MIKE YOUSEM reminded us of the forthcoming Shopping Spree, which takes place next Thursday evening, starting at 5:30 from the Westside Family YMCA please be on time. There are 28 signed up, and having done this a few times myself, you will be helping some kids and you’ll feel good about it. And while there was general mumbling about fining MIKE since FLORENCE SAMPSON didn’t get her instructions, Prexy MIKE bravely resisted the intense pressure, contending that the event itself deserved leniency.
We were reminded that we will NOT be at the Bel Air next Thursday, since we have a joint meeting with Santa Monica Rotary the next day, Friday the 8th, at Riviera CC.
It looks like PP PETER MORE and I will be able to get DAN PRICE to that meeting.
SHANE WAARBROEK reminded us that the Braille Christmas Luncheon will be held on that same day, Friday the 8th. He has about a half dozen helpers signed up, and urges them to arrive by 10:30 to get instructions. We will miss PP HOWIE HENKES, who has chaired our visit for many years.
SHERRY DEWANE came forward to make a lovely pitch about remembering our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan this Christmas. Her boyfriend’s son is in the Army, stationed in Iraq. A detailed list was passed out noting things they would like to receive note that MANY soldiers and marines do not have family who can send them anything. Among the items are music and movie CD’s, paperbacks, Kool Aid Singles or Crystal Life Singles, cookies, candy that doesn’t melt, Suntan lotion (high SPF), eye drops, lip balm, eyewash, and seasonal stuff. We can bring this to the meetings, and SHERRY will see that it gets shipped to the troops. And the MOST IMPORTANT thing we can provide are letters, describing what YOU are doing any news of this type from home is most worthwhile again bring the letters to our meetings. If questions in the meanwhile, you can reach SHERRY at (213) 346-1493.
SC/UCLA football tickets were donated by PP YOSH SETOGUCHI and PP MIKE NEWMAN, and our guest from Rotaract, Wendy Medina bought them with her donation to our Foundation.
PEGGY BLOOMFIELD reminded us that the next District Breakfast will be in January, the 9th, 0700 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at LAX. Please sign up with her.
Mark, the Manager of the Westwood Farmers Market, made a brief presentation. The Market has relocated to the Veterans’ Administration property, and you enter from Sepulveda, opposite the cemetery entrance gate on Constitution. The Veteran’s Garden is a nicely planted area tended by the Veterans, and the Market features the freshest produce at good prices. They open at noon every Thursday. Give them a try you’ll be pleased.
And the final announcement Santa Monica Rotary will be holding a fund-raiser for the library, so if you have new books you wish to contribute (or buy) please be aware.
Two email address changes, please:
JACK HARRIS, firstname.lastname@example.org
RAY ZICKFELD, email@example.com
The Story was next. A man drives his Rolls Royce to his bank in New York City. He then asks for a $5,000 loan. The bank manager says, “We can’t loan without collateral” The man says he’ll put up his Rolls. This is accepted, and the car is driven to their underground parking for safekeeping. The man pockets the 5K, and leaves his keys. Two weeks later he returns, says he wants to pay the loan, and asks what is the cost. Well, it’s $5000 in principal, and $15.40 in interest. He pays and at this point, the Manager asks, “Sir you’re a millionaire. Why in the world would you ask to borrow $5000?” “Where else in Manhattan can I get a safe parking place for two weeks for $15.40?”
MARK ROGO was pleased to introduce our Speaker, Tom Hudnut, the CEO and Headmaster of Harvard/Westlake School. Graduating from Harvard and MIT, over the last thirty year, Tom has become the leading expert on secondary school education in the United States. Since his appointment, he has established Harvard/Westlake as the leading secondary school in Los Angeles. One example their Science department has raised more money than the Science budget for the entire Los Angeles Unified School District.
One third of their teachers are PhDs. MARK has two daughters who attended Harvard/Westlake, and the self-confidence and self-respect that was ingrained in them has made a real difference in their lives.
Tom began by asking us to think back to when we were in the fourth grade! For him, this was just fifty years ago the mid-1950’s. He went to a public school, walked or rode his bike to and from, and even went home for lunch. His teacher was a woman, and after school he played in the neighborhood with his friends not supervised by any adults. He returned home for dinner with the family, had no homework, and sometimes watched a bit of TV or listened to the radio. He would read something, and go to bed. All this was before the parental involvement which is so prevalent now.
He wonders how many fourth graders today can recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as we all did today. The end of widespread optimism began with Prop. 13 which slowly strangled school budgets all over California. By the time he moved to California in 1982, funds for music, art, and phys ed were largely eliminated, particularly in the poorer schools. The wealthier schools were holding fund-raisers to keep these programs going.
An example Tom was President of the Marin Symphony, an internationally known group of high school musicians, who traveled extensively and had great success. However, as funding for music receded, the high school group eventually had to disband.
As a community got older, and the citizens no longer had kids in school, they tended to vote their pocketbooks, assuming that the shortfall would be picked up by others which it wasn’t.
What makes a good school? It starts with the Principal. If that person is unencumbered by union restrictions, tenure, or considerations of who teaches where, they have the necessary freedom to create a productive teaching environment. The ability to hire and fire, and allowing teachers to specialize in the subjects they majored in frees up their creativity. You also need students who are supported by their parents, and well-maintained facilities - toilets that work, for instance. The State of Texas has become the standard for what books are produced, because they are the largest purchaser of school supplies and texts. So if Texas likes it, that’s what you get, and there are 49 other states which may have different preferences.
He is appalled when he goes into a home and sees no books and I’ve seen this myself, by the way. If there is nothing to read, why bother to learn to read? A study by the University of Michigan showed there was one common denominator among all the National Merit Scholarship finalists in the country they sat down to dinner with their families! Values are taught at home. Kids who don’t eat with their families don’t have the benefit of intercourse with adults, of learning from others they are often “baby sat” by TV or, today, their computer. Tom learned to love history from his grandfather, who was born during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, and died during Kennedy’s term and listening to his grandfather ignited his interest in what he had seen over those many years. Don’t forget that those of us who are grandparents have a wonderful opportunity to tell our grandchildren about what life was like as we were growing up who can be a better source for these eager young minds than us?
Among the staff reductions that now occur in public schools are counselors. Tom knows of one school with 900 students who have ONE college counselor and that can be typical. He quoted an article in the Wall Street Journal which suggested that if your child isn’t in the top ten percent of his independent school class, move him to a public school! Not good advice if you want to learn to swim fast, go to where people swim fast, right? If you are surrounded by students who are excelling, it is bound to move you along to keep up with them as they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. Another myth you have to be rich to attend private school. Harvard/Westlake gives away over five million dollars each year in financial aid, as do many other independent schools. You have to be a genius to attend private school yet the common denominator among geniuses is perseverance, not necessarily IQ. He gave an example of a letter he received “from his good friend, Al Gore” recommending a student for admission. These are jokes among admission officials usually the writer has never even met the student.
What is the purpose of schools? Tom suggests it is to uplift and civilize us, to expose us to worlds beyond our own, to let the world in, not keep it out. He concluded by saying he is not an optimist but he does live with hope. Following was a brief Q&A.
SUSAN ALLEN, What is your reaction to the ten million dollar gift from Eli Broad to charter schools? It’s bound to help. PP JIM COLLINS, What is your opinion of single-sex education? I prefer mixing the sexes, since that is the competitive atmosphere we all enter after school is finished.
Tom Hudnut, we thank you for a most challenging message..