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Sandra Tsing Loh: like Oprah on Fire

with 7 comments


Sandra Tsing Loh holds court at Wordstock in Portland.

Sandra Tsing Loh holds court at Wordstock in Portland.

Live Wire! at the Aladdin Theater in Portland.

Live Wire! at the Aladdin Theater in Portland.




The food wasn’t even the highlight of the weekend in Portland. No, that was seeing Sandra Tsing Loh, the writer, comic performer and feminist first amendment icon turned public schools activist, who is just about my favorite person on the page these days. We especially love her bi-monthly column in The Atlantic.

At the Live Wire! radio show Saturday night, she read a five-minute stream from her new tome, Mother on Fire, squirming with nervous energy and flailing her arms as she recounted the woes of a 40-something perimenopausal woman clinging to her last strings of sanity, as she and her young children navigate the segregated, class-obsessed world of education in L.A.

But uncensored Sandra, holding court for a full hour at the Wordstock festival Sunday, proved to be the real treat. She lamented a feminist movement (though she embraces it) that drained our public schools of uniquely nurturing female genius, a movement that has never exalted the mothers-on-the-move powerhouse organization for change: the mighty P.T.A.

And she blasted politicians (Barack Obama included) and other journalists in the chattering classes for not putting their money where their mouth is by sending their children to public school. It’s like cops living in the suburbs, away from the violent inner-city districts they patrol, she said. They don’t have that same stake in the community where they work.

Readers chewed her out on an New York Times election blog for taking Obama and Biden to task for sending their children to private school while Sarah Palin sent her progeny to the humble little public school in Wasilla (granted there are less options there, and now post-campaign, they will surely go to Wasilla Prep:)). So President Obama, heed her call and send Sasha and Malia to D.C. public schools! Then the public might again worry more about our failing urban schools and less about the puppy you’re bringing to the White House.


Besides, Tsing Loh works a crowd just like your great supporter Oprah, bouncing around with a microphone to her seated audience members, treating them as equals as they ask a question to her face.

Written by baltimoregon

November 11, 2008 at 2:18 am

7 Responses

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  1. i don’t fault obama for sending his kids to private school. the dc schools suck. clinton sent his kid to private school and public schools improved on his watch.


    November 11, 2008 at 5:34 am

  2. Yeah but there are magnet, charter and special dual language public schools that the girls would thrive in. I just think our public schools are only as good as the students who attend them (with parents advocating for them at home).

    But I realize private schools would be more secure and that the Obama girls would fit in more with classmates with other famous parents. Plus, Obama himself got a boost from his Hawaii public school.


    November 11, 2008 at 11:11 am

  3. yes the dc schools suck – but whatever schools obama girls went to would be forced to get their acts together at least somewhat – so would be way to directly improve at least 1-2 schools 🙂

    and i don’t think they’d be unsafe there – who would mess w presidents kids? if something happened to them that’d show how messed up public schools.. which might force us to give them attention they need


    November 11, 2008 at 12:51 pm

  4. Plus, it would be a way for Obama to differentiate himself from the Clintons and shore up his progressive credentials!


    November 11, 2008 at 1:13 pm

  5. I don’t know about this- DC public school are the worst in the nation. It would be different if we were calling on him to send his children to average public schools.

    My guess is that he might do a charter or magnet school for the girls but honestly, I don’t think those schools are doing much better.

    And I do think they could be unsafe at a DC public school. There are a lot of crazy, racist people out there. He’s had a lot of assassination threats– you can believe there are people who would think about harming his children.


    November 11, 2008 at 2:41 pm

  6. …what progressive credentials? 🙂

    yeah, there’s gotta be a good magnet school. philly schools are just as shitty, and even they have a school, masterman, which is so exclusive it’s like a private school. the mayor’s kid goes there.

    my friend went to the same school as chelsea clinton. he even trick or treated with her…said she didn’t need to wear a mask–bah DUM ch!


    November 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm

  7. yeah heard the Obamas were looking at Sidwell Friends.

    This article mentioned some interested dual-language immersion schools. They would have secret service protection where ever they went.


    November 11, 2008 at 3:26 pm

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