Thursday, February 21, 2013

Op-Ed: Laying the Foundation for a Lifetime of Learning

James Baldwin said that "We all profit by, or pay for, whatever [our children] become."  Our responsibility to support and be attentive to our children is the theme of my Op-Ed in last week's Crescenta Valley Weekly.  I've shared that Op-Ed below and give thanks to Robin Goldsworthy of the CV Weekly for allowing me to share my thoughts on this important topic.

Laying the Foundation for a Lifetime of Learning
Throughout history, scholars, theologians, and social justice advocates have spoken of the important role that our children play as the future leaders of our society. Frederick Douglass said, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” And James Baldwin noted, “We all profit by, or pay for, whatever they [our children] become.”
Second-grade students at Mountain Avenue
Elementary School launched a Barbie into Space
These quotes instill in each of us a responsibility to educate our children and ensure they have the knowledge and skills to lead us in the future. But, in the past month, I have had the honor to meet and interact with some of Crescenta Valley’s next generation of great minds who have inspired me to consider the lessons I can learn from young people.
Last month, at Mountain Avenue Elementary School, I met second graders who launched a Barbie into space, complete with a digital camera and GPS tracking device. One week later, at Clark Magnet High School, students demonstrated their robotics skills with robots that shoot hoops and hovercrafts that can carry adult humans. These are accomplishments that I would have never dreamed of as a child, and still lack the knowledge and skill to pursue today.
Each of these young people, and so many others, prove that with education and support, our children may accomplish anything they can dream.  They also demonstrate that each of us also has a responsibility to allow our children to educate us, with the type of wisdom that only a child can possess.
Aldous Huxley, the best-selling author and life-long resident of the Beachwood Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles, said, “A child-like man is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle-aged habit and convention.”
The Clark High School Robotic Team
Perhaps even more profound was Bishop Desmond Tutu’s insight: “[Children] have an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things and to expose sham and humbug for what they are.”
The fact is that young people have great ideas that often go overlooked.  After all, it was students who created and continue to govern organizations like the Fire House Youth Center. Some of these young people are also leaders in our community who serve on the CV Youth Town Council.
This week, young people from throughout the region will travel to the state capitol in Sacramento to participate in the 65th Model Legislature and Court. These intelligent and well-spoken young adults have been studying tirelessly for months to learn the legislative process, parliamentary procedure, and issues that affect our State. I hope you will join me in wishing them the best of luck and in working to support all youth who desire to actively engage and have a voice in the world around them. I also hope the adult leaders, myself included, will truly listen to these young people and learn something in the process as well.
This opinion editorial originally appeared in the Febrursay 14th edition of the Crescenta Valley Weekly. You can read this Op-Ed and more by visiting the CV Weekly HERE
Mike Gatto is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

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