SEEKING WHOM THEY MAY DEVOUR: THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION

 As thousands of public school teachers rally today in Chicago, it is clear that they know the future of public education in this country is at stake. Despite media coverage that has failed to highlight the true nature of this fight, it is clear that teachers in Chicago and around the country are far from the lazy, money hungry pariahs that the neo-cons hope to paint them as.

In fact, their biggest concern right now is the same reason they got into the game in the first place – to teach young people. The points of contention between Chicago teachers and the school districts at this time all have to do with quality in education: class size, lack of books, the room to measure progress according to each student’s needs and enough job security to follow through on that promise.

Those who would privatize and commodify every last thing on God’s formerly-green earth are on the offensive, seeking whom and what they may devour.

I came across a video of Molly Meacham, a Chicago high school teacher. It’s entitled, “How a Political Poem was Bullied out of Me.”

The truth is that most teachers feel just this passion for their vocation. I have certainly known many who do — and many who have lost their jobs after years of service. This cannot be good for students. It takes a certain amount of time to gain the skills and experience to lead a classroom. It seems to me this is lesson one for a teacher. It is just plain crazy to remove teachers who have gained this skill and replace them with those who have yet to learn it.

Of course, I’m not saying we don’t need new teachers – but, the new can learn from the more experienced – just like in any job. When more senior teachers are removed for the sake of paying less in salary and benefits, everyone loses.

Now, the struggle has been ratcheted up; and, educators are forced to go to bat for the very existence of free education. As for me, I stand with Molly for the integrity of the public school system. All young people deserve a free and quality education.

Advertisements

A WORLD OF IMAGINATION: FREE OF CHARGE

One of my favorite places in the whole city is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A few days ago, I decided it was high time to spell out all the awesome deals on offer there. I’m not gonna lie, I was thinking I knew most everything there was to know about all that‘s available; but, I wanted to make sure. So, I met with Tim Digan, Director of Guest Services at LACMA.  Turns out I didn’t know the half of it.

I covered the Latin Sounds Music Series right here on Deals and Discounts. Many of you already know about the smokin’ jazz on Fridays and chamber music on Sundays — all with no dollars required.

They’ve also got a film series running year round in conjunction with Film Independent and the New York Times. Tickets for the general public range from free to $10 and free to $5 for LACMA members. The series includes new releases, classics, documentaries, and discussions with filmmakers. Sweet! You can purchase the entire film series as an add-on to membership for $50 for the whole year.

A Basic LACMA membership runs $90 for two, with an Indie Membership for singles at $50. Students pay only $25 annually. The museum offers several opportunities to take in the exhibits at no cost. Los Angeles residents can enter free from 3 to 5 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and from 3 to 8 pm on Fridays. Anyone can get in free on the second Tuesday of the month and that deal goes all the live long day. Target Free Holiday Mondays, sponsored the program’s namesake, gets you in free on any Monday that is also a federal holiday.

Guest artists and lecturers visit the campus often, presenting talks on all manner of interesting subjects, often for free. Go to (link- LACMA Calendar) – http://www.lacma.org/visit/calendar where you can click on any day and scroll through all the good stuff happening on that day.

The campus itself is truly a gem. Aside from the exhibits inside the museum itself, there is so much more to see. The grounds are absolutely beautiful. There’s plenty of lawn and trees, as well as ongoing outdoor art. Folks can go and have a picnic or just sit and read. There are several eateries, ranging in  price and free wi-fi is campus-wide.

LACMA is a great place for kids. In fact, there are over twice as many kid members as adults. The Arts for NextGen Program caters to these young members like nobody’s business. The program offers free entrance for anyone 18 or under as well as one accompanying adult.

On any given day, the Boone Children’s Gallery is abuzz with kids trying their hand at creating art. Upon arrival, kids receive a basic instruction on art making and then dive in. They are welcome to use as many materials as they wish and it is all free. Budding artists can take their creations home or leave them for display in the gallery. The walls are lined with the colorful creations of those who’ve come to enjoy this experience.

LACMA hosts dozens of special events. Guests of all ages will no doubt enjoy the KCRW Good Food Pie Contest coming up this Saturday. Last year, some 2,000 people attended this free event where celebrity judges pick the best pies. You can sample the pies and judge for yourself and you can even enter the contest for a $15 entry fee. If you wear your apron, you’ll not only look cute, you’ll also get free general admission. Delicious!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Tim let me in on a couple of little-known happenings going on at the museum. Seems there’s a real nifty gathering that takes place at Dagny Corcoran’s Art Catalogues Bookstore. When scheduled, it takes place on a Sunday at 4 pm in the Ahmanson building on Level 1. This salon-like artists’ dialog and reception is on the cutting edge in the city, with guests such as  John Baldessari and Jarrett Gregory. For now, it is absolutely free.

Another little known gem is the opening receptions that take place in the Art Rental and Sales Gallery. Here, the work of a juried selection of emerging Southern California artists is featured on a Saturday evening from 5 to 7 pm. You can rub elbows with the artists themselves and ask them about the source of their inspiration. All pieces are available for purchase or rent. Apparently this event has been going on since the 1950’s and has remained a primary source of fundraising for the museum. Keep an eye on the Calendar at the website to catch these groovy events.

For my money, I say LACMA is really something special. In these hard times, it’s good to find a place where a person can enjoy the gift of human expression in all its many forms — without paying an arm and a leg.

NEED TO KNOW:

Los Angeles County Museum of Art  5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (map) http://goo.gl/maps/YgHvA

LACMA is open every day except Wednesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas

Hours:  Monday 11 am–5 pm Tuesday 11 am–5 pm Wednesday Closed Thursday 11 am–5 pm Friday 11 am–8 pm Saturday 10 am–7 pm Sunday 10 am–7 pm

General Admission Tickets

A one-day pass to LACMA’s galleries and exhibitions, excluding specially ticketed shows

Members Free

Under 18 Free

Seniors & Students $10

Groups of 10+ $12

All other guests $15

Parking: LACMA’s lot is accessible from 6th Street and is not a deal at $10. Parking is free after 7 pm. There is plenty of metered street parking in the area as well as a lot of free street parking. Do observe “Permit Only” signage, as it is in abundance, but not everywhere.

(web) www.lacma.org

GEM OF THE CITY: THE LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY

Photo credit: Taken from the Mexican Revolution Exhibit running now through February 2013 at the Los Angeles Central Library

Our public library is really such a darn good deal, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, I decided to make a series of videos called Gem of the City: The Los Angeles Public Library. Because of its beauty and its vast collection of activities and material, I wanted to feature the Central Library especially. I made up my mind I was going to find out everything there was to know about the library from an expert. So, I arranged an appointment with a librarian with the help of the LAPL’s public relations specialist, Brenda Breaux.

Boy, it was hotter than Hades yesterday when my cameraman and I ventured on downtown to our destination. My air conditioning is out in my car and I have to tell you, when I stepped across that threshold into the library, I was relieved! I’d say another perk for hanging out at the library during these sweltering days is the air conditioning!

When we got there, we were delighted to find that we actually had an appointment with the acting director of the Central Library, Ms. Giovanna Mannino. She knows just about everything there is to know about the library; and, she filled us in on all of it during our stay.

While we were there, we saw three exhibits the library has on display right now. The first was “Treasures of Los Angeles,” which is ongoing in the Annenberg Gallery and contains part of a larger Hollywood exhibit that is on display at the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Branch. Next we took a peek at “A Nation Emerges: The Mexican Revolution Revealed,” and “As the City Grew: Historical Maps of Los Angeles.”

All in all, it was a fun and educational afternoon. You’ll find out all about it by watching the videos! It was also free. We did have to pay for the parking: $9 for a little over two hours. If you really want to spend some time at the Central Library, I would recommend taking the train. The Metro Blue Line and Metro Red Line both have stops near the library. You can walk just a few blocks. It’s fun, especially if you ever lived in New York City. You can pretend you are back there for a minute.

I hope readers enjoy this series on our public library and continue to support the library and all of the wonderful and vitally needed resources it provides in these hard times.

NEED TO KNOW:

Central Library  630 W. 5th Street, 90071 (map) http://goo.gl/maps/8RmnZ

Phone: 213-228-7000Hours: Mon. 10-5:30, Tue. 10-8, Wed. 10-5:30, Thu. 10-8, Fri. 10-5:30, Sat. 10-5:30, Sun. Closed

Validated Parking Rates

$1.00 for 1st hour (or portion thereof) $1.00
$4.00 for 2nd hour (or portion thereof) $5.00
$4.00 for 3rd hour (or portion thereof) $9.00
$4.15 including tax per 10 minutes thereafter $37.60 Maximum including tax
Cars entering after 3:00 p.m. (until Library Closing) $1.00 Flat rate
Saturday (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) $1.00 Flat rate

YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY: INFORMATION AND INSPIRATION – FREE OF CHARGE

When I was a little kid, my school used to conduct bomb drills. Our teacher would line us up along the wall of the corridor where we were taught to do our best to protect our heads by crouching down with our heads between our knees and placing our interlaced fingers across the back of our heads. This was all in case the Russians decided to bomb us to smithereens for no reason except for that they were jealous of our freedom.

I guess the school administration was only acting in step with a national program for “preparedness,” the creator of which, I imagine, was unaware of the policy of Peaceful Co-Existence the Soviet Union adhered to at the time.

In the small town where I went to school, this practice took place for several years and well into the 1970’s.

Another exercise our class did was to line up in orderly fashion and walk single file to the public library next door. In my view, this was a far more pleasant experience. Of course, I always hoped I would get to walk over to the library next to the boy I liked, but once I got there, I didn’t really care. There were all those books.

On top of that, it always felt so cozy and comfortable in the library where everybody is supposed to act nice. They never conducted their terrifying bomb drills in the library.

Ever since that time, I have loved to be in libraries. As a result, I’ve also loved to read. Now an adult, living in the great city of Los Angeles, I’ve learned  that, although it is battle-weary from more and more budget cuts, the public library system still offers one of the best deals around.

I’ve since also learned that books aren’t the only thing you can use for free at the public library. You can also borrow CDs, DVDs, and books on tape. If you go to the downtown Central Library, you can look at microfilms of headlines and articles from any date you can think of, taken from newspapers around the world.

The various branches have comfy seating and free wi-fi too. How much better can it get as far as writing or researching?! You can poke around on the web all you want, and go over and find all manner of reference materials right there on site. The Los Angeles Times articles are all digitally archived and accessible at the various branches online.

Each branch has got all kinds of informative and fun events and workshops going on too. The Central Library has several exhibits going on right now, including one on the Treasures of Los Angeles and one on the Mexican Revolution. I’ll be reporting with video on some of these events very soon!

Recently, a friend of mine needed a whole lot of study materials to get ready for state and federal licensure exams. He’s recently unemployed and could hardly afford to buy all those books. He was getting ready to head over to the thrift stores in the hopes that they would be there. Not a bad idea, especially because you get to own the books; but the thrift stores are hit and miss if you need something specific. He ended up getting everything he needed right at the public library.

That’s a deal that can’t be beat in these hard times.

NEED TO KNOW:

There are libraries in every neighborhood in Los Angeles. Hours vary. There is usually some free parking AND free wi-fi!

Web: (link) www.lapl.org