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In The News … (more!)

Affordable housing means financial incentives, experts tell MontCo (Washington Examiner): “Yet 44 percent of renters in the county spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, said Michael Bodaken, president of the National Housing Trust. A minimum-wage earner would need to work four full-time jobs to afford a “modest” two-bedroom apartment in the county. The most realistic solution is to try to preserve some of the existing housing where rents are in danger of climbing, because working with existing structures costs one-third as much as building new housing, Bodaken said.” According to Roger Lewis, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, “it is going to take some public-sector financing, which then gets into the political briar patch.” (We also touched upon the high housing costs in Arlington in yesterday’s In The News)

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A Great Variety

But the forming a new System of Government, for so numerous a people, of very different views, and habits, spread upon such a vast extent of Territory, containing such a great variety of soils, and under such extremes of climate, was a task, which nothing less than the dreadful apprehension of losing our national existence, could have compelled the people to under-take. We can be known to the world, only under the appellation of the United States.

statesman John Hancock, born today in 1737

It is not enough to know your craft; you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more.

painter Edouard Manet, born today in 1832

Question for Monday

From Jay Matthews‘ column in Sunday’s Post:

Public schools in America began as local enterprises. They mostly remain so today. Some presidential candidates have tried to make them a big issue. Remember former Vermont governor Howard Dean’s attacks on standardized testing when he sought the Democratic nomination in 2004? It didn’t work. Education issues have never had a significant impact on a national election. [...]

The most successful American politicians know that and are no more willing to turn against testing than they are to come up with a radically different system for paying the medical bills of us geezers. I suspect we will straighten out Medicare long before we agree on better ways to measure what our schools are doing. So if you crave an education debate, prepare to be bored in 2012.

Food for thought (or rather, debate) for this Monday and moving forward: education of course is a major factor in local elections, as we witnessed during this past mayoral election in DC. But does the inherently local nature of schools mean that education can never dictate, or even significantly influence, a national election?

Moreover, does the difficulty of assessing public educations factor into its absence from presidential platforms? Were there less controversy surrounding testing, would we in fact have more discussion of the larger issue — namely, the educational experience that standardized tests purport to measure?

Either way, a nationwide debate on public education could certainly catalyze local discussion and action. So what can we do to make that happen if our prospective candidates would rather not address it? And is that a fair characterization?