Looking Out for Numero Uno

I wasn’t sure I’d ever applaud anything Katharine DeBrecht, conservative children’s author and rabid anti-liberal, had to say. But to my great joy, she wrote something that leads me to believe that in spite of creationists and regressive teaching methods, in spite of $5 million thrown away on a special election instead of being used for education, public schools are succeeding in one very important respect: they are teaching kids to think. “Our public schools have become nothing more than a training ground for little activists,” opined DeBrecht. “The ranking of US schools in the world reflects the use of the classroom not as an instrument for learning, but as a breeding ground for social justice activists.”

Be still my heart. Can this be true? The California school system’s academic standing may be sub-par, but if students are interested enough to be active, they are thinking and learning. Hopefully they will continue to think all the way into the voting booth on their 18th birthdays.

The particular bit of student activism DeBrecht deplores at the moment swirls around immigration. The issue has precipitated the largest demonstrations in LA history, with students pouring into the streets and even getting school credit for community service (much to the chagrin of some). As the immigration debate heats up in Washington, our city’s 4.6 million residents of Hispanic heritage want their voices to be heard.

It’s a complex issue, especially in a state that relies on Spanish speaking laborers to do many of the lower paid jobs—picking strawberries in Camarillo, house cleaning on the Westside or staffing restaurant kitchens all over the city. We have so many Spanish-speaking people in LA that practically every call we make asks if we want to oprima el numero uno. Of course this city is home to many middle class Latinos as well, but they are not the ones at the heart of the furor.

Astounding as it may sound, there have been allegations that we only need new immigrants to do the low-level jobs because one-third of a generation “has been wiped out” by the practice of abortion. I’m trying to find the logic in that and I just can’t.

Spring is here and the weather is finally warming up after what seems like an unusually protracted winter. California is in her glory in the spring and summer—we have the absolute best selection of produce. When I lived in New York, I often shopped at a fabulous, now-defunct specialty store in my neighborhood called Balducci’s. The fruits and veggies they sold were considered (and priced) top of the line. After living in Southern California for a while, I returned for a visit and was shocked at what I’d formerly perceived to be a prime selection.

Californians are really fortunate, and as Michael Pollan points out (pg. 40), even if it’s not organic, sometimes it’s better to eat what’s been grown nearby. We can’t think about organics in a vacuum; if fossil fuels are involved in shipping them, and if they spend a week in transit, those health and environmental costs are subtracted from the overall benefit.

Here’s exciting news about something fresh and organic that’s sprouting this spring: WLT is redesigning and our new look is going to really wow you. We’ll be printing on 100 percent glossy (and recycled) paper with an airy, colorful new design. Think of it as a Christmas present in June!

As I say a bittersweet farewell to our newsprint format, I’m thrilled to know that all of our wonderful readers are coming with us into the next incarnation of WLT.

From my heart,
Abigail Lewis

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