I am saying I want to see a woman win it. Not just any woman off the street, for heaven's sake. A well-qualified, constituent-serving, feisty, responsive, ready-for-prime-time woman. And, to be specific, as I am a Democrat, that matters to me, too.

Women are grossly under-represented in government. And their voices need to be heard for our government to truly serve the people. Every day I read a story in the news in which women's rights are under attack. Whether it is reproductive rights, workplace fairness, rape culture, childcare issues, even Gamergate, women are struggling at every turn just to maintain what rights we have now, much less try to move forward in any meaningful way.

Now, what makes Senator Mikulski great is not that she was in politics to serve women. Far from it. She is well known for fighting relentlessly to represent the needs of her constituents. All of them. I'm not saying a man is unable to do that. But a representative government cannot truly be representative when the voices of those who govern are so heavily weighted to one gender alone.

And so I say, the best man for this job is a woman. It should not be difficult to find one. Maryland has scads of talent in this area. Does this mean men should not apply? Hardly. It means that I, personally, could get really excited about the candidacy of a woman for this Senate seat. We just don't have enough people governing who can bring a woman's voice to the table. So many injustices will never be addressed until we do.

How many is enough? Ask the notorious RBG.

Following up, Ginsburg said that she is often asked how many women on the Supreme Court would be "enough."

Her answer? "When there are nine."

"For most of the country’s history, there were nine and they were all men. Nobody thought that was strange," she explained.




Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Separate is Never Equal

The following quote comes from a January 24th, 2015 article on The Hill about the appearance of Dr. Ben Carson at the Iowa Freedom Summit.

Carson also criticized political correctness as he answered a question about gay marriage — and followed up by flaunting decorum with the type of comment that endears him with the base but could hurt his cross-party appeal.

"What I have a problem with is when people try to force people to act against their beliefs because they say 'they're discriminating against me.' So they can go right down the street and buy a cake, but no, let's bring a suit against this person because I want them to make my cake even though they don't believe in it. Which is really not all that smart because they might put poison in that cake," he said to chuckles from some of his staff and dead silence from the journalists in the room.

I've been mulling this one over for awhile. (Obviously.) What are the implications of these words? I have a suggestion for you. (My changes in italics.)

Carson also criticized political correctness as he answered a question about lunch counter integration— and followed up by flaunting decorum with the type of comment that endears him with the base but could hurt his cross-party appeal.

"What I have a problem with is when people try to force people to act against their beliefs because they say 'they're discriminating against me.' So they can go right down the street and have lunch, but no, let's bring a suit against this person because I want them to make my lunch even though they don't believe in it. Which is really not all that smart because they might put poison in that lunch," he said to chuckles from some of his staff and dead silence from the journalists in the room.


Carson also criticized political correctness as he answered a question about Jews who want membership at the Country Club — and followed up by flaunting decorum with the type of comment that endears him with the base but could hurt his cross-party appeal.

"What I have a problem with is when people try to force people to act against their beliefs because they say 'they're discriminating against me.' So they can go right down the street and join a different club, but no, let's bring a suit against this person because I want them to accept me even though they don't believe in it. Which is really not all that smart because they might put poison in their cocktails," he said to chuckles from some of his staff and dead silence from the journalists in the room.


Carson also criticized political correctness as he answered a question about women 's push to integrate the all-male press club— and followed up by flaunting decorum with the type of comment that endears him with the base but could hurt his cross-party appeal.

"What I have a problem with is when people try to force people to act against their beliefs because they say 'they're discriminating against me.' So they can go right down the street and join a women's organization , but no, let's bring a suit against this person because I want them to include me even though they don't believe in it. Which is really not all that smart because they might put poison their water glass," he said to chuckles from some of his staff and dead silence from the journalists in the room.


Carson also criticized political correctness as he answered a question about enrollment of students with disabilities in the public school and followed up by flaunting decorum with the type of comment that endears him with the base but could hurt his cross-party appeal.

"What I have a problem with is when people try to force people to act against their beliefs because they say 'they're discriminating against me.' So they can go right down the street and go to the handicapped school, but no, let's bring a suit against this person because I want them to educate me even though they don't believe in it. Which is really not all that smart because they might put poison their special water fountain," he said to chuckles from some of his staff and dead silence from the journalists in the room.


Funny, huh? Is this the stuff of light-hearted witticisms? Or is it rather the insidious sneer of someone who, asserting he is on the inside, wants to keep others out?

Talk about being on the wrong side of history--Dr. Carson is clearly on the wrong side of civil rights.