Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Adventures in D.C. (Erin K. Patterson)

I have never blogged in my life so this will be quite interesting for some of you and painful for others. This program so far has been an amazing experience, and to be able to be here during Inauguration week is phenomenal. We have had speakers from different media outlets such as Dana Bash, Bob Beckel, Cal Thomas, Brian Lamb, and the rest of the C-SPAN crew. The Secret Service and the Smithsonian have also spoken to us. Of all the days so far, today is the best example of a fantastic day and a terribly boring today. It started off as most mornings here....early. Insanely early, like 5:45 early. We leave from our Hotel in Rosslyn and make our way to the UDC auditorium. Today of all the days we are here was special, we were going to be on live television today. C-SPAN broadcasted Washington Journal Live right there in front of us. It was just cool. There are no other adjectives to describe it. Watching something in person that you know that others watch religiously in their homes across the nation is pretty darn cool. Washington Journal Live was fascinating to me. His guests were NPR speaker Juan Williams and Fox News' Special Report host Bret Baier. They talked about the transition of power that will be taking place and the things that they thought should/might happen. The closing of Gitmo was on the list along with reformation healthcare's structure, assisting the economy with a new stimulus plan, and more education reform, which is desperately needed in this country.

Education is an issue that I have found is near and dear to my heart, and I just realized while we were eating lunch at Pizza Kitchen Sunday afternoon. Dr. Domin asked us to try and think of one success and one failure of the Bush Administration without involving Iraq. No Child Left Behind was what came into my head. I am no expert on No Child Left Behind these are only the thoughts of what I recall of it. I remembered the impact that it had on my small rural community. Our teachers were under so much pressure that they couldn't do there jobs. More focus was given to the ones that couldn't catch up than to the entire class. Not that its a bad thing to make sure everyone understands before moving on to the next subject. But when staying behind causes other children, especially gifted children to miss out on aspects of the education deserved, something has gone terribly wrong. To say that my high school always had their students had their best interests at heart would be fallacy after my sophomore year. They did however make sure most of us passed the Georgia High School Graduation Test. Passing that test would satisfy the Powers That Be for the State that gives us money temporarily. Its not that the concept of No Child Left Behind is a bad idea, but the consequences are so severe for the schools that can't make it up to standards for reasons of lacking funds or otherwise. I remember some of my teachers complaining about No Child Left Behind and the inhibitions it gave to their teaching. These are not the teachers that had anything to worry about. These are some of the best teachers I've ever had. So our education definitely needs to be near the top of President Elect Obama's priorities.

While they addressed these issues the guests on Washington Journal took questions from some of the students attending this seminar with the Washington Center. The students had some good thought provoking questions. I was impressed to say the least with the thought that goes into the questions asked. There were questions about Energy, the stimulus plan, the influence of media on the Congress to name a few. It was a great session to listen to.

After the Washington Journal, Brian Lamb came on with his Q&A segment with the Wheeler's. The Wheeler's are among other things major supporters of Obama, and helped him out in the Region 2 of Iowa, which we heard ALOT about. They weren't that fascinating and didn't have many answers to the appropriate questions asked by the students. arghh....uselessness. The final segment of the day was ab-sol-frickin-lutely fantabulous!!!! The students at the microphone were asked questions by Brian Lamb about their opinions on issues, what they thought, future plans, and impressions of the seminar. It was great listening to what people had to say, and to hear their convictions behind it. Just fantastic.

Our site visit today was at Accuracy in Media. oh the things that can be said. It was established in 1969 by Reed Irvine as the first media watchdog, and it was made clear right off that they were conservative. Honestly my mind absorbed the information, but didn't comprehend as my mind was almost in a state of comatose. I was bored out of my mind and ended up doodling so I would stay awake. But from what I gathered from my coherent notes, memory and fellow Mercerians, Accuracy in Media is a watchdog for liberal bias almost exclusively. They fight bias with their own bias, and didn't define what the bias was in the first place. AIM was good at skirting questions and coming up with unsatisfactory answers that brings up the question of their cognitive function.

This evening was especially exciting. We had a reception at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, such a beautiful building, and Bob Schieffer was the Guest of Honor. Talk about excitement. He was a great speaker and knew exactly what he was talking about. It was disappointing however that many of the students in the large reception room refused to be quiet. Ridiculuousness and Rudeness all in one. Other than that and the coat room fiasco the night went very well.

I have enjoyed this trip to Washington D.C. so very much and cannot wait for the rest of the week to follow.

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