Recently on Town Hall Journal

"Stand and Deliver: Jaime Escalante at Town Hall LA"

When Hollywood filmed the amazing story of Jaime Escalante and his students at Los Angeles’ Garfield High School, charismatic actor Edward James Olmos was chosen to portray him. But when Escalante spoke at Town Hall Los Angeles in 1990, listeners found the man himself to be equally charismatic. His talk, delivered with feeling, insight and humor, conveyed the passion for learning and belief in his students that inspired hundreds of them to study after school and weekends to pass the daunting advanced placement calculus test – which nearly all of them did. In this special Town Hall Journal, we present Escalante’s talk nearly in its entirety. These days, as budgets shrink, class sizes grow and teachers struggle against all odds to prepare their students for the future, the teaching philosophies of the man who was called ‘America’s greatest teacher’ continue to resonate – and inspire.

"Calling the Plays at the NCAA"

When Theodore Roosevelt’s son broke his nose playing football in 1906, the president saw a need to make college athletics safer. The result was the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which has been responsible for regulating varsity sports ever since. But lately, some have called foul on the organization for allegedly exploiting student players. While their athletic talent can mean big bucks for their colleges and universities, the students see none of those riches, and in fact are required to sign away their image and likeness – perhaps in perpetuity. In his recent talk at Town Hall Los Angeles, NCAA president Mark Emmert contends that a college education, travel and other perks are ample compensation for amateur athletes. But the business of college sports is, arguably, anything but amateur. Now a pending class-action lawsuit by athletes against the NCAA could change the game as we know it forever. Town Hall Speaker: Mark Emmert, President, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Interview: Jeff Fellenzer, USC Professor in Sports, Business & Media Town Hall Vault Speaker: Jerry Buss, Owner, Los Angeles Lakers (1980)
To prepare this country’s 21st century workforce, our schools need to go full ‘STEAM’ ahead. That means science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Studies show that students need these vital subjects to develop real-world creativity and innovation – the essential skillset of tomorrow. But recent trends in federal legislation have prioritized core subjects over the kind of wholistic learning that educators advocate. And in a down-turned economy, even the most passionate teachers feel stifled by lack of resources. Can big business help? In the second of two programs based around a recent Town Hall Los Angeles conference, educators and business leaders convene to talk about creative solutions – and how both teachers and businesses can profit from them. “What Do Teachers Want from Business?” Town Hall Speakers: Dean Gilbert, Science Consultant, LA County Office of Education Tara Chklovski, Founder & CEO, Iridescent Learning Dr. Kadhir Rajagopal, California Teacher of the Year, Grant Union High School Dr. Kichoon Yang, Executive Director, National Council of Mathematics Teachers “What Does Business Want from Teachers?” Town Hall Speakers: David Baia, Global Resources Industry Capability Development Lead, Accenture Nan Bouchard, VP Program Management – Defense, Space & Security, The Boeing Company Teresa Hoffman, SVP – Manager of Recruitment, City National Bank Joseph Rivera, Director of Engineering, The Gas Company Town Hall Vault Speaker: Chris Whittle, Founder, Edison Schools (1995)
One’s a former Secretary of State, a Stanford Scholar, an accomplished pianist – and a Republican. The other’s a noted civil rights attorney, named one of California’s top ten most influential lawyers – and a Democrat. But they’re cousins, sharing a family history that dates back to slavery days, as well as a passion for social justice that transcends party lines. This week on Town Hall Journal, Condoleezza Rice discusses her new book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, with her cousin, Constance Rice. In the book, Dr. Rice shares her childhood memories of growing up in the Jim Crow south, as well as the family experiences and values that shaped her journey to the White House. Don’t miss this lively, insightful and intimate conversation between two very extraordinary women. Speakers: The Honorable Condoleezza Rice, former United States Secretary of State, author of ‘Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family” Constance Rice, Co-director of The Advancement Project Town Hall Vault Speaker: Senator Bill Bradley (D-New Jersey)(1992)

"Early Education = K-12 Success"

Any kindergarten teacher can tell you that children who have had the benefit of preschool enter their classrooms ready – and eager – to learn, to interact, and to achieve. And studies show that students with the early education advantage are less likely to drop out, to need special education, to end up on welfare or even in prison. Those critical ‘First Five’ years lay the groundwork for a student’s entire future – and by extension, the future of our society. But in this country, there’s a wide gap between those who can afford preschool and those who can’t. Half of California’s low-income children arrive in kindergarten to find they’re already behind their peers – and unlikely to catch up. Why is it so difficult for us to give our children the head start they need?

"Walking the Beat with Chief Charlie Beck"

Los Angeles has seen a string of colorful characters heading up its police department, with as many different philosophies on how to run the squad. Police brutality and an ‘us vs. them’ mindset of the Bill Parker era paved the way to the Watts Riots. Daryl Gates’ ‘circle the wagons’ attitude following the Rodney King beatings brought down the wrath of the Christopher Commission; that approach then gave way to the kindler, gentler hand of William Bratton and the advent of community policing. Our newest top cop, Charlie Beck, a 35-year veteran of the force, promises to take that tradition further and instill the culture of cooperation all the way down through the ranks. What challenges does he face as he shepherds the LAPD into the next century? Speaker: Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck Town Hall Vault Speakers: Police Chief Daryl Gates (1981) Police Chief Willie Williams (1992) Police Chief Bernard Parks (2002) Interview: Joe Domanick, author of To Protect and to Serve: The LAPD’s Century of War in the City of Dreams

"The Financial Crisis: Will We Ever Learn?"

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, created in 2009, is a 10-member, bipartisan panel charged with the task of examining “the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” The commission conducted over 700 interviews and sifted through millions of documents in their search for the truth. What they found reads like a John Grisham novel – back room Wall Street dealings, bank executives treating mortgages like poker chips, financial products sliced and diced, bought and sold without regard to risk and all the while, government regulators turning a blind eye to the obvious red flags. Their report was delivered to congress and the American people in January. In a Town Hall Los Angeles preview last fall, the commission’s Chair, Phil Angelides, offered a peek into the economic shenanigans that led to what he calls “one of the greatest financial cataclysms of our times.” And warned that, if we don't learn from our economic history, we're doomed to bail out again. Town Hall Speaker: The Honorable Phil Angelides, Chairman, Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Town Hall Vault Speaker: James D. Robinson III, CEO, American Express (1991) Interview: Jason Yancey, Director, Operation Hope

"Recipes for Success: Tales from Great Teachers"

Today’s economy – and our nation’s future – depends on the next generation of minds. Creativity and critical thinking skills will be essential tools for that generation, but are our schools equipped to prepare them? And how best to measure success – with standardized tests, or with the sight of enlivened classrooms, filled with engaged, productive students? Town Hall Los Angeles recently brought together some of the brightest minds in education and business for a two-day summit on the future of education. Tonight’s program presents a compelling conversation between Dr. Bill Smoot, author of Conversations with Great Teachers, and MacArthur Fellow Amir Abo-Shaeer, whose radical approach to teaching physics has high school students designing and building robots. And we’ll hear from the late Jaime Escalante, whose belief in his students was key to his recipe for success. Town Hall Speakers: Dr. Bill Smoot, Author, ‘Conversations with Great Teachers’ Amir Abo-Shaeer, Director and Teacher, Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy and, MacArthur Foundation Fellow Town Hall Vault Speaker: Jaime Escalante, Educator (1990)

Hide and Seek: Art, Challenge, and Controversy

When Wayne Clough, secretary of The Smithsonian Institution, came to Town Hall Los Angeles recently, he was greeted by crowds of protesters. The reason for the uproar? The Smithsonian had recently made the decision to remove a controversial work from its exhibit “Hide and Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” in response to pressure from religious groups. Artists and free speech advocates across the nation decried the move, branding it as censorship. Before launching into his planned talk on The Smithsonian’s newest outreach developments, Clough addressed the controversy and its outcome. But art, by its nature, has always inspired vigorous debate. The argument over so-called obscene imagery goes back to the 16th century – as our Town Hall Vault segment recalls. Where to draw the line in publicly funded art?

"Aerospace and California: The Dream and the Reality”

Founded in Hawthorne, California in 1939, Northrop Grumman has long been a part of the California dream. Besides building B-2 bombers and other defense-related aircraft, the company is a major innovator in space exploration, satellite technology and, in the 21st century, the long-cherished dream of personal space travel. Gary Ervin, president of Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems, recently came to Town Hall Los Angeles to talk about California’s $7.4 billion aerospace industry – a major pipeline for jobs, revenue and exciting ideas. But with congress taking aim at the defense budget, who’ll foot the bill for all that innovation? And with the cost of education going sky-high, where will the scientists and engineers of tomorrow come from? Town Hall Speaker: Gary Ervin, Corporate Vice President and President of Aerospace Systems, Northrop Grumman Town Hall Vault Speaker: Thomas Paine, NASA Administrator 1969-1970 (1979)