If The Terminator Had Listened…
To the editor:
The SMC Board of Trustees deserves thanks for inviting Arnold Schwarzenegger as commencement speaker, not because of what he said but for forcing him to have to listen to opinions and questions different from those in his cloistered bubble of canned campaign events.
This governor assumed office by ousting the last governor who had serious shortcomings. Unfortunately, since taking office on a promise to work for the people and stop the perpetual campaigning and fund-raising, Arnold has made it clear that he only works for a few very select wealthy groups of people. Granted Grey Davis spent far too much time fund-raising and campaigning, but that is all Arnold does anymore.
And as far as Grey’s fund-raising, Arnold has not only broken the previous records, he has shattered them. Perhaps Grey could have done better if he were on steroids.
Instead of talking about himself during the commencement, Arnold could have learned a lot if he listened to the people on Pico Boulevard. He might have learned that California ranks 44th out of 50 states when it comes to per pupil spending for primary education. Or that California ranks 49th out of 50 states when it comes it class size. Or that we built over twenty prisons in the last two decades while building only one university. Or that prison guards make more than teachers, but of course, with the governor’s tuition increases, the teacher starts her job with any where from $70,000 to $150,000 worth of student debt while the prison guard only needs a high school diploma.
The paid campaign consultant who organized the handful of Arnold supporters at the commencement said our teachers are to blame for our struggling school system. Conveniently forgetting that a teacher’s responsibility and workload have increased exponentially over the last generation, while we have cut funding for supplies, teachers’ aides, art teachers and librarians. We are asking them to do significantly more with less and then complaining because they cannot do it as well as before. With all of the hurdles they face, it is amazing that they get the positive results that they do.
If only Arnold heard the disabled SMC student who talked about struggling to pay the 30 percent tuition increase this year, on top of the 30 percent tuition increase from last year. But as the student quipped, this “tax increase” would have been partially offset if he could afford a Hummer with its now lower registration fees.
Arnold could have explained why his campaign director was quoted saying to multimillionaire and billionaire contributors that in order to take pension benefits away from thousands of different people, the campaign team would have to “create anger toward government workers, nurses, teachers, firefighters and cops.” Arnold perhaps could tell us why he wants to “create anger” toward them, instead of thanking them for the difficult jobs they do.
Arnold could have tried to explain why he promised to fully fund our schools this year in exchange for a one billion dollar cut to last year’s budget, and what he was thinking when he reneged on this deal when the bill came due. Arnold could have also tried to explain to my five-year old, why promising to do one thing and then doing the opposite is not a lie, because that is how my kid defines it.
If Arnold had listened he could have heard the parents, neighbors and students who want and demand a decent education system and, yes, are even willing to pay for it. It is a shame that our governor talks but refuses to listen. To paraphrase another speaker, Arnold has been exposed as a radical right winger wearing a reform mask. So how does this all end?
I am reminded of an old action movie, where a cyborg from the future has come to our time and is out to kill a young, petite woman and her unborn child. The cyborg is relentless, she is warned, he cannot be talked to, he cannot be reasoned with, he will never stop until he destroys you, your child and everyone that gets in his way. But she does the only thing she can do, she fights back. And even though she is bloodied and badly beaten, she keeps fighting back until the cyborg is inches away from destroying her and her child, then she summons strength and courage from deep within herself and destroys the cyborg while proclaiming, “You’re terminated … [jerk]!”
All of us are like that woman, even though we are not movie stars, we are workers, nurses, teachers; firefighters, cops, parents and students and we have more strength and power buried deep within us than we even realize and we will prevail!
Joel C. Koury, Santa Monica
Deasy Gives Thanks
To the editor:
On Sunday June 5th, our community was extremely fortunate to experience a world-class concert that not only entertained thousands of spectators, but also raised much needed funding for music programs in the SMMUSD. The concert was held at Santa Monica High School’s Memorial Greek Theatre and featured Venice, Jackson Browne, and Ozomatli. It also involved many Santa Monica High School students as both student musicians and student ushers and volunteers. The concert was organized by the Guacomole Fund and directly benefited the Education Foundation’s For The Arts campaign.
The proceeds from the event will continue to fund the general music program at Title I elementary schools that were funded last year by the Jackson Browne and Venice concert at Barnum Hall. In addition, the proceeds will support the Dreamwinds program at John Adams Middle School and Lincoln Middle School. Dreamwinds is a program designed to offer free semi-private lessons to students of need.
Last but not least, the Education Foundation of Santa Monica-Malibu’s For The Arts endowment campaign will receive a donation towards fulfilling their goal of raising an endowment for the arts programs in the SMMUSD.
I would like to thank the members of Venice, Ozomatli, and Jackson Browne for making this incredible event a reality.
I would also like to thank For The Arts, the Education Foundation, the staff at Santa Monica High School, music teachers and members of the community that came out to support the cause of music and the arts in our public schools. We are so fortunate to have such wonderful music programs in the SMMUSD and, without the support of the community, it wouldn’t be possible.
John Deasy, Ph.D., Superintendent, SMMUSD