Riding the bus to Bethesda - be it a Metrobus or a plain old school bus - from points east is always quite a task. For starters, when you're sitting at East-West Highway and Grubb Road, which divides the Silver Spring and Bethesda zip codes, you have to consider that the same three-bedroom Colonial on the Silver Spring side is probably worth half as much as its neighbor across the street. And when you cross Rock Creek Park and see the giant houses looming over you, it's hard not to feel insignificant - dare I say less of a person than whomever must live there.
I, for one, am glad that our wealthier friends in Bethesda and Chevy Chase understand our pain, as witnessed in these comments from a Chevy Chase resident about public schools from the Post Magazine's yearly "Education Review":
"What I really object to," he said passionately, "is that they bus in all those black kids from Silver Spring. They bring them into this neighborhood, to see all of our big houses, exposing them to things they are never going to have. I just don't see the point."Is that why Purple Line opponents in Chevy Chase want the trains to run underground? (We're not pointing any fingers at you, Pam Browning, but your neighbors suddenly look very suspect.)
so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .
I was more than a little shocked by the article in question, "Unreal World" - which came out in support of public schools as a "counterculture" move in super-wealthy Montgomery County and its companion piece, "Learning to Conform," which argues the very same public schools are "snuffing out [students'] curiosity."
This is all, of course, from the perspective of writers living in Chevy Chase and Garrett Park, two very small, very cute, and ridiculously isolated parts of Montgomery County. At least they didn't dredge up the age-old fear that you'll get cut in public schools, even though it did happen this week: A Magruder High football player was stabbed by a member of the visiting team after last Friday's game. The opponents was Blake, my alma mater.
As a product of Blake and the Montgomery County Public Schools, I'd like to think I got an excellent, stabbing-free education, and I did. I feel that private schools are a waste of money in MoCo, but I nearly landed in one myself: my mother, having just moved to Downtown Silver Spring fifteen years ago, was encouraged by her sisters to put me in a Catholic school in the District, where I lasted exactly two days. From there, it was public school all the way.
(You say the public schools stifle curiosity? At least capital punishment wasn't allowed. I can still feel the harsh sting of the ruler against my neck from nuns irritated that I wouldn't stop laughing in class because the kid a row behind wouldn't stop tickling me.)
As much as I love the Post, it's a little frustrating that their "Education Review" would focus on the attitudes of people in a very small portion of the metropolitan area. (I never assumed that journalism was a high-paying job, but if these writers can all afford to live in Chevy Chase, perhaps architecture was the wrong field of study for me.) I sincerely doubt that most MoCo residents, whether or not they had the choice to put their kid in a private school, would consider public schools to be an outrageous proposition.
A school is a community insititution; the health of one is directly linked to the health of the other, and it's worthwhile to invest in both. Diversity is a concept beaten a little too hard into the minds of MCPS students, but that doesn't lessen its significance to a child's development or to the state of Montgomery County in the 21st century. I find there is nothing quite like riding a J4 Metrobus filled with everyone from line cooks to interns as we pass those large houses overlooking Rock Creek Park. It is always disappointing to remember, though, that inside, the residents may be looking down on you.