Over lunch, I’d like to share with you some thoughts on some recent LA-centric items in the news:
Former Teacher Michelle King Named First Black Woman to Head LAUSD
Before I explain why I’m so pleased with this selection, a bit of bio from the article:
According to the district, King attended Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools and Palms Junior High School. She graduated from Palisades High School and attended UCLA.
She began her teaching career at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills, teaching math and science, before becoming the math, science and aerospace coordinator at Wright Middle School in Westchester. She later served as assistant principal and principal at Hamilton High School in Cheviot Hills.
She served as Cortines’ chief of staff during his previous administration, then as a deputy under Superintendent John Deasy and again under Cortines following Deasy’s departure.
First, I’ll note that King and I went to the same high school, and we even went at the same time (I was class of ’77; she was Michelle Brewster in the class of ’79). I don’t believe I knew her, alas, but I’ve got the feeling that a number of my friends did (including the sister of one of my best friends). She also taught at the Junior High I attended (for 7th grade): Wright in Westchester. She’s also a UCLA grad!
Further, note what she taught: math and science, and then coordinated math, science, and aerospace. This means she is a technical woman, and knows the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). She also taught at Hamilton High, which has a performing arts magnet — meaning she likely understands the value of the arts as well. STEAM, in one package.
Next, note that she taught in both the valley and in the city, meaning the needs of the valley will be understood. She doesn’t appear to have experience in the inner city (the set of schools at which she attended or taught are mostly middle-class), but you can’t have it all.
She’s a product of the glory days of LAUSD (at least defined by when I went there), and knows what LAUSD is capable of.
Most importantly, she’s a great face for diversity and success. She’s a black woman leader, and I know from working at a company with a similar leader the value that such leadership can have in inspiring young woman today, and making the statement that with hard work, anything is possible.
Ms. King — best of luck in making LAUSD the best district in the nation.
NFL will return to Los Angeles for 2016 season
Now, I’m not a person who follows professional sports, or who even watches football, baseball, basketball, or hockey games with any frequency, or even at all. But the return of the Rams to Los Angeles just feels right. After starting in Cleveland in 1936, the Rams moved to Los Angeles in 1946, becoming the first NFL team to play in Los Angeles. They also became the first integrated professional football team during their first year in Los Angeles, when they signed Kenny Washington on March 21, 1946. (As a side note: Kenny Washington was one of four black players on the 1939 UCLA Football Team … another being Jackie Robinson, the man responsible for integrating professional baseball with a team that would later move to Los Angeles).
The Rams played in Los Angeles until 1980 (34 years), and I remember well driving past their headquarters on Pico Blvd in West LA. They then moved to Anaheim in 1980, and then departed for St. Louis in 1994. That’s a total of 48 years in Southern California. They were in St. Louis for only 20 years. Much as I love St. Louis, the Rams are really LA’s team.
Further, they are getting a new stadium without any public financing, and a stadium that will also be able to house NFL West Coast operations. I may not care about football, but I do care about Southern California — and that will be a significant economic driver for Inglewood and the surrounding communities both in year-round employment, support operations, and tourist dollars.
As for the other teams in the deal: I’m glad the Raiders are on the bottom. I remember them during their years here. They really didn’t have civic loyalty, and they projected an image that I wasn’t crazy about. More importantly, just like the Rams were never really STL, the Raiders were never really LA. The Raiders were born in Oakland (1960), came to LA in 1982 and left back for Oakland in 1996. That’s 14 years in LA, vs. almost 42 years in Oakland. They are an Oakland team, and their home should be Oakland. Hopefully, their owner can figure out a way to reconcile with the city and get a new stadium there; if not, I hear St. Louis wants to build a stadium. Musical teams, anyone?
With respect to the Chargers: although they started in LA in 1960, they’ve been in San Diego since 1961. Ideally, the approval to be the second team plus the 100 million from the NFL might help San Diego get off its collective tush and build them a suitable stadium. They are a great draw for Orange County and San Diego. If not, well the new Inglewood stadium has room for two.