» This Story:Read +|Talk +| Comments

Post Magazine: Washington's Future

2025: Imagining Washington's Future
2025: Imagining Washington's Future (Peter Bollinger)

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
Marc Fisher, Washington Post Columnist
Monday, April 28, 2008; 12:00 PM

What will Washington look like in 2025? How will we work, travel, live?

This Story

Metro columnist Marc Fisher picked some of the best brains in town to write an account of the next 17 years. He was online Monday, April 28 to discuss his Washington Post Magazine cover story: "Washington's Future."

Fisher writes a column for the Metro section and a blog, "Raw Fisher."

A transcript follows.

____________________

Marc Fisher: Welcome aboard, folks, and thanks for reading the Washington 2025 scenarios. Predicting the future is a fool's errand, of course, so what your professional futurologists do is to try to avoid predictions and instead focus on scenarios, using a combination of knowledge about what innovations are in the works and a study of current social and economic forces to map out contrasting projections and build them out into stories about where we might be headed.

In creating the two scenarios in Sunday's Magazine, we reached out to experts and insightful generalists from as many aspects of life as we could try to shoehorn into our conference room. I wrote a couple of draft scenarios and sent them out to our panels, who then came together and ripped apart those initial ideas. The scenarios in the Magazine are the result of all those conversations, as well as reporting on a host of trends in the Washington area. I have read through so many studies on where we're heading in the economy, education, jobs, traffic, social relations, media and so on that I hope you'll forgive me if what I really wanted to do was to construct a scenario that would envision the elimination of studies and reports.

The idea all along was to create an optimistic scenario and a pessimistic one. Some of you believe we failed miserably at that, producing instead two more or less equally dystopic visions of the next reality. We can get into that, as well as your other thoughts and comments, over the next hour. Please come ahead with your criticisms and additions, as well as your own visions for any aspect of Washington life in 2025.

_______________________

Falls Church, Va.: Thank you for your article. I am sure that it was very labor-intensive to research and synthesize the information that you gathered.

I found both scenarios to be incredibly depressing, dystopian visions for the future. They were so bleak that I could hardly continue to read, as I thought about the lives that my children might be leading then.

How ironic that the nostalgic longings of the Ververs and the Pineiros -- running around free in neighborhoods, exploring woods, connecting to the community -- exactly match those of today's adults. Those are all things that many today remember from their past (myself included -- I am 39 and grew up in the 1970s and 80s in the Washington area) and worry that their children are not experiencing the same joys. I suppose that means that things are not so bad today, or that those fictional characters misremembered their childhoods!

Speaking of fictional characters, was there any intentional allusion to the Ververs from Henry James's The Golden Bowl in your piece?

Marc Fisher: Thanks very much. Interesting--my kids also found both scenarios too depressing. But I thought the Ververs found a way to reach out to others and seek to restore whatever community was lost as virtual life pushed out some of the face-to-face contact that had been at the core of our daily lives. Well, you're far from alone in finding that first scenario to be dystopic, as we shall see in the next few comments.

(And no, I have never read that James, so I'm afraid the Ververs weren't the reference you were hoping for. Sorry!)

_______________________

Fairfax, Va.: Just wanted to toss my two cents and say I think there was way too much focused on the doom and gloom and too much weight given to recent events in the predictions

As a 20-something who can remember 1991, it strikes me that 2008 is fairly similar. The main changes of course being the Internet and general communications and a shift from the cold war to the "war on terror". Our daily routines are essentially the same except for some technological timesavers which actually aren't even necessary when you think about it.

I think that 2025 will have more in common with 2008 and even 1991 than what your experts predicted.

Marc Fisher: You're absolutely right and generally quite safe in predicting that 2025 will be much more like life is today than like any futuristic projection. We tried to keep that basic rule in mind throughout the reporting--the future, especially the near future, doesn't change nearly as much as we might expect it will.

But I do differ with you on the contrast between today and 1991. Life has changed in some elemental ways. Technology is not the time-saver that it is often touted to be, and goodness knows all the hooha about how the Internet was going to bring us world peace, togetherness, a more perfect Union, and a better mousetrap turned out, inevitably, to be hokum. But we lead different lives, most of us--faster, less contemplative, more impatient, with more choice and more individualization. The very concept of mass media is very much slipping away. People relate to each other in different ways. Rituals of dating and mating have shifted. So it seems fair to look forward and wonder how those changes may play out.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: I respectfully dissent from the notion that D.C. would ban fried foods. Or in your mind did every square foot of D.C. become yuppie land?

Marc Fisher: I struggled over that one. You're of course right that the District is very much two cities, and perhaps the model to look at there is the battle that was waged in Washington some years back over whether to institute a bottle-return law. The environmentalists--overwhelmingly white liberals of the sort who are these days agitating for legal prohibitions against transfats and the like--faced off against an anti-bottle bill coalition led by black churches. The bottle bill died.

But the District's population has shifted since then, and my bet is that a bottle bill would pass today. The 2025 analogy is the banning of fried foods--a bit hyperbolic perhaps, but hey, we were also trying to have some fun here.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: Thanks for the fascinating, though somewhat depressing, article on the future of Washington.

I was surprised that some experts think that the trend towards the privatization of transportation will continue that long. I would imagine that by 2025 citizens would be as sick of private toll roads and transportation as they were of O. Roy Chalk's D.C. Transit in the 1960's.

Also, I loved that both scenarios assumed that the dominance of Wal-Mart would continue. It made me think of the trip to the space station in "2001: A Space Odyssey," which assumed we would be flying on Pan Am spacelines and still eating at Howard Johnson's restaurants.

Marc Fisher: Well, 2001 got one of those basic ideas right, in that the McDonalds model did prevail, even if it did also morph into a more upscale business such as Starbucks.

The retailing experts we talked with seemed very wary of predicting any bad news for a juggernaut such as Wal-Mart, even though it's clear that WM has tapped out the easy markets and now must grapple with how to shoehorn itself into urban areas and other places where one size doesn't fit all. So I tried to work with that idea--what would the next phase of the big box/Wal-Mart idea be, and how would it fit in with the trend toward experiential retailing that we're already seeing spreading quickly?

On privatized transportation, the driving force is the extraordinary expense of building any infrastructure--a cost structure that is extremely unlikely to find relief anytime soon. Add the extreme difficulty of reaching political consensus on any transportation issue (look at the death of the Potomac River crossing concept and the uncertainty around rail to Dulles and the essentially frozen road system in northern Virginia) and that's why privatization seems the only politically viable path forward.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: I will admit that I have not had time to thoroughly read your article yet. But, as some one who has been very depressed recently by the state of the world, I think you are probably on the right track. I don't think most people in this country have any idea how bad the economic meltdown that is looming over us is going to be. Between that and the current food crisis around the world we are all in for some very trying times.

Marc Fisher: I didn't really get into the food crisis much in our scenario, in part because in this affluent region, that wouldn't be as much of a factor as in much of the world, and in part because neither I nor any of our panelists saw this coming this quickly.

But we did try to grapple with energy issues and they're very much on a parallel track with the food question. If the scenarios seem too pessimistic, that was driven in large part by the lack of any belief that we are heading toward a technological breakthrough or other improvement on the energy front.

_______________________

Herndon, Va.: Frankly I'm surprised at how unimaginative futurists can be. If you go back and read stuff from the 50's and 60's, they all assumed that the cold war would go hot, and we'd be dealing with the consequences of a superpower nuclear exchange. Now all scenarios assume either terrorist or ecological catastrophe. Maybe, just maybe, things will work out OK?

Marc Fisher: You will win many a lunch by betting on things either staying the same or working themselves out. There are not a lot of dramatic changes or events in our scenarios because, well, through the vast majority of history, you just don't get dramatic change in 17 years. We happen to have just lived through an unusually busy and life-altering couple of decades (fall of the Berlin Wall, end of Soviet communism, a wave of revolutions, a morphing of terrorism, the technological changes we discussed earlier), so the odds are that we'll drift into a quieter period.

Big problems have a way of becoming irrelevant, or at least of coming to seem less threatening. Nuclear war is still very much a threat, but it's way, way back burner compared to the hysteria that surrounded it in the 1950s and 60s. Will the same thing happen with regard to terrorism a decade or two from now? That would seem to be the pattern.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: Is it fair to assume that the massive concern affecting development in both cases was the nuclear attack?

Marc Fisher: One big lesson from 9/11 is that terrorism is not necessarily bad for property values. In fact, Manhattan and the District and its close-in suburbs are doing vastly better than more distant suburbs of both cities in this real estate downturn. So, should we conclude that antipathy toward commuting and the desire to be in an urban center trumps fear of terrorism and the possibility that properties could be rendered worthless?

_______________________

Alexandria, Va. - OUCH!: Marc -

I've just got to say it: Really depressing, startling story.

Do you really think that we should expect the kind of long-term sense of community which have developed in so many inside-the-Beltway localities (Alexandria, Arlington, Takoma, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Dupont Circle, etc.) to simply come to an end within the generation?

And would real, hard, significant investment in region-wide transit and Metro-extension help prevent the kind of white-collar-1984 future you foresee?

Marc Fisher: I doubt we will see the end of tight neighborhoods and deeply rewarding community in the next generation, but we are already seeing a serious divide between two types of communities--old-line suburban and urban communities such as the ones you mention that maintain their old-fashioned rituals of block parties, neighborhood pools, hanging out on the porch and so on, even as we have more and more new places that tend to attract transient families (at every income level) and that feel anonymous and disconnected. That latter category is poised to expand considerably because that's where the growth has been over the past couple of decades. So our development choices will very much determine which kinds of community we foster--if development is focused on in-fill and urban density, you'll see more of one kind of community, whereas if economic forces push greater sprawl, you'll see the other kind of community.

_______________________

Greensboro, N.C.: Some of the wording in this article, and indeed large parts of the scenarios, make it seem as if this article is written more to scare people than to present a vision of the future. Are these worst-case scenarios, or is our future really that bleak?

Marc Fisher: Not a single person on our panels took this as a chance to spin out a worst-case scenario. In fact, most probably stretched a bit to find the more optimistic paths; I know I did. But you're certainly right that it comes off as a bit dark to many readers. Interestingly, that's not by any means the universal reading, so perhaps we each bring our own expectations to our reading of the scenarios.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: I would like to know who is the panel of experts that was consulted. Because overall I found a lot of ideas that seem to follow what I would call the "conservative's view of the future."

For example the idea that "Our panelists are almost unanimous in declaring that the District's public school system will have to be dissolved, sold off or otherwise disposed of." Really public schools which as been around for almost 200 years would disappear in a mere 17?

Then the sentence "Then there were the national ID cards that, once the controversy died down, really had helped to control the borders, redefine labor markets and reduce health costs" that so blithely assumes Real ID is totally going to work perfectly and even fix health costs? (How???)

Or that young women would be granted college scholarships based on pledging their intent to bear children."

Come on! Who came up with these ridiculous ideas?

Marc Fisher: I didn't screen our panels for political alignment, but I did make a conscious effort to include some folks from both sides of the aisle. That said, some of our panelists did come from fields that are dominated by one political ideology--academia and the arts being generally liberal, and business and technology being more predominantly conservative. Overall, I saw no evidence that people's political bents changed their views of the future of this region. To the contrary, there was remarkable consensus on our panels on many, if not most, of the issues we brought up.

You can hear audio excerpts from our panels' discussions on the Washington 2025 web page.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: And still, no flying cars?

Marc Fisher: Sorry--I even ended up holding back a bit on the automated driving systems that a lot of experts say are coming our way. I have no doubt that the technology will be there, but as I wrote in one of the scenarios, I'm more confident that American drivers will find and insist upon ways to override any automated driving controls.

_______________________

Logan North, D.C.: As a child growing up in the 1960s, I can remember visions of the future in which technology was depicted as a force that would reduce drudgery and increase leisure for the average American. Although this didn't quite happen, I was still struck that even the more benign scenario in your article was fairly discouraging. Was writing this article as depressing an experience for you as reading it was for me? Even the sunniest version of life in Washington in 2025 is unlikely to include hundreds of thousands of fat Washington Posts being dropped on area doorsteps every morning. Did that influence your own perspective in writing the article?

Marc Fisher: I hate to say it, but yes, I assumed from the start that Washington 2025 would be a place without a paper being hurled onto your front steps each morning. Many and perhaps most of the mass media standbys of the past half-century are likely to be dramatically transformed by 2025, so I doubt we will have anything that looks much like the daily newspaper, magazines, TV channels or radio stations that made up the mass media we all grew up with.

But it's entirely open to debate whether what comes next will be a reimagining of traditional media forms into new delivery systems, or a more thorough redefinition of information, news and entertainment. We're obviously caught between those two possibilities right now, and it really could go either way.

_______________________

washingtonpost.com: Link to Marc's article - including audio clips of the prognosticators: Washington's Future: A History (Washington Post Magazine, April 27)

_______________________

Navy Yard: As I read the article, which was endlessly fascinating and amusing, I couldn't help think of something the producers of "Children of Men" tried to create for their film. I'm paraphrasing here, but they perceived that the future will be just like today, only more so. It's not hard to arrive at some of your prognostications if you just take a good look around. I thought it was all quite logical. The fantasy elements were all quite plausible.

Marc Fisher: Thanks very much--plausibility was probably my single most compelling motive.

Inevitably, we will have gotten big and basic things entirely wrong. The exercise wouldn't be of any interest if we could have any certainty about this stuff. Looking back at the great utopian and dystopian works over the past century, they got stuff wrong in the most fascinating ways--and when they got it right, it's just stirring and amazing to go back and see how they got there. Jules Verne was probably more wrong than right, but the right stuff is dazzling--same with any great sci-fi writer.

I hope we don't end up in the Children of Men scenario, and I don't think we will. The non-Hollywood version is likely to be more boring and predictable, but probably a better place to live, too.

_______________________

Rockville, Md.: What was the point of the cheap shot at the Nats? Was it nothing more than an excuse to run the "I Am Legend" style art that the illustrator created?

I'd like to meet the expert who is willing to state that MLB is going to contract twice in the next 17 years and that the District will be willing to turn a $611 million stadium over to, of all things, wild coyotes.

Marc Fisher: I was waiting for that question--yes, I cop to a cheap shot. Again, we were also trying to have some fun and make folks think about how some things could go off the rails. I thought the artist, Peter Bollinger, did a fabulous job imagining some of the scenes, especially the abandoned Nationals Park.

I really don't think the baseball franchise will fail, but it's enough of a long-term possibility given the decline of the sport among kids and the failure of baseball to do anything about the extremely late-night playoff and World Series game times that I thought it was worth playing out.

And I stand by the coyotes--we've already had all sorts of new wildlife sightings in Rock Creek Park.

_______________________

Silver Spring, Md.: The reference in the article and the caption for the picture of Nationals Park was inaccurate. By 2025, it will be called Ronald Reagan Washington Nationals Park.

Marc Fisher: But will the city's name have been changed as well by 2025? The Reagan renaming project will be even more active and insistent in 17 years.

_______________________

Lyon Park: Why on earth would D.C. United go back to sharing a stadium with another sports team?

Marc Fisher: Don't you think United would be thrilled to share a new stadium just the right shape for both football and soccer with the Redskins, especially if Snyder were to pay for the bulk of the project?

_______________________

the McDonalds model did prevail, even if it did also morph into a more upscale business such as Starbucks: Have you seen Starbucks projections or stock prices lately? They may not be around in 2025 or at least not in their current state.

Marc Fisher: Quite right--they've perhaps had their moment. Or maybe they do as Wal-Mart is doing and find entirely new places in which to expand. If they could figure out a way to fold themselves into residential communities, so that folks didn't have to head out to a retail area, that could be revolutionary. Isn't it fair to imagine that the thick lines we've drawn dividing residential space from retail and entertainment space in suburban America might start to collapse, especially with soaring energy prices?

_______________________

Annandale, Va.: The U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population and yearly consumes 30 percent of the world's resources, so our economic "adjustment" will be well-deserved. Being of an advanced age and having no offspring, I'll be long dead and gone by the time Americans will have to live like everyone else on the planet, so I find your article to be of no concern.

Marc Fisher: Ok, but I think it's more likely that we and the rest of the world move slightly toward one another in style and level of living than that our lives collapse and theirs improve dramatically.

_______________________

St. Mary's City, Md.: For me, the most unsettling prediction was that the income gap would continue to grow. A large and vibrant middle class is absolutely essential for not only economic vitality but also democratic vitality. Any thoughts on what might prevent America from becoming a full oligarchy?

On a lighter note, can you help me get the Zager and Evans song out of my head?

Marc Fisher: It's hard to see how we restore the power, size and importance of the middle class in a society that seems to move inexorably toward extremes. But I agree that that is an essential task, and probably the answers lie more in a restructuring of our relationship to the rest of the world than in any domestic policy moves.

As for the song, sorry if I got it stuck in your head.

Here, let me see if I can make it worse:

In the year twentyfive twentyfive if man is still alive

If woman can survive they may find.

In the year thirtyfive thirtyfive

Ain't gonna need to tell the truth tell no lies

Ev'rything you think do and say is in the pill you took today.

In the year fortyfive fortyfive

You ain't gonna need your teeth won't need your eyes

_______________________

Gambrills, Md.: What happens to all the government workers in the area when they retire or take a buyout and wind up living past 80? Does everyone sit around and collect their pensions? Do they become Wal-Mart greeters? How many coffee shops and boutiques can be opened in the area by those in the later years of life? Or does everyone just move to Florida?

Marc Fisher: And what happens when Gen X wakes up and realizes they are being asked (told?) to support a hulking mass of aged and ailing boomers? What will the social unrest stemming from that avalanche of resentment look like?

_______________________

Shaw, D.C.: A question about your piece. Why did you expect D.C.'s height limitation to go? First, given that DC still has one of the world's most attractive commercial real estate markets for investors, why would you need to ruin it with taller buildings? Second, we still haven't maxed out on land yet. The new projects in my neighborhood, like the O Street Market, are finally planning to get to the city's height limit. There is plenty of unexploited land east of the Anacostia. Why try to make D.C. as unattractive as other American cities?

Marc Fisher: I don't think we will have high-rises quite as dramatic as the artist's interpretation in the Magazine, but the general idea is, I think, compelling and maybe even inevitable.

While it's not reasonable to think that the federal, monumental core will be open to high rise development in the coming decades, it makes sense that new business and commercial sections of the District will need a considerably higher level of density to compete against suburban centers. And I don't agree that taller buildings would ruin the commercial real estate market--to the contrary, every expert we talked to said the opposite.

Yes, there's lots of land generally to the east of downtown Washington that could be added to. But development patterns tell us something, and even if some construction is shifted east, there will still be great and growing demand to be in the successful places on the metro area's west side, and that can only mean building up.

_______________________

Not a question: The flying cars remind me of the stuff I read as a kid in the '60s, predicting that by 2000 our homes would all be run by computers. And in fact our homes ARE run by computer -- but not in any of the practical, efficient ways that the old articles predicted; instead, they've become the modern version of what was called the "idiot box" back then.

Marc Fisher: In any predictions of the future, I find it helpful to try to strip out the goody-goody bits of hope and instead to focus on what the new structures will be, rather than how they might be used. Because in general, we're better at coming up with new toys than we are at using them to be better people.

_______________________

what happens when Gen X wakes up and realizes they are being asked (told?) to support a hulking mass of aged and ailing boomers? : I predict my generation, generation Y or whatever you guys call us will be the ones who rebel before the older GenX. We're not about to watch you guys cruise in retirement as we help pay for a broken system. I wouldn't bank on it if I were you Boomers...

Marc Fisher: I like and agree with your sentiment, but politically, I bet the younger generations will have a tough time dismantling the structures that the old folks have built to protect themselves against your inevitable resentments. After all, look at how the lovers of Social Security have held off any and all assaults on the sanctity of a system that doesn't particularly make actuarial sense.

_______________________

Silver Spring, Md.: I think your tale of disconnection and other ways to connect is heavily upper-middle-class weighted.

Half my relatives are tradesmen of various kinds (plumbers, car mechanics, tile guys, HVAC guys). They still spend as much time as possible with their families, face to face. Yeah, they use technology in the form of fancy fishfinders, but they still spend weekends on their boats.

Marc Fisher: Excellent point--and it's hard to see how such tradesmen become anything but more affluent and more important in the coming era. Yet almost to a person, they complain that it's nearly impossible to find people who want to follow in their footsteps. So we should have included in the scenarios a greater sense of how the society struggles to deal with the decline or loss of many important crafts.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: I found the article interesting and quite readable, at least until I came to "President Heath Shuler", at which I broke out in hives...

Marc Fisher: Mission accomplished.

_______________________

Chicago, Ill.: Great article.

I only lived in D.C. for a few years in the 1990s, and I've been in Chicago most of the time since. To me, your article is best seen as a window into the mindset of people who live in the Washington area. I'm not so concerned about the specific predictions -- it's almost impossible and, in any event, the more things change the more they stay the same -- but just in what people focused on and emphasize. Just read the first couple paragraphs and it's all about terrorism and the efforts of the President (Shuler?!?) to guide the nation on a new path. Most of us don't think that way. Thanks.

Marc Fisher: I'm glad to hear that--yes, this was designed to be a very Washington-specific and -centric exercise, and yes, we have different ideas here about how things change and what people want. If such regional differences still matter decades from now, I'd conclude that these were indeed optimistic scenarios.

_______________________

McLean, Va.: What? No Dippin' Dots in 2025????

Marc Fisher: Personal privilege. I get to kill off a couple of the great evils just because I want to. You write your scenario, you can kill off the Post. Have at it.

_______________________

It's enough of a long-term possibility given the decline of the sport among kids : Fact: Baseball is more popular today than it has been ever in its entire history. With Hispanic population growth booming, the future of baseball (in 2055 let along 2025) will be fine and continue to be popular.

Marc Fisher: Yes, you could argue it that way. The attendance numbers are very supportive of your point--absolutely. But the demographics of the baseball audience are not as encouraging. Although Hispanic talent has created a golden age in some categories of the playing of the game, that has not yet translated into an equally diversified base of fans who go to the games.

_______________________

look at how the lovers of Social Security have held off any and all assaults on the sanctity of a system that doesn't particularly make actuarial sense.: I'm for keeping Social Security until the "Greatest Generation" dies off. They survived the Depression and won WWII, the Boomers smoked dope and burned American flags. You may reject that line of thinking, but I'm telling you it is there in the younger generations. These entitlement programs will vanish in 10-20 years, or many of us will die trying...

Marc Fisher: I hope you're right, but I don't see how that happens, at least not in the next 20 years.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: To affect property values, there would have to be a pattern of terrorist attacks, multiple attacks over X period of time. This can be applied to many statistical analyses: one or even two large events could be written off as anomalies in a certain period of time. It's been less than 7 years since 9/11, relatively short. On the energy front, see the WashPost article this past winter that mentioned the very real possibility of rolling blackouts if there becomes too much electricity demand in the near term, without increased capacity.

washingtonpost.com: Threat of Power Shortages Generating New Urgency (Washington Post, Feb. 3, 2008)

Marc Fisher: People are much more adaptable than our government gave us credit for being after 9/11. We haven't yet had to adapt to terrorism as Europeans did in the 1980s and 90s. But if we had to, we could and would.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: Ok, time to read some Ray Kurzweil, people. There's a hyper-optimist for you - that guy is unstoppable... tech is on an upward, hyperbolic curve!

Marc Fisher: Good recommendation.

We're over the hour, but I'll finish off with a few off-topic posts....

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: Listen outside, Marc. Do you hear that strange, awed silence? It's like the moment before you inhale deep before dunking your head under water. That, my friend, is the sound of a million D.C. metro residents and countless future tourists waiting with bated breath for the deadline for meters in cabs to get here Thursday. Oh yes, we are tickled.

washingtonpost.com: D.C. Taxis -- No Zones, No Justice? (Raw Fisher blog, April 23)

Marc Fisher: Good luck finding the meter cabs... May will be an interesting month in the cab world--two systems competing with one another on the same streets. Will passengers duck out of zone cabs to wait for a metered one? Or vice versa? Stay tuned.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: This is a comment about Washington, D.C. high schools and their disparity.

For the "Youth Summit" about seven years ago, I went to Maret, Washington International, Lab School, Ballou and Eastern high schools to help prepare the delegations of students for the day.

The difference smacked me in the face and not for the reasons most people think. The private schools had the look, feel and style of a college campus. The kids were treated with respect. The atmosphere was light, breezy and fun.

The public schools were full of "children", actually referred to as babies by some of the staff as in "where are the babies going." Kids were told to "dress for success" -- in other words overdress the way poor people often do. They were also threatened repeatedly about missing the bus to the event.

NO ONE would have dreamed of treating the private school kids in this patronizing and racist fashion (or referring to them as babies).

WHY ARE WE DOING THIS TO OUR KIDS?

washingtonpost.com: Schools Monday: Two Worlds of Education (Raw Fisher blog, April 28)

Marc Fisher: Interesting observations--yes, the attitude toward kids at D.C. public schools contrasts sharply with that at private schools. I'd love to get kids together from those two worlds and hear them on the impact that has....

_______________________

The "Pollin" Center: Ok, I understand your apparent desire to not give free ink to the telecommunications firm that purchased the building's name, but why not just call it the "Phone Booth" like the rest of us do?

Marc Fisher: I actually like the Phone Booth moniker, but I refrain from using it because it's derived from the name of the company that bought the naming rights. But I try not to be a total jerk about it, and Phone Booth is an acceptable alternative in the column and on the blog.

_______________________

Mt. St. Joseph High School, Baltimore, Md.: Your comments this morning about education and our absurdly short teaching calendar is on the mark. I've been teaching 12 years in a private Catholic high school (after 10 years in the ARMY) and the school calendar is beyond defense. With snow days and personal/sick days factored in, I have over 200 days off a year! School calendars are not driven by the needs of the students!

washingtonpost.com: Schools Monday: Two Worlds of Education (Raw Fisher blog, April 28)

Marc Fisher: It's the farmers! Blame the farmers! Well, actually, blame the politicians and school administrators who have failed to realize that our society no longer operates on an agricultural calendar.

_______________________

Marc Fisher: Thanks very much to all for coming along, and for reading the Washington 2025 story.

I'll be back at the usual Thursday noon time to continue this conversation and to take on anything else on your minds.

And check out Raw Fisher Radio, right here on the big web site, Tuesday at noon and throughout the week--this week, we look at the Maryland slots vote coming up this November.

_______________________

Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


» This Story:Read +|Talk +| Comments
© 2008 The Washington Post Company

Discussion Archive

Viewpoint is a paid discussion. The Washington Post editorial staff was not involved in the moderation.

Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity