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Upcoming Events
Complimentary Reading Screening for Kindergarten-Grade 3 Students McLean School: 11810 Falls Road, Potomac MD 20854,
Apr 13, 2024
Raptors of the Potomac Potomac Overlook Regional Park,
Apr 13, 2024
Dad & Kid Friction Fire and Camping Bretton Woods Recreation Center,
Apr 13, 2024
Couples Yoga Kentlands Mansion,
Apr 18, 2024
THE ART OF ENTERTAINING National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20005,
Apr 19, 2024
Girl Scout Garden Day Carlyle House Historic Park,
Apr 20, 2024
SEEING OURSELVES IN THE RIVER, IN THE MIRROR, IN THE WORLD: DC'S AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERARY HISTORY ON TOUR Cleveland Park Library,
Apr 20, 2024
The Okee Dokee Brothers Center for the Arts at George Mason University,
Apr 21, 2024
Tea & Blooms Kentlands Mansion,
Apr 21, 2024
Camp at My Gym Potomac My Gym Potomac,
Apr 22, 2024
We Heart Harlie and Friends ROCKS with The Jangling Reinharts at Hanover Vegetable Farm 13580 Ashland Rd, Ashland, VA 23005,
Apr 26, 2024
Storytime Saturday/Sábado de cuentos Carlyle House Historic Park,
Apr 27, 2024
I Think I Need Therapy. Now What? Online - Zoom,
Apr 27, 2024
Discover Sandy Spring Friends School at Our Open House SSFS Campus: 16923 Norwood Road, Sandy Spring MD, 20860,
Apr 30, 2024
Florafest Potomac Overlook Regional Park,
May 04, 2024
on the Run Theatre on the Run -3700 S Four Mile Run Drive, Arlington, VA 22206,
May 04, 2024
on the Run Theatre on the Run -3700 S Four Mile Run Drive, Arlington, VA 22206,
May 05, 2024
Momedy Kumite: Mother's Day comedy show The DC Improv Comedy Club,
May 12, 2024
Prince George’s County Bike Summit Creative Suitland,
May 18, 2024
Night Hike and Campfire – Nocturnal Wildlife Potomac Overlook Regional Park,
May 18, 2024
Upcoming events…
 
 

DCUM Weblog

Sekou Biddle: The Best Choice for the At-Large DC Council Seat

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 08, 2012 09:03 AM

Sekou Biddle combines a long track record of successful achievement in education and politics in the District of Columbia with a true commitment to cleaning up government. With a Council that has become little more than a joke due to ethnics controversies, Biddle will help create a government in which DC residents can be proud.

On April 3, the District of Columbia will hold its primary election. In addition to Democratic and Republican candidates for President, DC voters will select candidates for a number of local offices. One of the most important seats being contested is the At-Large DC Council seat currently held by Vincent Orange. Orange is opposed by Sekou Biddle, who briefly held the seat last year, and Peter Shapiro, a former member of the Prince George’s County Council. Two of these candidates are committed to true governmental ethics reform and accountability. Similarly, two of the candidates have the experience in DC politics necessary to challenge entrenched interests. But, only one of the candidates has both experience in DC politics and a commitment to bringing the highest ethical standards to the DC Council. That candidate is Sekou Biddle, who is the best choice to move the city forward.

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Top Topics of 2011

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 22, 2012 04:55 PM

The DCUM Forum topics of 2011 with the most views and responses.

At this time last year I confronted my inability to think of new topics about which to write for this blog. Despite my dislike of end-of-year lists, I decided to write about the most popular DCUM Forum topics of the year. An end-of-year list is the perfect solution for a blogger facing writer's block, but still able to query the forum's database.

The first list is the 10 topics started in 2011 with the most views:

  1. "Nurse-in at Hirshhorn on 2/12 from 10-12" — 17,508 views. Of course breastfeeding, like politics and religion, is a topic you should never discuss with friends unless you want to make them enemies. But, since nobody on DCUM has any friends to begin with, we discuss the topic endlessly. That's even more true when the issue is not simply the benefit of breastfeeding, but the appropriateness of doing it in the middle of an art museum.

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The DCUM Credo

by Jeff Steele last modified Nov 02, 2021 09:02 AM

We have been asked a lot lately about whether DCUM will begin to change. An explanation of our approach to this topic comes from an unlikely source.

My blog post below announcing that Maria is now working on DCUM fulltime elicited a number of questions about expanding DCUM. In addition, a number of good suggestions for ways to enhance DCUM were offered. The comments got me thinking about our approach to growing and developing the website. I realized that while I have had what you might call a "philosophy" concerning how to address growth, I couldn't articulate it very well. Then, I stumbled across an article on a completely unrelated topic that encapsulated my ideas wonderfully.

Before I reveal what we might call the DCUM Credo, let me explain its origins. Some years ago, Maria and I met with an investor who was considering taking DCUM national. In turn, he referred us to a business specialist to help flesh out the business side of the operation. That specialist discussed the strengths of DCUM, the first and foremost of which he called "authenticity". We weren't a "build it and they will come" operation started by a deep-pocketed corporation. To the contrary, we were literally a "mom and pop" outfit being run on a shoestring. We did no advertising, growing purely organically. The investor ultimately lost interest in us, but the importance of "authenticity" to DCUM stuck with me.

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Mary Cheh's Terrible Idea

by Jeff Steele last modified Nov 03, 2011 06:28 AM

Building a new middle school to serve the Palisades would widen divisions in the District, increase inequity within DCPS, and politicize the building of schools.

As reported by Lisa Gartner in the Washington Examiner, Ward 3 Council Member Mary Cheh is drafting a proposal to open a new middle school in her ward. This is a terrible idea that would only exacerbate inequities within DCPS and provoke further division within the City. It would politicize the building of schools, turning institutions of learning into political spoils.

The article states that the school would relieve overcrowding at Alice Deal Middle School -- the Ward 3 middle school that is generally considered to be the best public middle school in the city. However, a closer reading reveals that the school is actually aimed at replacing Hardy Middle School. Hardy has been a source of controversy that may well have contributed to the defeat of former Mayor Adrian Fenty. After former DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee held private meetings with Key Elementary School parents (Key feeds into Hardy), Rhee removed Hardy's long-serving principal Patrick Pope. Pope was very popular with current Hardy families -- many of whom were out-of-bounds -- but disliked by many inbounds families. This fueled allegations that Rhee was attempting to rid the school of out-of-bounds, mostly black, students in favor of inbounds, mostly white, students. The resulting controversy has plagued Hardy ever since and the school has failed to develop to a level acceptable to most inbounds families. Indeed, many current families say the school has gotten worse.

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DCUM: A Hobby No More

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 03, 2012 04:01 AM

For a decade, Maria and I have treated DCUM as a hobby. Starting tomorrow, it will be Maria's Job.

In 2001, I set up a mailing list to be used by my wife, Maria, and a friend of hers for something they were calling "DC Urban Moms". That inauspicious undertaking spawned a hobby of administering and growing both the mailing list and the associated website. For a decade, DCUM has been a side project. It has been something we did in our spare time and mostly for fun. Today, that changed.

Two weeks ago Maria turned in her resignation from the job at which she has worked for the past five years. Today was her last day. She made this move when the two of us could no longer deny that DCUM had outgrown it status of "hobby". Several years ago, the mailing list stabilized at approximately 8,000 subscribers. Members come and members go, but the number of subscribers stays roughly the same. The website, however, has grown massively. Today, a half million people visit DCUM each month. Nearly half of those are return visitors and somewhere in the vicinity of 30% are daily users.

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DCUM Favorite Novels

by Maria S last modified Sep 03, 2012 12:41 PM

Books DC Moms and Dads love to read.

There is a thread in the off-topic forum on this website titled "Best novel you have ever read". Its 16 pages are full of book titles and authors' names. Many classics were mentioned, but there is also plenty of less famous contemporary literature. DCUMs like to read serious dramatic works including mystery, sci-fy, and light "beach reading". It is a fascinating collection of titles and, like many, I'm tempted to go out and get the majority of these books. I think I'm set with this year's reading list. But, I was still curious about which title was mentioned the most. The top vote getter was  "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving with 17 mentions. The next was "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry with 11 votes and third place goes to "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez with 6 votes. The full list ordered by popularity is here.

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The Black SUV: Symbol of Power

by Jeff Steele last modified May 11, 2017 01:00 PM

Roman Senators had their chariots and Soviet officials had Chaikas. US Governmental officials -- including DC Council Members -- demonstrate their importance with black SUVs.

Earlier this week I found myself on a suburban highway during evening rush hour -- an unusual experience for me. Apparently as a result of a car accident, traffic was at a complete standstill. Cars were bumper to bumper, not moving an inch. Then, suddenly, two black SUVs with flashing light bars on top came careening by on the shoulder. I've seen enough of these trucks to know they were not emergency vehicles rushing to the scene of the accident. Rather, they were delivering a government official -- I am pretty sure I know which one -- to his home. I imagined that official, likely full of feelings of self-importance, must feel nothing but contempt for us plebeians stuck there as he passed by. Once again I was reminded that the black SUV has become one of the most noticeable emblems of power in the District.

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Who Remembers EdBuild?

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 03, 2012 04:02 AM

At the time Kaya Henderson was chosen to be DCPS Deputy Chancellor, she was serving on the Board of Directors of EdBuild. What exactly was EdBuild trying to do and what might that say about Henderson?

This week, interim District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson will apparently be named to permanently fill the position. Henderson may well be the best candidate for the job, but Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the legally-mandated selection panel that has held only one meeting, and the DC Council still should properly examine her qualifications and background. One item that might make for interesting questioning is her role in and goals for EdBuild, a non-profit consulting company founded in 2005 on whose board Henderson served.

In 2007 I wrote about test score data that suggested that claims by Michelle Rhee on her resume concerning test score gains by her students were likely not true. My article went unnoticed until recently when another blogger discovered the same data and managed to get coverage of the issue by the Washington Post. But, there was another topic about which I wrote back then that might be of similar interest. That is the improbable rise and fall of EdBuild.

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Mayor Sunshine and Chairman Fully Loaded Win an Election

by Jeff Steele last modified Jul 26, 2011 06:39 AM

Thanks to the two highest-ranking local elected officials, DC political comedy writes itself.

Mayor Sunshine and Chairman Fully Loaded, you've just been elected to replace two of the most competent local elected officials in recent memory (and one of you was even one of them). What are you going to do now?

Chairman Fully Loaded: We're going to Disney World!

Mayor Sunshine: No, no, Fully Loaded. It might snow while we are there. You'd have to be a Republican from New Jersey to do something that stupid.

CFL: Okay, then, we're buying Navigators. One for you and two for me.

MS: That's more like it. Also, we need to concentrate on jobs. Specifically, jobs for the children of my supporters.

CFL: Black Navigators, with black interiors.

MS: We also need to cut the budget. We will do that by paying my appointees a lot more than the former mayor paid those he appointed to the same positions. We'll save a bunch that way.

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Kwame Brown Must Resign

by Jeff Steele last modified Nov 18, 2020 07:43 PM

The revelation that Brown has put the District on the hook for two luxury SUVs costing over $3,700 per month is a betrayal of voters, destroys his credibility to cut DC's budget, and makes him a poster child for Congressional Republicans. The best thing he can do for the City is resign.

While this may be stepping a bit further outside the parenting field than I normally do, it is an issue that affects all DC families. Moreover, what good is a megaphone if you don't use it? To cut to the chase, DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown must resign.

As reported by the Washington Post's Mike Debonis, as Chairman-elect, Brown requested that the City provide him a "Fully Loaded" 2011 Lincoln Navigator L with a black exterior and black interior. A Navigator was procured at a leased cost of $1,769 per month. However, Brown rejected the truck due to its gray interior and lack of a rear entertainment system.

A second Navigator L was then obtained, this one including the rear entertainment system, at a monthly lease cost of $1,963. This one also lacked the required black interior, but did include other options such as a GPS, power moonroof, and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels. The city remained on the hook for the original Navigator, so Brown's leases are now costing taxpayers $3,732 a month. Meanwhile, Brown's purview as Council Chair includes cutting DC's budget to account for a $400 million shortfall.

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