The Rosebowl is on as I type (Go Trojans! Fight on!), so I want to draw your attention to a rather winningly encouraging commercial that will be running at some point during said bowl game.
(Pete Carroll rules! Trojan defense is awsome! Must stop Derrick Williams! In the nicest possible way, of course. Fight on! ….ahem. Sorry.)
The commercial features students from ICEF Public Schools, a South LA charter school group that operates 13 schools serving 3000 of LA’s minority kids. Founded in 1999, ICEF—which stands for Inner City Education Foundation—takes kids from low-performing urban areas, and has an impressive record of academic success.
For instance, in 2007, ICEF graduated its first senior class from the View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter High School and sent 100% of its graduating class of 71 kids to college—-This in our fair city where the LA-wide public school graduation rate hovers at a dismal 50 percent and only 10 percent of south LA seniors go on to college. Actor Don Cheadle gave the keynote address at the graduation.
According to its statement of purpose, ICEF Public Schools “will transform South Los Angeles into a stable, economically vibrant community by providing first-rate educational opportunities and annually graduating 2,000 high school students.”
In other words, ICEF along with Green Dot and others are working to remake the education possibilities in Los Angeles, inspite of the ongoing blockades thrown up by LAUSD.
After years and years of so many of LA’s children being allowed—to our shame and heartbreak—to slip through the educational cracks, these break-throughs in the charter school world this past year, are a source of much welcomed good news.
The bad news is that the lovely 30-second commercial is funded by Citigroup. In other words, some part of our $326 billion in tax dollars bailout of the self-same Citi-folks was used to buy this high ticket commercial. (A Super Bowl spot costs $3 mil these days. I’m sure a Rose Bowl spot is cheaper, but still…..)
Interestingly, originally the commercial was going to be billed as a “Chairman’s message,” but Citigroup wisely decided to back-out of the limelight and merely let the schools and the kids shine, rightly deducing I suspect, that otherwise the spot would draw exactly the criticism I am leveling.
A better use of bucks than executive bonuses, I suppose. (I notice that on Wednesday, new Citigroup chairman, Vikrim Pandit announced that the companies top executives would be forgoing bonuses this year. Nice of them. A little late, since in 2007, the year in which many of the decisions were made that led Citigroup into this year’s trillion dollar catastrophe, the companies top executive officers earned more that $70 million in compensation.)
Citigroup aside, looking into the faces of these smart, beautiful kids—-who represent all the kids nationwide whom our future rides—-seems like an excellent way to begin 2009. They remind us what is possible—-and what, in the end, really matters.
Happy New Year, everyone!
7-0 7-7 14-7 24-7 31-7 38-24! Go Trojans. Go Mark Sanchez! Woo-hooo!!!
Also, Go OU, and then let’s take a long hard look at who should be declared the national champions damn-it! Fight on!)