Key Perspectives

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  1. California's controller announced last week that the state is $705 million short of its budget projections, which probably will trigger more spending cuts. You or someone close to you will be negatively affected by these dramatic cuts. They will hurt. For some, they will cause irreversible pain.
  2. The crisis in Los Angeles public schools — where only about half of the students graduate from high school and fewer than 30% of those who do are college-ready — can't be solved until we make excellent teaching a top priority. Teacher quality alone can't solve the problem, but every child in every school in every neighborhood must have an effective teacher.
  3. California State University, facing the possible loss of $1 billion in state funding, could close 10 campuses, turn away 85,000 students or eliminate financial aid for 100,000. In times like these, colleges and universities must consider their core missions and prioritize.
  4. In Culver City last month, Zackariah Lehnen was charged with the murder of a young woman and an elderly man who were stabbed and beaten to death. In Los Angeles last July, Javier Rueda shot and injured two Los Angeles Police Department officers before he was fatally shot. What's the connection between these violent incidents?
  5. We have watched a series of disasters sweep through the nation this spring, taxing the emergency services of states and the federal government. In Joplin, Mo., one of the scariest scenarios occurred when the tornado that leveled a third of the city also knocked out one of its main hospitals, St. John's Regional Medical Center, at the exact moment when hospital care was needed most.
  6. June 15 is D-Day for the California Legislature. It’s the Constitutional deadline for passing a balanced state budget. And it is an opportunity to pull our State out of the financial and economic morass we find ourselves in today.
  7. Fifteen years of research makes clear that classroom teachers are the most important in-school factor in a student's academic success. Study after study has shown that having an effective teacher can literally make or break a child's chances for success. This is especially true for our most vulnerable students, including low-income students and minority students.
  8. 'The real issue here is the fact that schoolchildren, the elderly and the poor are going to be crushed if these reckless Republicans don't get their act together and make a reasonable deal for the good of the people," said a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown recently.
  9. Whether in the pursuit of grants, or in the process of raising awareness for our work, I confront and recount staggering statistics and grim realities each day. Staggering statistic: one in five children in the United States lives in poverty. Grim reality: our measure of the federal poverty line is outdated and no longer relevant.
  10. Since its formation, Los Angeles County has been home to diverse people and cultures. This diversity has changed constantly over time and is now recognized as a source of the region’s unique character, vitality and promise.
  11. The work of most of us in the nonprofit world can be boiled down to one essential: we are striving to improve the health of our communities. That’s our ultimate goal, whether we’re literally providing health and human services, working to save the environment, or fighting for social justice. At the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, we do all of these things (OK…I’m using some artistic license on saving the environment; but we do recycle).
  12. After years of gimmicks, trickery and Ponzi schemes, the state of California finally has its back against the wall. The heinous taxes imposed by our spending-addicted state are going to expire June 30. That will infuse $26 billion into our terminally ill economy, slightly increasing its life expectancy and treating our financially stressed residents to a tax holiday.
  13. Exports are the key to putting America back on track in the global economy. Only 1 percent of U.S. companies are exporting. Yet with more than 1 billion new middle class consumers expected over the next 15 years, U.S. businesses will have global market opportunities unparalleled in human history. The challenge is to seize this moment by implementing a national export strategy that will truly lifts all boats.
  14. Often times, the art of leadership and social change starts with getting people to see the world around them in new ways. For example, take the subject of health, which is the focus of our work at The California Endowment. If you ask people to define health, most people will say health insurance or perhaps health care reform. But research has shown definitively that neighborhood environments play a much larger role in health than whether you can see a doctor when you’re sick.
  15. The approval by the Los Angeles City Council last week of the $1.2 billion Wilshire Grand redevelopment project at 7th and Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles is an example of how to escape from a recession and begin creating jobs again. Here is the formula:
  16. It was an audacious and characteristically Californian act. In 1891 the nation was gripped by the worst economic downturn in decades, and California was especially hard hit with the collapse of a real estate boom. Trains that had arrived daily from the East loaded with immigrants were returning crammed with those who found the California Dream as illusionary as the bank loans they had been promised. State government was in turmoil.
  17. It goes without saying: California desperately needs jobs. With unemployment hovering above 12% — second highest in the nation — too many Californians are living with the physical and psychological stress of being unemployed and living without any hope of a way out.
  18. San Diego is home to one of the most vibrant economies in the country and part of what makes our region so prosperous is its proximity to the Mexican border.
  19. It goes without saying: California desperately needs jobs. With unemployment hovering above 12% — second highest in the nation — too many Californians are living with the physical and psychological stress of being unemployed and living without any hope of a way out.
  20. The recent devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan are grim reminders of the crucial importance of advance individual and community preparation for disasters and emergencies that could strike any community.