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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Jan 18, 2024 11:20 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included Kate Middleton, another MCPS snow day, the proposed Maury-Minor partnership, and the plight of boys.

There are very few topics that can produce 40 pages of posts in less than 24 hours, but the British Royal Family is one of them. As a result, the most active thread yesterday was titled, "Kate Middleton in Hospital - Recovering from Surgery" and posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum. This thread was started after news that Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, had undergone planned abdominal surgery and would be recovering in the hospital for the next 10-15 days and then would be at home until after Easter. Anyone even remotely familiar with this forum's obsession with British royals would know that this lack of detail was simply not going to be acceptable to BRF fanatics. Indeed, the same posters who have previously been experts in the intricacies of British tabloids, domain specialists on the topic of royal ancestry lines, authorities on royal protocol, and more familiar with the inner thinking of Harry than Harry himself, instantly anointed themselves experts on abdominal surgery. To say that speculation ran rife about what treatment Kate had undergone is a bit like saying that water flows over the Niagara Falls with some alacrity. It's true, but doesn't really do reality justice. I am fairly certain that there is not a single malady that could conceivably affect the abdominal region that was not authoritatively described as the reason for the operation. But, because many of the posters are wise enough not to accept a royal statement at face value, speculation did not stop with Kate's torso. Indeed, these posters, who are smart enough to know a ruse when they see one, adamantly declared that the whatever was going on, it had nothing to do with an abdomen and, for that matter, likely had nothing to do with surgery. Countering these suggestions, other posters put forth that non-surgical healthcare could more easily have been explained away by a lengthy vacation or something other than a hospital stay. Therefore, actual surgery must have been involved. Adding fuel to the fire was news that King Charles would also enter the hospital for prostrate treatment. This put William, Prince of Wales, in a bit of a pickle. Should he step up in place of his father and show leadership or should he be home with the kids while Kate is hospitalized, acting as the caring husband and father? Posters were divided and arguments were presented for both options. The best comment in the thread was one saying, "If there was a world cup of speculation, DCUM team would bring some sort of honorary medal for sure." My only disagreement is the suggestion that the medal would solely be "honorary". Certainly, the DCUM speculators would achieve a silver, if not a gold medal.

Imagine that a forum has a 28 page thread about snow days and you want to write about snow days? What is the best and most appropriate action? Well, if you are a participant in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum you might ignore the existing thread and start a new one titled, "Another snow day!". Even better, the entire text of your post might be "Great." There would be no need to provide a link showing that schools had been closed or to provide any additional information. Seriously, there was no need because that single-word post was enough to produce a 24 page thread in less than a day. As is to be expected when any weather-related issue comes up in the MCPS forum, few are happy (the original poster being an obvious exception). Some posters think the decision was made too late, others think the decision was wrong. Posters debated whether travel conditions warranted school closures with many arguing that they did. Some posters argued that a failure to clear school parking lots of snow was another indication of MCPS's incompetence. This appears to be another case of MCPS's large geographic area working against it. While posters in some parts of the school district reported that roads were fine and getting to school would be no problem, others said that their streets were sheets of ice and that they couldn't go anywhere. Many MCPS students get to school on buses and some posters expressed concern about children waiting at bus stops in the cold weather. One poster expressed concern that anyone wearing a Canada Goose jacket to protect from the cold would be mugged and have their jacket stolen. Closing schools to protect Canada Goose owners is certainly a novel concept, but I'm not sure that's what happened here. Other posters were concerned about what the closure would mean in terms of make-up days. The number of days that schools are closed for other reasons is already controversial within MCPS and weather-related closures only add to the contention. Because other school systems in the area did not close, some of the MCPS posters were feeling a bit self-conscious with a few even reporting that they had been teased by colleagues due to the frequent MCPS school closures.

The next most active thread was another school-closing thread, though one that I've previously discussed and which posters continued to extend rather than ignoring and starting another. I'll skip that one, which means the next thread is one titled, "New opposition petition to the Maury-Miner boundary proposal from DME" and posted in the "DC Public and Public Charter Schools" forum. This topic involves a proposal by the District of Columbia Deputy Mayor for Education to "pair" two District of Columbia Public Schools elementary schools with each other. The schools in question, Maury Elementary School and Miner Elementary School, are only a half-mile or so apart, but have stark differences. While only 12% of Maury students are "at-risk", 64% of those at Minor have that designation. In addition, there are racial differences with Black students making up 80% of Miner's student body, but only 21% of Maury's, where nearly 60% of the students are White. I locked a previous thread on this topic after it grew increasingly hostile and deluged by racially-insensitive posts. One poster reported the previous thread had been discussed at a school meeting and brought some members of the audience to tears. Hopefully this thread will not follow the same course. The DME proposal is to partner these schools, combining the student bodies. Younger grades will be at one of the current buildings and older classes the other. There is very strong opposition to this proposal and this thread was started to draw attention to a petition that opposes the idea. However, other parents support the pairing of the schools and a second petition has been started to support the proposal. Currently, the opposing petition has 170 signatories while the supporting petition has 163. The Parent Teacher Associations of both schools have also drafted a joint letter expressing frustration with the proposal and asking for alternative suggestions for achieving the desired goals. The main point of contention is whether combining the two schools will actually lead to improved outcomes. Those in favor argue that spreading at-risk students around will make it easier to support their needs. Those opposing contend that there is no evidence to support this argument and that DCPS has been unable to provide successful examples of such partnerships. The problem DCPS faces is that if it fails to convince Maury parents that the proposed merger will not negatively impact their chilren's school experience, those parents will leave and both schools will end up with higher percentages of at-risk students. Whether DCPS has the accumen to finesse this situation successfully is extremely doubtful based on my experience with the school system.

Next was the Gaza war thread which I've discussed previously and will now skip. That leaves the last thread that I will discuss one that is posted in the "General Parenting Discussion" forum. Titled, "Boys are not all right", the orignal poster quotes from a Forbes article that describes research showing that "Girls are outperforming boys at all levels of education from kindergarten to college". DCUM has a well-educated audience and our users are generally fairly stringent in their demands for data supporting an argument, particularly where education is concerned. But, this thread is an exception. The study in question was conducted in the United Kingdom and has no apparent relevance to the United States. But, I don't think anyone gave any scrutiny to the study at all. Instead, posters debated from the standpoint of their own experience or preconceived notions. There is a huge contingent of individuals convinced that feminism has destroyed men. One poster writes, "For the last 50 years feminists have attacked men and brainwashed the entire education system to teach in styles that pretty only cater to females." The poster goes on to say, "They also drug boys at way, way higher rates due to 'behavioral' issues and for having 'ADD' when all they are are boys who cannot learn in a female dominated learning environment designed to teach girls only." Another poster argued that boys really aren't suffering and presented data showing that "There are more genius level IQ males than females. Females are just better at conforming and doing schoolwork." A number of posters contended that regardless of how girls perform in school relative to boys, men still run the world and hold the bulk of the power. Therefore, they don't consider any setbacks that boys may be facing to be significant. I didn't really want to read this thread in the first place but tried to force myself to for purposes of this post. However, I fairly quickly had to stop because of the silly posts being made on both sides of the argument. The thread is full of every stereotype you can imagine involving boys, girls, men, and women. As if the thread could not get even more ridiculous, posters even managed to work former United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson into the conversation.

Anonymous says:
Jan 18, 2024 08:57 PM
Always hilarious that FCPS and MCPS went in opposite directions on closing yesterday, and no one was happy anyway. While MCPS was trying to keep kids wearing Canada Goose gear from getting mugged, FCPS was actively trying to get their kids and bus drivers killed. Or so I hear.
Anonymous says:
Jan 18, 2024 11:38 PM
You always crack me up, Jeff! Thank you!
JF says:
Jan 19, 2024 09:18 AM
While I think the "boys" thread got detailed, I think the criticism that the study is only UK-based is disingenuous. There's a lot of similarity between UK and American culture and honestly, there's no reason why those findings wouldn't carry over, especially since the large and broad claims about college completion and school performance are established and uncontroversial here in the US, at least in my experience.
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