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Central Pork

With respect to the statement in Mike DeBonis’ cover story that charter schools compound the budgetary problems DCPS now faces (The Education Issue, “The Office,” 11/16), I feel it necessary to clarify the role that charter schools play. District of Columbia public charter schools are public schools. D.C. public charter schools are open to all District residents, regardless of their neighborhood, socioeconomic status, academic achievement, or ethnicity, and there are no admission tests or tuition fees. They are independently operated public schools, which means that they are, almost invariably, more efficiently operated. D.C. public charter schools have their own school board and operate with a greater level of accountability than does DCPS. 

If providing District students with the best education possible is the goal, the media ought to do its best to dispel the misperception that public charter schools are robbing public school systems of their funds. Instead, D.C.’s public charter schools effectively and efficiently educate the children of District, a job at which DCPS has thus far proven itself inept. The hope is that Fenty’s takeover, Rhee’s housekeeping, and a healthy dose of competition from the new public schools can raise the quality of education afforded for all of the District’s children—not just those whose parents care enough about them to do whatever they can to get them out of the old public school system. 

Noel Fritsch
Barney Circle

As usual, I enjoy reading your articles about life the District of Columbia way. This article did more than hit a nerve; it hits at the purse strings and lives of the District of Columbia’s taxpayers. I hope that the Fenty Administration and its people come to realize that it will take more than mere needles, threads, and choice words to patch up an educational system that is hanging by a string.

Michelle Rhee is onto something with her conversation pieces, but is she really focusing on the real problems or just taking a seat in a reality show? Haven’t we had enough about reality shows in real time, where the main characters are coached and staged to perform a certain way, without a real-time performance?

When the cameras and lights are turned off, the real world of the educational system in the District of Columbia filters in. It is not a pretty picture! As Dr. Phil stated in one of his shows, “You can’t fix money problems with money!” In the case of our troubled school system, a closer look at how it is managed and functions, under current policies and its damaged relationships with parents needs to be taken into consideration. DCPS’ problems run deeper than the depth of the Anacostia River.

Michelle Rhee has only scratched the surface, and I am afraid that when she gets to the core of the problems that plague the District of Columbia Public School system, she may either run out of ideals or steam, or jump ship. All of which I hope never happens.

Sharon J. Chambers

Brewster Booster

Trey Graham’s review of The Women of Brewster Place is shocking (“Sister Whacked,” 11/2). This is probably the first time that I’ve been moved to respond to a review that was simply and blatantly wrong. I’m just happy that I didn’t see it until after I saw the play.

Simply said, it was fantastic—from the set design, to the portrayals, to the catchy tunes, to the quality of the performers.  

For anyone who has actually read Gloria Naylor, it was a far better portrayal than the movie and may be even better connected than the book. The story came to life and skipped some of the fattier sections of the book while developing the meat and the core of the story and characters. 

The performance flow was flawless, and the choreography—even to move the set around—was on point. I didn’t even want to walk around during the intermission.

Here’s the critical first fatal flaw in Graham’s comparison of this play with For Colored Girls …; one is a novel; the other is a play. You can’t compare apples and oranges; they’re both fruit, but they don’t look or taste the same.

The dialogue between Kiswana Brown and her mother was the first of many times that I was brought to tears. It was an accurate display of the loving, but complicated relationship, between mother and daughter—the diverse interpretations of the call to action—that still exists in black families today.  

It was beautifully written and executed. How do I know? My mother was crying beside me, and so were the groups of women—friends, families, and colleagues—all around us. We could relate. It is the same constant debate that we’ve had many times in our family, across class lines, and across generation regarding our responsibilities, our contributions, our actions for the betterment of our communities, our families, and ourselves.

It is true that some of the character transformations were not necessarily realistic. It moved too fast, but guess what—so did the book. It’s not an autobiography—this is fiction. But the development and introduction of the characters was so subtle and consistent with their portrayal in the book that I loved it. Mattie was exactly how I envisioned her; so is Etta Mae. Theresa and Lorraine were even better.

I encourage you to read the book, watch the movie, and then go see the play again. I think you may (or may not) have a change of heart.   

In closing, I would simply underscore how great a piece of art The Women of Brewster Place truly is. Why? Because you and I saw the same performance, same cast, same set, and walked away with two completely different interpretations and experiences. Coming from a family of artists, I was taught that it must be some pretty good stuff.  

I just hope others will want to see with their own eyes and not trust either of our opinions.

Jamila Thompson

Hi-Def, Lo-Fi

Everything Dave McKenna said about the Redskins radio broadcasts was so true (Cheap Seats, “The Final Countdown,” 11/23). My favorite part of the broadcast is: “The Maryland Lottery Drive of the Day is brought to you, as always, by GTSI.”

The delay problem you talked about may be partially an intentional delay, but the bulk of the delay is caused by the new HD radio system. WBIG has an associated digital carrier that has a digital version of the analog program and another oldies stream. The processing for these digital signals takes about 8 seconds. As cars move around the area, the very low power digital carrier drops out, and the radio reverts to the analog carrier. The analog is delayed so that it is in time with the digital. I know what you are thinking: Are they really screwing up the system just for both of the cars in the area that have an HD radio? Yes, they are.

John Terhar
Chantilly, Va.


I am very sorry to hear about the decision to stop using Rob Ullman to illustrate the Savage Love column. Ullman’s illustrations are a large reason that I pick up the City Paper and recommend it on my blog about comics in Washington. Combined with the much smaller size of the remaining columns, this gives me much less reason to read the paper or to recommend it to people. I hope you will reconsider this decision promptly and return Rob’s illustrations—they make a column that can be a bit over the top much more amusing.

Michael Rhode
Arlington, Va.

I am quite saddened to learn that Robert Ullman’s spot illustrations will not be a part of the Savage Love columns come the first of the year. First you drop Ted Rall’s strip, and now you are axing Ullman’s illustrations? I have been reading City Paper for 20+ years at this point, and I am not pleased with this new direction City Paper has taken of late. Please, please, please reconsider this decision, as I love his work and feel it is the perfect complement to Dan Savage’s column.

Dale Rawlings
Silver Spring, Md.