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June 4, 2013 / Christian Clansky

New legislation proposes ‘aggressive’ overhaul of DC schools. Does it have a chance of passing?

D.C. Council member David Catania, who chairs the education committee, is preparing to announce a legislative package designed as “an aggressive attempt to overhaul” the District’s school system. Catania’s motivations are easy to get behind:

So long as our school system fails, and it disproportionately fails poor people and people of color, it permits a culture of division…If we don’t tackle this issue of the achievement gap, if we continue to relegate this city to a city of haves and have-nots that fall very hard across race lines, we’re never going to be the city we need to be.

The Post reports that Catania has support from other council members – even from his frequent rival, Marion Barry – though certain elements of the package are likely to face opposition. One of the more innovative ideas is to link standardized test performance to student grades so that students care more about them.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. As Council member David Grosso notes, the proposal will, at the very least, “drive needed debate about how to improve the city’s schools.” (WaPo, 6/4)

AGING/MENTAL HEALTH | Suicide rates are sharply increasing among Baby Boomers, but there isn’t significant research available about the reasons. The Post lists a few possibilities, including social isolation, financial burden, and a fear of aging. And the CDC has issued a vague statement on the trend by calling for more research and better prevention techniques. Is this an area where philanthropy can step up? (WaPo, 6/4)

Related: Is Poverty Among Older Americans Undercounted? (AARP, 5/24)

HIV/AIDS | Has a supercomputer discovered a way to stop HIV? (Gizmodo, 6/4)

POVERTY | There are quite a few public programs and policies aimed at reducing poverty including tax credits, SNAP, WIC, and HA (housing assistance, but let’s call it HA). Are they working? New research highlighted by The Commonwealth Institute suggests that they are in Virginia. (CW, 6/3)

NONPROFITS | The Foundation Center’s Proposal Writing Boot Camp is coming up later this month, and the Freddie Mac Foundation has funded a number of scholarships to cover the full $595 fee. [More info.]

COMMUNITY | Deloitte’s IMPACT Day is an annual celebration of the company’s community involvement. For one day, tens of thousands of Deloitte professionals volunteer their time and talent to benefit nonprofits at over 800 community service projects organized by Deloitte’s more than 100 office locations nationwide.

In the lead up to IMPACT Day this Friday, Deloitte’s National Director of Corporate Citizenship, Evan Hochberg, is tweeting all week from @lifeatdeloitte. Check out this video where he talks about the impact of skilled volunteerism.

LOCAL | Here are some maps of rivers, creeks, and canals that used to run through the District. It looks like we could have sailed from Union Station to Georgetown. That would have been cool. Thanks a lot developers, or global warming, or whoever totally ruined our dreams. (GGW, 6/4) Speaking of rivers and dreams…


If you want to really stress yourself out, give this rapid-fire trivia quiz a shot. You have to know the answers and be able to type wicked fast. Try to refrain from screaming profanities at the top of your lungs if you finish three short of the goal.

And if you’d prefer to read a little history instead of raising your blood pressure, I recommend this article about some truly crazy WWII weapons

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