CHARLES KERCHNER on LAUSD at WVRC on July 16th
Knowing as I do the timelessness and therefore golden value of recent Windmills, I herewith present a list of those that are still available they will be displayed for pickup THIS THURSDAY, the 23rd ONLY. starting with Feb 12, Craft Talks by Marsha Hunt and John Heidt. Feb 19th, Catholic Education in LA. Feb. 26th, Engineers Without Borders. March 12th, Hollywood Palace Anniversary. March 26th, Short meeting before Mary Francis Cox service. April 9th, Hospice with Barbara Roberts. April 16th, A Better LA. April 30th, Reading to Kids and Reach Our and Read. May 7th, Steve Day & Rick Mendoza, RI Foundation. May 14th, The UCLA Hospital System. May 21st, Creating Hope in Uganda. May 28th, The Painted Turtle. June 11th, Westwood Library. June 19th, The Anderson School at UCLA. And June 27th, Sean McMillan's Swan Song. This is your last and only chance and they’re FREE!
And to this week’s meeting proper, JACK HARRIS led the Pledge. MARK KRAUSE gave the Invocation, preceded by some comments: Let us take a moment to remember all the religions represented in the Rotary family. Let us also recall that when we were invited to join our Rotary Club we were not asked are you a Protestant, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Jew, a Catholic or a Buddhist, or a Sikh. You were not asked because all religions are welcome in the Rotary family. Please join me in a moment of reflection and thanks with these words With our friends beside us, and no person beneath us, with the bonds of Rotary between us, and our worries behind us, with our goals before us, and no task beyond us, with a thirst for knowledge, and a dream of a Polio-free world, We are thankful for our Rotary friends and the meal we are about to share. Thank You, Shalom, Ah-men. Well done, MARK makes me think you may have done this before! PP STEVE SCHERER stepped forward to lead the song, God Bless America.
We had no Visiting Rotarians, but our former Ambassadorial Scholar, Lois Kwak was with us. Also present was the wife of our Speaker, Leanne Kerchner. LEE DUNAYER brought his son, Barrett, and ARLENE PETTISE slipped in, late. PP MIKE NEWMAN announced that he is the Counselor for a new Ambassadorial Scholar from Japan. His name is Matsuki, and he is doing research on the uses of computers in science and graphics. Matsuke is anxiously looking for housing, starting sometime in August, so please let MIKE know if you have any suggestions.
At this point, Prexy ED offered his idea that we had perhaps had enough Irish History, and as you can imagine, this was greeted with cries of “More, More!” This led, somehow, to a tale of installing a flat-screen TV at ED’s home. Inquiring about the somewhat unusual speech of the Installer, he was told that he came from Outer Mongolia. No doubt intending to increase our worldwide geographic knowledge, Prexy ED asked PP MIKE NEWMAN what the Capital City of UB was. He was unable to come up with an answer but I knew all along that it was Ulan Bator. That’s what you get from owning a travel agency for 25 years, by golly! Anyway, the sad result of this lack of knowledge on the part of PP MIKE was a fine of ten bucks, which caused the finee to complain about the apparent unfairness of this levy. To assuage his hurt feelings, Prexy ED promised that the next time PP MIKE went to UB, he, ED would provide a ‘little travel pack’ whose contents were not divulged.
This exchange led to what we might call a mini-inspirational tale. Prexy ED identified this offering as “an actuarial joke”, which had the advantage of lowering our expectations. It seems that three men were sentenced to die at the guillotine. The first victim placed his neck in the proper position, but when the blade dropped, it stopped just inches from his neck! This caused the attending King to declare that the rules of the country were that if the guillotine failed to do its job, the subject was therefore free! The next man also moved into the proper position, and yet again, the blade stopped just before reaching his neck. The King again gave the same ruling he was therefore free! Now it was the actuary’s turn. After placing himself in the guillotine harness, he looked up and said “I think I see what the problem is”.
We were reminded of the upcoming August Moon Festival Fun Party, which will take place on Saturday, August 8th, starting at 6 pm in the gardens of SHIRLEY and PETER MORE’s home. Cost is $40, per person, checks made out to Westwood Village Rotary Auxiliary, and mailed to Margie Downie at 633 S. Burlingame Ave, LA 90049. Places are limited, so reserve early!
And while not publicly announced, I should report that four of us MARCIA BROUS, MARSHA HUNT, ED JACKSON, and I were at Magnolia School again this past Saturday morning for Reading to Kids. We had 3rd graders, and they are both enthusiastic and fun to work with. Our next date is the same day as the August Moon Festival on Saturday the 8th of August. I think PAT and ANDY ANDERSON will be joining us, from 0900 until noon, and we encourage the rest of you to come aboard - it’s really fun!
A visitor today was Seoung Yon Kwak (call her Lois) who was an Ambassadorial Scholar in 2003-04. She is continuing her doctoral studies toward Conducting on the Herb Alpert Music Fellowship at UCLA. They are planning a benefit concert, CLASSICS for CHARITY next Saturday the 25th of July at the nearby University Religious Conference Center. Among the selections to be offered are Mozart, Rimsky-Korsakov and three sing-a-longs, Amazing Grace, America the Beautiful, and God Bless America. The orchestra will be composed of members of the UCLA Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Doctors Orchestra and local high school orchestras who are dedicated to making people’s lives better through music.
Here are those who will benefit from this wonderful program
ELEVEN Convalescent Hospitals! Country Villa Westwood Regency, Brentwood Manor, Country Villa Cheviot Garden in WLA, Sunrise Senior and Oceanview Convalescent in Santa Monica, Woodruff Convalescent in Bellflower, Chapman Manor-Alzheimer/Dementia Care in Fullerton, Summerville at Valley View in Garden Grove, Summerville at Fairwood in Anaheim, Sunrise Senior Living in La Palma, and Villa Elena Healthcare Center in Norwalk! This is all coordinated by the New Daybreak Ministry, contact Pastor Change at (310) 882-8898, and you can reach Lois at LoisKwak@gmail.com or (609)203-6887
Ms Kwak wishes to dedicate this particular concert to the people of America because of the generosity of Americans to her family during the Korean War. Ms Kwak’s family made their escape from North Korea into Seoul in South Korea. During the war, Ms Kwak lost her grandfather in the chaos of war, and her family lost all their possessions. An American non-profit organization provided $10.00 monthly to her family, on which they survived for a year. They did not know the givers nor did the givers know the family. Ms Kwak believes that she is here today because of those generosities. Your gift will grant a similar life-preserving assistance to someone whom you will never know and who will never know you, but the effect of your gift may last forever. All YOE can say is “WOW”!
I found an attractive folder on the table, entitled “Come Fly With Me”. This is District Governor Suzanne Sundberg’s outline of her coming year. Significant dates are the Rotary Family Picnic on Sept 20th in Redondo Beach, the Paul Harris Celebration on October 3rd, the trip to Quito to install some water towers from the 18th to 22nd of March, the District Conference in Palm Springs from May 13th to the 16th, and of course the RI Convention in Montreal, 20-23 June.
STEVE PETTISE introduced his schoolmate and our Speaker, Charles Kerchner. Dr Kerschner has written four books on the LAUSD, and that will be his subject today. He got his bachelors from Illinois (which pleased PP STEVE SCHERER) and his PhD from Northwestern. During his career, he worked both in Journalism and Management at the St. Petersburg Times.
Dr. Kerschner began by noting that STEVE had promised NOT to talk about their antics while in High School together. He next recognized, his wife, Leanne, giving her credit for everything he has written. His formal talk began by stating that LAUSD has been in crisis for the last twenty years and that’s a very long to still be in crisis! The general theory about a crises is that it should bring people together, and once they gather round, they find ways to solve the problem but that hasn’t happened at LAUSD. He proposes to talk about how they got into this situation, and suggest ways that we can all agree upon to get out of it. He had a power point presentation which was helpful in emphasizing his message.
One of his books is entitled “Learning From LA”. Conventional wisdom is that LAUSD is hopeless, and cannot be fixed. However, he points out that they have done very well in adapting to the changing social environment in LA. How did our system get established? He starts in 1903, when LA had 100,000 inhabitants. The School Board was micromanaging - picking teachers to hire, visiting schools to observe them, and loaded with corruption. He named several early people who were important in Education, including Gaylord Wilshire, a real estate developer who got a street named for himself. Many changes occurred between 1903 and 1910, when the California State Constitution was enacted.
During this time, these movers and shakers wanted to keep politics out of Education. They wanted to pick superintendents based on their record, and they developed the idea of aptitude. They felt that some students had aptitude to absorb education, and others did not, and their job, therefore was to sort them out. This is shown in the well-know Bell Curve ratings. They developed the idea that the schools should be run locally, so the money raised was spent where it was raised. This general movement was called Progressivism.
Starting in the 1960’s, these ideas were sharply challenged. For 27 years after 1963, desegregation was a major issue here. Unions came into their own, becoming the only force that counted for the teachers. By 1979, we had decided to elect school board members by district, rather than citywide. Going back to 1960, the School district was in charge of its finances, its curriculum, its personnel and the means by which students were assessed. The school district controls none of these today.
Proposition 13 so reduced school taxes that the money soon came mostly from Sacramento. This brought in categorization, which means that funding comes in bits and pieces, only for specific needs. A graft showed enrollment of Caucasian students, starting in 1960 and going to 2004, in a steady decline. Latino students continued to climb, while African-American students actually declined a bit. One major difference in LA is that we did not get’ hollowed out’, since those leaving or moving were replaced by others moving in. Among other things, this meant that the low-income new residents considerably decreased the tax base, thus leaving schools badly short of funding. As a quick comparison, in Detroit the school population has shrunk so much that they still have enough money for education.
We came to believe that everyone should graduate from high school, despite the fact that today, only about 37% of high school students do, indeed, graduate. In the 1990’s a major, one hundred million dollar program was launched to revamp LA schools it took off, ascended, and then began to drift downward and finally, expire. It looked like we were heading from a school system to a system of schools. At this time, Charter Schools started to come in, and they had more local control. The other grand plans were tried, but only for seven years which isn’t long enough and they were then abandoned.
So, how do we get beyond this crisis problem? There are no simple answers if there were, we would have found them by now. We should all get involved LA is made up of neighborhoods, and thus we can exert influence within our limited areas. This problem can only be solved politically. Here is Kerchner’s Five Point Plan: Start your own local group, and get Council permission to manage locally. Send money directly to schools this allows them to make their own strategic decisions. Create some positive incentives for both teachers and administrators. Begin to impose technological methods in keeping with today’s technology. Admit that kids learn in different ways, and allow different approaches. Dr. Kerschner, we thank you for your most informative viewpoint.
Prexy ED has a final thought: From time immemorial the greatest of the great have proclaimed by word and deed their adherence to the doctrine which Rotary has summed up in the words, “Service Above Self”. Who should say that the Rotary goal is unattainable?.