If you’ve ever watched a television series, like “Hill Street Blues” or “NYPD Blue,” you are probably well acquainted with the mutual disdain between local and federal law enforcement. While the script for these shows was predictable, it was engrossing nonetheless. Cops were local bumpkins who policed on gut instinct, and whose ties to locals made corruption an ever-present danger. Feds were arrogant ‘suits’ who used wiretaps and hi-tech devices to drag in dozens at a time—cops included.
Eleven years ago, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work on education. The liberal think tank that hired me focused on state issues, so I had nothing to do with the project that was consuming D.C. wonks at the time: a once-a-decade reauthorization of the mammoth federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act that would become the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
On Tuesday night this past week, alarm bells suddenly began ringing at 1 Dupont Circle, the Washington, DC headquarters of the powerful higher education lobby. The trigger was the surprise ultimatum that President Obama leveled in his State of the Union address. “We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” he said. “We’ll run out of money.” States needed to stop slashing college budgets, he noted, but colleges also had work to do.
THE WHITE HOUSE Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery State of the Union Address: “An America Built to Last” Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 As Prepared for Delivery – Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq.
Down my street, one family is doing its best to pump up the Christmas spirit. They have filled their modest lawn with inflated ornaments, each about five-feet tall. On one side of the walkway stands a Frosty the Snowman and a Rudolph the Reindeer, both with scarves wrapped around their necks and big smiles on their faces, as well as a miniature Santa Claus and Rudolph waving from inside a snowdome.
You might not know it from the sleepy diagonal avenues of Washington, DC, but today is election day in several places around the country. Here are the battles to watch: MISSISSIPPI Ballot Referenda Personhood At last, the famous “Personhood Amendment” comes to a vote. To recap: If the amendment gets a simple majority by voter referendum, the Mississippi state constitution is amended to define personhood at the moment of fertilization.
In early September, officials from the Chilean Embassy in Washington, DC came to my office for advice about a political crisis wracking their country. Angry about the state of university education—including high tuition costs, predatory student loans, ineffective school vouchers, pervasive inequality, and rampant profit-taking—hundreds of thousands of Chileans have taken to the streets regularly since May of this year, participating in demonstrations and national strikes.