Civics Education Lacking in F.C. City Schools
The best way Falls Church citizens could honor the spirit of the Fourth of July would be to encourage Falls Church City Public School officials to take a serious look at bolstering the role of civic education in Falls Church schools.
I commend the work of Mary Ellen Henderson’s Rory Dippold in implementing a Civics program at the middle school. However, the rest of the school system should take a page out of Mr. Dippold’s book and implement a strong civics curriculum for the whole school system.
The current state of civic education in our schools falls short in two ways. First, our civic education needs to be broader. If knowing the tools of democratic participation is as important as knowing the tools of literary analysis, why is the latter taught for 13 grades and the former is taught for only two? Civic education should be present in every grade’s curriculum and the values of public activism should be engendered across subjects.
Second, our civic education needs to be deeper. Service learning and knowledge of the branches of government is not enough – Falls Church students need to know how to play active and effective roles in our community and democracy. If we can set standards that ensure that every Falls Church student can read, practice the scientific method and understand algebra by the end of senior year, surely we can set standards that ensure that every student can file a Freedom of Information Act request, hold a press conference, build a coalition group, utilize their civic imagination, and identify and actively take on community problems by graduation day.
Our schools should not only train students for their role in our economy – they should also help develop students’ public spirits and empower them for their role in our democracy. A good place to start the Falls Church civic education renaissance would be to ask the school board and Superintendent Berlin to initiate an official comprehensive review of the current state of civic education in Falls Church schools. If they were to do that, it would be a first step towards ensuring that all Falls Church students could play active roles in our democratic community. Now what’s more patriotic than that?
New Recycling Bins Too Big For Many in F.C.
Most people agree recycling is a good idea, but a number of Falls Church residents do not want the proposed 65-gallon carts because they are so large that many do not have a convenient place (or for that matter any place) to store these carts out of sight, and because the current green recycling bins are adequate for their needs. With the exception of the medically disabled, the City has taken an all or nothing approach on this issue; however, many believe the City should reconsider its position.
An easy solution would be to allow residents to choose whether to continue with the current green recycling bins or take the new carts (residents were given a choice on the trash carts, and even the smaller 35 gallon carts are going to be problematic for residents who live in older homes with one car garages). Adopting a more flexible approach has a number of advantages and would insure that recycling continues to move in the right direction, namely forward.
GMHS’s All-Night Graduation Party a Success
The 22nd annual George Mason High School All Night Graduation Celebration for the Class of 2010 is a wonderful memory thanks to the support of many Falls Church businesses, community members and hundreds of volunteers. One of the highest risk nights for a teen is graduation. Our students attend parties throughout the year, but peer pressure is highest when there is an event this momentous to celebrate. The ANGC is a drug and alcohol-free event held the night of graduation that gives every graduate a safe place to celebrate.
The ANGC committee would like to thank all of the local businesses that support this worthy cause. Many were listed in last week’s Focus section of the News-Press, but that list is far from complete. Please visit our web site http://fcva.me/9NnsMQ and view the entire list of donors. When you frequent their establishments, thank them for supporting our schools and our graduates. They donate because they care about our community and the ANGC would not be possible without them.
Again, a heartfelt thank you to all who supported the Class of 2010. Go Mustangs!
Chair, 2010 GMHS ANGC
Besen’s Use of ‘Make-Believe Word Homophobia’
“Anything But Straight”: really? Anything? And why is it OK to publish a column by that title when an “Anything But Gay” columnist would be run out of town on a pole?
But, I digress. I found Mr. Besen’s most recent column, “The Movable Middle,” to be internally contradictory. He protested the use of that benign “misnomer” phrase by his own gay and lesbian movement, which having coined it, can define it however it wishes, yet perseverates in the repeated use of the make-believe word “homophobia.” Mr. Besen does not have the liberty to define this however he wishes, because “phobia” means a particular thing, as any first year psychology student knows. One is not “homophobic” (“a moral evil”) in the same sense as arachnophobia, for example, so find a better word, please.
Of course we know what Mr. Besen means. In this one article, people who don’t believe as he does are referred to as: fence-sitting heterosexuals; people who haven’t thought through LGBT equality or do not see how it impacts their lives; extremists; fanatics; zealots; oleaginous (look it up, I had to); fanatical; medieval; radical; bigots; anti-gay zealots; deranged; mad; foes; losing grasp of reality.
And I guess this diatribe brings me full circle to my first paragraph.
Via the Internet
Thank You for a Successful Tinner Hill Blues Festival
The 17th annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival was a huge success! Every affair; from the State Theater concert with Chuck Brown, Bobby Parker, Nadine Rae and comedienne Nicky Sunshine to the Creative Cauldron theatrical production “Tinner Hill: Portraits in Black and White” was a phenomenal success. Laura Hull completed a year-long collaboration with Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation (THHF) to create a thought provoking production! A panel discussion took place for those who like a cerebral event, followed by workshops for kids and an international line up of fabulous blues acts in Cherry Hill Park. A brunch jam at Bangkok Blues on Sunday was well attended.
Thanks to all who helped plan this four-day affair – especially my wife, Nikki Graves Henderson, director THHF, my family, THHF board members, the hard working planning committee; Mary Lynn Hickey, Lindy Hockenberry, Judy Jensen, Mary Kneiser, Rita Mansfield-Green, Postmaster Donna Bradley, Barb Cram, Shareem Smith and Dan Greenwood. Because of them everything ran smoothly. Thanks to the 40 individuals who gave of themselves to make this event a success and our city staff, Howard Herman, Jenny Elmore, Butch Goff and crew!
Thank you to our loyal sponsors and local businesses, plus new supporters of the Blues Bus, Blues on South Washington and the Blues Master BBQ cook off! Thanks to the community and visitors from North Carolina, Wisconsin, Tenn and Maryland, who ventured into our “Little City” to enjoy a weekend of music, history and culture.
It will be difficult to surpass what we did this year. Unfortunately, the quality of festival that we put on this year is unsustainable at the current level of support. Over the next year we will be exploring ways to make the 18th Blues Festival doable; without a major sponsorship stepping forward, this was likely the last free festival.
Edwin B. Henderson, II,
President, Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation
Letters to the Editor may be submitted to [email protected] or via our online form here. Letters should be limited to 350 words and may be edited for content, clarity and length. To view the FCNP’s letter and submission policy, please click here.