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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rob't. Kennedy's Knowing Smile Shines at the Gateway to L.A.'s Best Investment in Decades: RFK Community Schools at the Ambassador Site

   a RoLA                          S                   e               r          i       e   s   

Los Angeles' New Ambassadors   
Six Schools on a Campus Like  no  Other   



Thom Senzee, dwarfed by the shadow of RFK.
Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, slain brother of also-assasinated Pres. John F. Kennedy, understood that government is supposed to be the common ground where human beings meet solve problems, share costs for the big things civilizations need in order to survive and thrive, and to band together against enemies as they come and go.

❝ each time a man stands for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. 

We hear so many throw-away assertions, nowadays, about how our government is the least of what makes the United States of America great and what makes this country's people so unique.  It's a very popular and, dare I say, fashionable point of view.  And so is has been for the past 30 or more years.  That's all of my adult life.  

The problem with the assumption that Americans have been and remain more free, more prosperous and more inventive than any other society in human history in spite of how we govern ourselves, is that it is absolutely wrong.  In fact, that perspective represents the epitome of missing the forest for the trees.  It is in fact our government's ability to be simultaneously run by those who decry its general "badness," 

Ask anyone from a country mired in endless civil wars, wretched poverty and hunger, sytemic corrutpion, violent oppression of women and minorities, institutional exploitation of certain classes if they believe the U.S. government with its strengths and weaknesses; its cost and size; or its very public vulnerabilities and shortcomings have anything to do with what makes ours the land toward which longing eyes point from lands with governments that are often (to borrow one of the revered business buzz phrases of all time) "lean and mean."

Business.  Business' goal is to profit.  Does anyone want a government looking to make a profit?  I didn't think so.  So, given that making money is not the reason we want our governments--federal, state and local--to exist; why do so many politicians keep acting like government should be run like a business?  The gossimer-thin considerations that lead some to the misconception that the U.S. Congress should act as savvy board members of a Fortune 500 company and that the president of the United States should behave like the CEO of the same firm must have to start lickety-split ticking of exceptions to that philosophical model of government.  

Take something as seemingly mundane as buildings for an example of what I mean:  Run the government like a Fortune 500 company, and you'd expect training campuses, i.e., public schools, to gleam be gleaming, luxurious towers, like the shimmering edifices that house their corporate counterparts.  Well?  If you want to run a successful business, you've got to look the part, right?  Can't have clients get the idea we're second rate.  Who are the government's clients by the way?  Taxpayers?  Well, no. We're the investors, I believe.  We don't want our own company selling us stuff; so, we're certainly not the customers...I digress.

Schools--public schools, that is, have mostly fallen into disrepair or at least just ugliness and bare-minimum upkeep during most of the past 25 years or so.  Meanwhile, banks, public corporations, media megalopolies and private companies have continued to be the beneficiaries of generous investment in their own infrastructures in the form of state-of-the-art technology and impressive headquarters across the nation.  

But, here in Los Angeles, there's a new story to be told about investment in public education, and perhaps surprisingly to some, the excitement among students that seems unmistakable to just about anyone who encounters students at any of the six schools of the Ambassador campus on Wilshire Blvd. , which sits on the site of, and uses some of the original construction of, the old Ambassador Hotel, where 1968 presidential candidate was shot dead.  The place is a temple to optimism and youth--just as Bobbie would have wanted it.  

Stay tuned as RoLA takes you to a the seat of public K-12 education's special new paradigm now open in the heart of the City of Angels.  

-Thom Senzee

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