Marian Wright Edelman Delivers Stirring Speech

By Max Wynn
UCLA Luskin Student Writer 

Marian Wright Edelman, the second speaker in the 2013-14 UCLA Luskin Lecture Series, delivered a stirring call to action to the community members, city leaders, educators and students who had gathered to hear her speak on Wednesday.

Edelman is the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, as well a veteran of the civil rights movement, and her speech at the California African American Museum emphasized that child advocacy and the struggle for social equity were inseparably linked.

Click here to see Edelman’s “The Art of Leadership video”

Edelman described child advocacy as a marathon, but there was a sense of urgency as she outlined the issues facing America’s children and the nation as a whole.

“If we don’t break up that cradle to prison pipeline we are going to lose the last 50, 60 years of social progress,” she said. “We’ve got to replace massive incarceration and private prisons with early child education and health care and good schools.

“If we don’t save our children we cannot save this nation’s future,” she said.

Having established the critical role of child advocacy in securing a stronger and more equitable United States, Edelman declared that it was time for a movement. She emphasized throughout the night that for the nation’s children to overcome the formidable obstacles they face, Americans must share a renewed dedication to serving the greater good.

In his introductory remarks, Duane Dennis, the executive director of the child advocacy group Pathways, and a commissioner of First 5 LA, explained that to really know Marian Wright Edelman is to understand the value she places in service.

“Service is the rent we pay for being, it is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time” he read, quoting her words. He went on to say that “her service, her life, her very being has enriched us all.”

As the lecture drew to a close Edelman told the story of a dinner party Dr. Martin Luther King attended less than a year before his death. Dr. King shocked the guests at the party by stating that he feared that they were integrating into a burning house. He feared that the country was going to be undone by extreme materialism, extreme militarism, and extreme racism. All there was to be done, he said, was to go out there and be firemen, to sound the alarm.

“I want to tell you that it’s time to get out there and sound the alarm” Edelman said, her voice growing louder. “This is a dangerous time, but we can turn danger into hope.”

Following the lecture, as the audience filed out of the auditorium many stayed behind to chat or have their picture taken with Edelman. One audience member turned to her friend and, with a palpable sense of joy, compared talking to Edelman with meeting Dr. King.

The Luskin Lecture Series is designed to enhance public discourse on topics relevant to today’s societal needs. Bringing renowned public intellectuals and scholars together with national and local leaders, the Luskin Lecture Series presents issues that are changing the way our country addresses its most pressing problems. For more information on upcoming Luskin Lecture Series events, please click here.

Turning a Home’s Waste Water into a Resource

As featured in a recent story on KCRW-89.9 FM’s “Which Way, LA?,” Professor Yoram Cohen and doctoral student Zita Yu, along with colleagues including Professor Michael Stenstrom, developed a low-cost technology that turns graywater waste into a residential resource. Named the Gray2Blue Mobile Wetland System, the technology has been at use in a home in West Los Angeles as part of a demonstration project supported by the Luskin Center. The system filters the home’s “graywater” – soapy water from sinks, showers and laundry – and pipes it out again to irrigate citrus trees and vegetable gardens. Plants are also a part of the system itself, helping to filter the graywater.

Roughly about 50 percent of the water that is used in a home ends up as greywater,” said UCLA engineering professor Yoram Cohen. “And if we can reuse that water, you can immediately see that the savings in water is going to be tremendous.” Cohen and Yu are now presenting their results to local and state water, health and zoning officials to inform decisions on how to regulate the further use of graywater in southern California.  The results include data from a financial assessment supported by J.R. DeShazo, an environmental economist and director of the Luskin Center.   All of this could mean that one day in the not so distant future, you too could turn the water going down your sink into a resource  your plants will love. Internationally, other cities are also starting to take notice. Yu, who was recently selected as a C200 Scholar by the prestigious Committee of 200 Foundation, presented on the regulation, technology and economics of onsite graywater reuse to the Water Supplies Department and its Advisory Board in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is considering including graywater into their water portfolio.

The Art of Leadership: William Bratton

Former Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department William J. Bratton is our latest in the series, “The Art of Leadership.”

Prior to speaking during the Luskin Lecture Series, Bratton discussed his ideas and thoughts on the subject of leadership, a subject that is important to UCLA Luskin. Leadership is one of the many things the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs emphasizes for its students with the Leadership Initiative, pairing tomorrow’s leaders with the leaders of today.

To see the Luskin School’s other Art of Leadership interviews, please visit our YouTube page.

 

Bratton Opens Luskin Lecture Series With Lively Talk

By Max Wynn
UCLA Luskin Student Writer
 

Former Los Angeles police chief William J. Bratton kicked off the new academic year’s UCLA Luskin Lecture Series last week with a speech that highlighted the ability of the police to be a force for positive social change. 

Community members and city leaders joined UCLA students, alumni and faculty at the Japanese American National Museum in Downtown Los Angeles to hear the former Chief speak. Bratton’s lecture linked the experiences of his 40 years of police work, during which he has also served as Police Commissioner in Boston and New York, with the evolution of the profession as a whole.

In no small part thanks to Chief Bratton’s contributions, policing has moved from responding to crimes that were committed, to preventing those crimes and improving the communities in which they occur. Crime prevention, and the importance of the relationship between the police and the community, were key elements of both his speech and the policies he implemented during his time as Los Angeles’ Chief of Police, which lasted from 2002-09.

LAPD Bureau Chief and UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs board member Gerald Chaleff said, during his introductory remarks, that these policies have “made the Los Angeles police department into a place where everyone else in law enforcement now comes to learn and be trained.”

Chief Bratton’s policies reduced crime in Los Angeles and repaired the reputation of the police department, but he believes that quality policing can have an even greater impact. 

“If we the police get it right in delivering public safety in a way that we build trust, in a way that improves race relationships, in a way that improves our efficiency,” he said, “then we are effectively a force multiplier for expanding on all the promises of democracy that go back to the creation of our country, and our constitution, and our Declaration of Independence.”

Throughout his speech Chief Bratton repeated his mantra “cops count, police matter”, and as his speech drew to a close he built upon this phrase, adding that “we can matter so much more if we do it the right way.”

Following the lecture Frank D. Gilliam Jr., Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, joined Chief Bratton on stage. The two had a conversation about a wide range of topics, among them terrorism, gun control, trends in crime statistics, and how to best enforce stop-and-frisk policies.

The Luskin Lecture Series continues with “A Conversation with Marian Wright Edelman.” The civil rights activist and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund will be speaking on December 4th at the California African American Museum. For more information and to RSVP, please click here.

The Luskin Lecture Series is designed to enhance public discourse on topics relevant to today’s societal needs. Bringing renowned public intellectuals and scholars together with national and local leaders, the Luskin Lecture Series presents issues that are changing the way our country addresses its most pressing problems. For more information on upcoming Luskin Lecture Series events, please click here.

 

Akee Appointed to U.S. Census Panel

Public Policy professor Randall Akee has been named to the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations.

The panel, which includes academics, civic leaders and executives on its roster, helps the Census Bureau ensure it accurately counts racial and ethnic minorities in its surveys and programs. According to the Bureau, members of the committee “are chosen to serve based on their expertise and knowledge of the cultural patterns, issues and/or statistical needs of “hard-to-count” populations.”

Akee was appointed an assistant professor at UCLA Luskin and American Indian Studies earlier this year, having previously held professorships at Tufts University and UC Berkeley. He has researched labor economics, migration and development across several Native American, Canadian and Pacific Islander communities.

Akee is one of 10 committee appointees announced today. He begins his term Aug. 1.

Social Welfare Presentation — Fast Cars and Battle Scars: Understanding the Modern Combat Veteran and PTSD Army veteran Andrew Nicholls speaks on military social work

By Ramin Rajaii
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

How is a military man supposed to assimilate back into society following a traumatic experience abroad?

UCLA senior Andrew Nicholls served eight years in the U.S. Army, including a year in Iraq, providing him with a unique perspective on the subject.

Now, he’s sharing his firsthand perspectives about the military and combat through a UCLA psychology course entitled, “Fast Cars and Battle Scars: Understanding the Modern Combat Veteran and PTSD,” the purpose for which is raising awareness of what it is like to serve and return to civilian society.

On Tuesday afternoon, Nicholls spoke on the subject at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, in a lunchtime chat presented by the Social Welfare department to promote military social work.

Nicholls led a discussion regarding the seminar, and various ways in which we can re-forge hope for war veterans.

Combat veterans make up 9% of the U.S. population. In their training, they must endure both extremely high mental and physical standards. As a result, returning to an entirely different world from which you have been disconnected is a near insurmountable task.

“You’ve been on an adrenaline rush the entire time,” Nicholls said, “Then you get home to a mundane life, and a lot of guys start racing motorcycles, skydiving and finding other thrill-seeking activities.”

Without such outlets, many veterans suffer from severe cases of PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder, experiencing everything from their ears ringing spontaneously and tunnel vision to a sudden inability to breathe.

In the talk, Nicholls emphasized that civilians must recognize war veterans for having provided service to their countries, and in so doing, military members have “written a check up to and including their lives.”

Nicholls is teaching the course through the UCLA Undergraduate Student Initiated Education Program, which enables outstanding juniors and seniors in the College of Letters and Science to develop and teach a one-unit seminar, under faculty supervision.

The class also will cover the experience of basic training, unique issues facing female veterans and how military training prepares prospective soldiers to kill.

 

Debra Duardo Named Social Welfare Alumna of the Year Debra Duardo, a 1996 Master of Social Welfare graduate from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and LAUSD Student Health Director, has been selected to receive the Joseph A. Nunn Award

By Joe Luk

Debra Duardo, a 1996 Master of Social Welfare graduate from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, has been selected to receive the Joseph A. Nunn Award, honoring her as the department’s Alumna of the Year. The award will be presented to Duardo in a ceremony on Saturday, April 20.

The Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year award recognizes outstanding social work professionals who have contributed leadership and service to the school, university, and/or community, and who have otherwise distinguished themselves through commitment and dedication to a particular area of social work.

Duardo is currently the executive director of student health and human services for Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the United States. As the executive director she is responsible for the administrative oversight of support services and district programs designed to address the physical health, mental health, and home and community barriers that prevent student academic success, including student medical services, school nursing, pupil services, dropout prevention and recovery, school mental health, community partnerships, and Medi-Cal programs.

In this role she manages a $100 million budget and over 3,000 employees including directors, specialists, pupil services and attendance counselors, psychiatric social workers, nurses, organization facilitators, and healthy start coordinators.

After graduating from UCLA with a major in Women Studies and Chicana/o Studies in 1994 Duardo earned her Master of Social Welfare degree at UCLA in 1996 with a specialization in school social work. Since that time she has earned her school administrative credential and is currently completing her Ed.D. in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Following completion of her MSW, Debra started her career serving as a school social worker and the Healthy Start project director at Wilson High School.

She advanced to being the LAUSD Healthy Start District Administrator. Since that time she has served as assistant principal at Le Conte Middle School, the director of dropout prevention and recovery for LAUSD, and director of pupil services for LAUSD.  Through all of these positions she has maintained her focus on the important of health and social services for children and families.

The Joseph A. Nunn Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year award was established to honor Joseph A. Nunn, former director of field education at the Department of Social Welfare at UCLA. Dr. Nunn brought leadership and service to UCLA and the Social Welfare program at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs for over two decades. Dr. Nunn received his B.S., M.S.W. and Ph.D. degrees from UCLA. After working as a probation officer for 15 years, he became a member of the field education faculty in 1980, and except for a three-year, off-campus appointment, remained at UCLA until his retirement in 2006. During his last 15 years, he served with distinction as the director of field education and, simultaneous for the last decade, as vice chair of the Department of Social Welfare, where he supervised the field education program.

A Secure Retirement for All Americans

By Ramin Rajaii
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

“What kind of America do you want?”

This was the question posed by A. Barry Rand at the latest UCLA Luskin Lecture Series event. Rand is the CEO of AARP, the world’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals over the age of 50.

“For us at AARP,” Rand said, “we want a society in which everyone lives with dignity and purpose, achieves their dreams, and enjoys lifelong financial security. Every individual should have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream, whether they are young or old.”

Rand believes that discussions regarding the future of aging in America have never been more pertinent; as the nation undergoes changes in health policy, we are pressed to contemplate their impacts on an aging society.

According to Rand, the idea of old age was transformed from a “life in purgatory” to a desired destination beginning in the 1950s. At once, old age became known as “leisure years,” a reward for a lifetime of hard work.

Changing demographics are challenging the reward of retirement, Rand said. “America is experiencing a dramatic change. This is the first time that minorities account for over half of all births in the past twelve months,” he said. “By 2030, racial and ethnic minorities will be 42% of the US population. This new ethnographic makeup becomes new ‘American mainstream’ – where minorities become the majority in the aging population.”

The goal of AARP, outlined by Rand, is primarily to help the growing aging population make a contribution to society while allowing them to be financially prosperous after retirement. In his eyes, three main strategies need to be employed.

First, as social security remains a critical foundation for income security, AARP seeks to promote a full-blown discussion of how it contributes to the wellbeing of older Americans, and how it can be modified to improve effectiveness.

Second, Rand believes it critical to continue lowering growth and healthcare spending system wide – a major tenet of the Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010.

Finally, “in order to thrive and take advantage of life possibilities,” Rand explained, “people need to live in age-friendly communities.” From his perspective, the nation needs to become more welcoming to residents of all ages.

When asked what AARP should do to position themselves as national advocates for the growing U.S. aging population, Rand succinctly summarized their mission: “We strive to help people have access to affordable healthcare and be financially secure. We are focused on how to be creative in getting the costs down, while ensuring that all generations have the ability to enjoy social security benefits.”

Rand has long fought for social change. He has served as chairman and chief executive officer of Avis Group Holdings, CEO of Equitant Ltd., and executive vice president, Worldwide Operations, at Xerox Corporation.

Read Rand’s remarks (PDF)

The Luskin Lecture Series enhances public discourse on topics relevant to the betterment of society. The Series features renowned public intellectuals, bringing together scholars as well as national and local leaders to address society’s most pressing problems. 

Villaraigosa: “Education is the civil rights issue of our time”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent John Deasy made an impassioned case for improving public education in Los Angeles at the latest UCLA Luskin Lecture Series event on Wednesday night.

The event – coming the day after city elections that narrowed the field of mayoral hopefuls and saw nearly $6 million in outside spending on races for three school board seats – served as a chance for Villaraigosa and Deasy to chart a course for the next administration. Villaraigosa’s final term ends June 30.

“The next mayor of L.A. has to understand that there’s not really an option,” Villaraigosa said. “He or she absolutely needs to be involved in the success of our schools.”

Since he took office eight years ago, Villaraigosa has spent much of his tenure trying to improve performance at the nation’s second-largest school district. He made an early-term attempt to wrest control of the LAUSD board – an effort that ultimately was defeated in court. Through the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, he implemented reforms at 22 of the district’s worst-performing schools, improving student performance and parent engagement. The mayor’s advocacy of parent-trigger laws gave parents greater control over the administration of troubled schools, at the expense of union protections for teachers. 

Although Deasy took the top job at LAUSD less than two years ago, he has helped implement Villaraigosa’s efforts, pushing reforms in charter schools and teacher performance evaluations.

“We’ve got to make it easier to get better teachers,” Deasy said.

In addition to focusing on teacher performance, Deasy has worked to improve student achievement through careful analysis of data. When statistics on student suspensions painted a bleak picture of school safety – suspensions are intended only for violence and other serious problems, Deasy said – he met with school leadership to learn more. 

“The tiniest fraction of suspensions were for serious issues,” Deasy said, “but an overwhelming proportion were for ‘defiance.'” Administrators were keeping students away from school for low-level problems, such as failing to bring materials or “answering in a defiant tone,” Deasy said.

Since increasing student performance depends on consistent student attendance, and minority populations have been shown to be suspended at higher rates than their peers, Deasy told administrators to suspend students only as a last resort. As a result, suspensions went down 50 percent.

Deasy said the episode was a lesson that school reform is incredibly complex.

“I learned that we didn’t have a drop-out problem. We had a push-out problem,” he said. “We were forcing these kids out.” Only by focusing on the ultimate goal of providing high-quality education for every LAUSD student could reform be achieved, he said.

“When you pay attention and want to drill down, you can instigate positive change,” Deasy said.

Villaraigosa said the stakes for the city are incredibly high. A quality education system that serves every Angeleno is key to the future success of the city, he said.

“This is the civil rights issue of our time. It’s the democracy issue of our time. It’s the economic issue of our time.

“It matters.”

The Luskin Lecture Series is designed to enhance public discourse on topics relevant to today’s societal needs. Bringing renowned public intellectuals and scholars together with national and local leaders, the Luskin Lecture Series presents issues that are changing the way our country addresses its most pressing problems. For more information on upcoming Luskin Lecture Series events, please click here.

 

Sadik-Khan: Change “Can Be Done”

If city leaders clearly articulate a vision and pursue it in ways that rely on constant public engagement, transformational change is possible.

That was the message delivered by New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan Feb. 28, as part of the UCLA Luskin Lecture Series. Sadik-Khan spoke to an audience of more than 200 transportation planners and advocates at the 2013 UCLA Complete Streets Conference, an annual gathering produced by the UCLA Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies.

In a talk that touched on nearly every aspect of a “complete street” — pedestrians, bicycles, buses, plazas and parks, as well as private vehicles — Sadik-Khan reported on her five years as head of transportation in America’s largest city. Throughout her tenure, she said, change has been at the forefront of her job.

“These streets have been unexamined for too long,” she said. “We should be designing streets for 2013, not 1963.”

Sadik-Khan has overseen a major revitalization of the ways New Yorkers get around their city. Beginning with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “PlaNYC” strategic document, Sadik-Khan has put into place a program of expanded amenities for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users while continuing to perform the tasks traditionally associated with a city transportation department — improving bridges, maintaining streets and filling potholes. “We’ve worked hard to bring balance back to the streets of New York,” she said.

In working for what she described as “a very data-driven mayor,” she has relied on a steady stream of surveys, evaluations and data analysis. When the city decided to close Times Square to vehicles and turn it into a pedestrian plaza, the administration was able to point to GPS data from New York’s 13,000 taxicabs to show that traffic had actually improved as a result of the closure. Pedestrian safety also improved, as did economic performance — Times Square is now one of the highest valued retail spaces in the world, Sadik-Khan said.

Other improvements across the city saw similar results. There were 47 percent fewer commercial vacancies after the city installed bike lanes along First Avenue. On streets where bus service has been refigured, retail sales have gone up 71 percent. “These are improvements of safety, livability and strong economic performance,” Sadik-Khan said.

Key to the success of her plans was the ability to implement change quickly and tangibly. “Change used to take years,” she said. “Now with paint, stones and street furniture, we can changes things overnight.” The improvements help the public see the potential of big ideas and accustom themselves to change.

“It’s not a rendering, it’s a real-world model,” Sadik-Khan said. “It lets people touch and point to it and say ‘I want that.'”

 

The Luskin Lecture Series is designed to enhance public discourse on topics relevant to today’s societal needs. Bringing renowned public intellectuals and scholars together with national and local leaders, the Luskin Lecture Series presents issues that are changing the way our country addresses its most pressing problems. For more information on upcoming Luskin Lecture Series events, please click here.