When I opened my newspaper this morning (The Washington Post, in case you are wondering; no I don’t live in DC, but old loyalties die hard and sometimes The Gettysburg Times just doesn’t cut it when I want actual news from the world beyond the borough’s limits), I was elated by one piece of news and saddened by two others.
Elation might be the wrong emotion. Relieved (complete with teary eyes and a runny nose) is probably more accurate. The Chilean miners are going home. What an amazing story. The online versions of the news media are broadcasting it, and the headlines are updated as each miner surfaces. This morning, my paper said 11 had been rescued. My lunchtime check, it’s up to 15. It gives me a jittery, excited stomach just to think about it. Applause to the folks who have been working day and night for the past two months to get them out. Heroes in the eyes of the miners, their families, the world.
After celebrating the miners’ rescue, I moved down to the next article, one that brought justified sadness. The co-founder and co-owner of a nationally recognized DC literary establishment passed away yesterday. Mrs. Carla Cohen opened Politics & Prose, and totally awesome bookstore in DC, over 25 years ago. I was saddened to hear that the early summer announcement that the bookstore was being sold due to the owners’ age and failing health. Politics & Prose is a beacon in an industry that is quickly succumbing to advances in technology that deem hardcopy unnecessary. I love a good, solid book, one that I can hold in my hands, one with pages that shuffle as they turn and smell like ink, and when I was DC-based, Politics & Prose was one of my favorite spots to read, to buy, and to hear literature and its creators. I can only hope that the store’s new owners do the store and its legacy justice. Peace to Mrs. Cohen and her family and friends.
The final bit of news that struck an emotional chord with me this morning was the news that Michelle Rhee has resigned as the Chancellor of DC Schools. I don’t live in DC. My kids don’t go to DC public schools. So why does news of Ms. Rhee’s resignation resonate with me? Because I do work for the company that she founded before she went to DC, and I wholeheartedly support its mission to get good teachers into classrooms and keep them there. And because I think Ms. Rhee’s moves are ballsy and effective. I want superintendents across the nation follow her lead to whip the public school systems in this country into shape. Whip. Not coax gently over the course of several years with policies that are only semi-effective for the students in the classrooms. Whip, beat, pummel, bludgeon, and shred. Actual reform happens when leaders rip of the Band-Aid: fast and painful, but it’s gets the job done most efficiently. I’m disappointed that her leadership is leaving the nation’s capital, though I’m sure she’ll crop up somewhere else and will continue to be a leading voice in education reform.
This swirl of emotions that has persisted through my morning: relief, sadness, disappointment, relief, sadness, disappointment. Tomorrow is likely to bring more of the same (hopefully with two bouts of happy and just one bout of sad).