Sunday, February 20, 2011

SUPER SUPPORT FOR EDUCATION …or after the football, commercials and the Black Eyed Peas let’s solve the problems of Public Education in L.A.

By Patt DiRoll, Pasadena Star News Social Reporter |

Cherna Gitnick, Fulfillment Fund CEO Andrea Cockrum, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Lu Parker and Dr. Gary Gitnick. For the 25th consecutive year, Gary Gitnick, Chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases at UCLA School of Medicine and his wife Cherna opened their Encino home to 350 friends for their annual Super Bowl party. (Photo by Vince Bucci)

02/20/2011 -- For the 25th consecutive year, Cherna and Gary Gitnick opened their Encino home to 350 friends for their annual Super Bowl Party on Feb. 6.

The Gitnicks are co-founders of the Fulfillment Fund, the nonprofit mentoring organization that has been providing educational and scholarship opportunities for L.A. youth since it was established 34 years ago. The Fulfillment Fund is a college-access program that assists 1,700 kids a year, all from under-performing L.A. schools.

For the first time, the event departed from the Gitnicks' customary halftime format, which in the past has been a showcase for an assortment of politicians. This year, the halftime rhetoric was confined to a discussion on best ways to repair the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The blue-ribbon panel included L.A.U.S.D. Superintendent John Deasy, United Teachers L.A. President A.J. Duffy, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel, L.A. City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Jan Perry, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Partnership of L.A. Schools CEO Marshall Tuck, L.A.U.S.D. Board President Monica Garcia, L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and L.A.U.S.D. Board member Tamar Galatzan.

Also on hand to meet and greet were L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Gov. Gray Davis and his wife Sharon, and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

"What must be done to make the L.A. public school system the best in the world?" Gitnick asked the panel.

This prompted a litany of solutions ranging from alternative energy, new technology, health care, safe neighborhoods, expansion of local control, extension of the school day, evaluation and elimination of low-performing teachers and principals, expansion of pre-school programs, and increased parental involvement.

And, of course, the bottom line, where to get the money to make it all happen.

"Everyone needs to get involved," Tuck said.

"Teachers and principals must believe that all kids can go to college, give them a hard curriculum, motivate them, and make them accountable. Everyone needs to step up. Go to your local school and talk about your job, and how you got there."

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