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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Dec 13, 2023 10:59 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included suing Callie Oettinger, Caps and Wizards moving to Alexandria, college professors failing to provide time accommodations, and a white elephant gift that wasn't so funny.

The most notable aspect of yesterday's most active threads is that the Gaza war thread fell all the way to 9th, the lowest it has been since October 7. So, interest in that topic may finally be waning. The most active thread was titled, "Can I sue Callie Oettinger?" and posted in the "Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)" forum. In early November, one of the threads I covered in this blog was about a breach of Fairfax County Public Schools data security. This was not a hack. Rather, Callie Oettinger, a FCPS parent, had gone to her children's school to examine their records. She was inadvertently provided with a thumb drive that had confidential records of over 170,000 students and employees. Oettinger's reaction was to publish this data which contained private details related to special education services that have been provided to children in partially redacted form. Her redactions were apparently not sufficient as the original poster of this thread is asking whether she can sue Oettinger for wrongfully publishing her child's personal health information. As in the original thread about this topic, most of the discussion focused on the ethics of Oettinger's publishing the data. While posters recognize that the original mistake lies with FCPS, and several hope that there will be accountability for that error, most of those responding are more angry with Oettinger. In their view, an FCPS employee made an error, but Oettinger's decision to publish the data was clearly intentional. Moreover, they are concerned about what else Oettinger may have done with the data and with whom she may have shared it. The overwhelming opinion is that once Oettinger realized that she had been wrongly provided sensitive data, she should have returned it to the school and deleted all copies in her possession. A number of posters express interest in joining legal action against Oettinger. The thread appears to have been started coincidental with letters being sent to the parents of children whose data was wrongly provided to Oettinger. Many of the posts, therefore, are from parents just learning about the disclosure and using the thread as an opportunity to absolutely fume at Oettinger. There are also a number of posts, especially later in the thread, that advocate that instead of directing their anger at Oettinger, those parents focus on ensuring that FCPS implements more effective data and privacy controls. Several posters want to do both. Despite the eagerness among many posters to initiate legal action against Oettinger, a number of posters contend that she has not violated any laws and that there are no valid grounds for a lawsuit.

The next most active thread was the one I've already discussed about Maury Elementary School. That thread is rivaling the Gaza war thread for longevity among the most active threads. After that was a thread posted in the "Metropolitan DC Local Politics" forum and titled, "Wizards and Caps could be moving to Potomac Yard". The original poster linked to a Washington Post article breaking the news that Ted Leonsis has been in talks with the Commonwealth of Virginia and the city of Alexandria to build a sports complex in Potomac Yard. This would result in Leonsis moving the Wizards and Capitals, two sports teams that he owns, to Virginia. This would be a significant blow to Washington, DC as the Capital One Arena, the team's current home, has been an important entertainment anchor for the District's downtown. Many of those responding are not happy with this potential change, arguing that the current location is very convenient and that they would have no interest in going to Potomac Yard. Many posters who live near the proposed development are unsure if this is the best idea due to concerns about traffic on Route 1. Other posters are mostly intersted in placing blame. In that regard, they point fingers at DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and members of the DC Council. Several posters focus on crime — a topic that has dominated the local politics forum for months — and blame rising crime for causing the move. Those posters focused their anger on left-leaning members of the DC Council who they consider soft on crime. However, one of the most frequent targets of those critics, Charles Allen, has been a leading Council advocate of retaining the Wizards and Capitals. Conversely, those most responsible for negotiating with Leonsis, Bowser, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and Committee on Business and Economic Development Chairman Kenyan McDuffie, have all been heavily backed by DC's real estate and business community. Bowser and Mendelson rushed out a last minute proposal offering a half a billion dollars worth of incentives to keep the teams in DC, but it really appears that it was the allegedly "business-oriented" politicians rather than the progressives who dropped the ball here. Several posters are convinced that this is nothing but a publicity stunt aimed at providing leverage for Leonsis in his negotiations with the DC government. But, with tents already set up in Potomac Yard and a press conference scheduled for today, this would be a very aggressive stunt.

Next was a thread titled, "Feel like I need to babysit my professors so I get my extra time accommodation". This was originally posted in the "Off-Topic" forum but I moved it to the "College and University Discussion" forum since it dealt with a college issue. The original poster apparently has been provided extra time for tests as an accommodation for a disability. However, as she complains in this post, every semester her professors fail to provide for that extra time, requiring her to contact them and make arrangements. This has happened again as she is preparing for finals and involves a professor who has always taken a long time to respond to emails. While venting about that professor, the orignal poster complained that the instructor prefers to be called "Dr." while her other professors are more casual, some even asking to be called by their first names. As a result, almost as much discussion is devoted to how the professor should be addressed as there is to the issue of time accommodations. In fact, maybe even more. While some posters see the professor's request as pretentious, others believe it is completely appropriate and several are critical of the original poster for making an issue of it. Most posters agree that the original poster's accommodation should not be overlooked, but many argue that it is her job, rather than the professors', to make sure that it is provided. There are several comments about college not being high school. A poster who is also a college professor explains that classes she teaches have a large number of students requiring accommodations and, while she does her best, it is very hard to keep track of all of them. Other posters feel strongly that the college should have systems in place to ensure that professors are aware of accommodation needs and prepared for them rather than making this the students' responsibility. Another off-topic discussion developed around the subject of accommodations more broadly. Some posters were concerned that those who receive accommodations in college would also expect them when they enter the workforce. Some of these posters contended that accommodations might be doing students a disservice by not preparing them for a world where such accommodations probably wouldn't exist. One poster even criticized what she called "woke extra time accomodations [sic]" as "destructive". Debate about this ended up mostly taking over the thread.

The next most active thread was another one that I've already discussed, the one about Elise Stefanik and the Ivy League presidents that has been hanging around the most active list for a while now. I'll skip that one and, therefore, the last thread about which I will talk today was one posted in the "Off-Topic" forum. Titled, "Mean gift or funny? (White elephant)", the original poster composed a quite lengthy post saying that her 22-year-old daughter who is working in her first post-college job participated in the company's "white elephant" gift exchange. She ended up with a large broken CRT computer monitor that had been provided by the company's "IT guy", which he thought was hilariously funny. However, the original poster's daughter obviously had no need for the monitor and the original poster eventually paid to dispose of it. She thinks the IT guy was a jerk for giving this gift. Basically, this thread did not go well for the original poster. Many, a great many in fact, posters were critical of the original poster for being a "helicopter parent" and not making her daughter take care of disposing of the monitor. Others were critical of her daughter for not standing up for herself. A number of posters suggested her daughter should have just left the monitor and not brought it home. Some thought the monitor was a funny gift and blamed the original poster and her daughter for not seeing the humor. The original poster fell into a sort of DCUM trap that frequently exists. If a poster does not provide enough details in a post, they get criticized for not providing enough information. If they provide a lot of details — like this poster did — they are accused of overthinking, overreacting, taking things too seriously, and so on. As the original poster pointed out in a follow-up post, sometimes you can't win. Making things worse for her, despite the significant amount of details she initially provided, she seemed to have missed the things about which posters really wanted to know. So, she caught it from both sides. At any rate, this thread would be half its length if I removed the posts from posters making a big deal out of telling the original poster that she should not make a big deal out of this.

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