NEXT MEETING: April 10, 2015
Apropos of Charlie Hebdo: The French Satirical Spirit
François Miglio will approach the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo and the “Super Kosher” attacks in France from a cultural angle. He will explore two questions:
• What is the meaning of the French critical tradition in regard to religion and political power which is represented via satire, caricature, and the pamphlet?
• How does the drama surrounding the murder of the cartoonists relate to the French psyche and to the current political context?
François Miglio is an artist from the Languedoc (southern France). He now lives in the Bay Area and has exhibited his paintings in the States for over 16 years. Besides his artistic work, he spends most of his time experiencing and observing social and cultural events. He occasionally expresses his understanding of what he has witnessed through satirical drawings that include decorative wine labels. As a result, his friends now have a collection of Politically Incorrect Wine Labels!
- Alan Baer announced the club’s 95th Birthday Celebration at his house April 4th starting at 2 PM. Also District 5160 will be holding the annual District Assembly Saturday April 25th at Solano Community College in Vallejo, starting at 8:30 AM (free coffee & donuts, Free lunch if you register at the District’s website.
- Henry Moe invited all Rotarians to participate in the 24th Salesian HS Golf Tournament on May 4th right here at the Richmond Country Club. Keep an eye out for table flyers at future meetings or visit the event page on Salesian’s website.
- Jim Young reported that the “Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle” play project has just been “audited/reviewed” by District 5160 in the form of PDG Mark Von Hoetzendorff and Brad Ward. Apart from the angst created telling an old banker he’s being audited, the project came through with flying colors, as characterized by Mark VonH’s concluding comment, “This is great. It’s exactly what Rotary wants. You should apply again.” For you new red badgers, “…apply again…”, means apply for a $10,000 District Grant to do something that really reaches the members and the community.
MEETING OF April 3, 2015
76 trombones lead the big parade, but today at Rotary 25 violins lead the meeting, after President Stoney Stonework welcomed guests and Rotarians and called the meeting to order. Josh Genser was asked to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Stoney led us in the invocation, a silent prayer for Freedom, Peace & Justice on Earth. Today’s Chauvinism is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Mac Robinson and Dennis Bullis both from San Pablo joined us today.
Rotarians with Guests
Felix Hunziker again introduced Chevron engineer Oscar Garcia.
Bill Koziol was enjoying the sunshine, but had nothing to report.
Recognitions and Happy and Sad Dollars
- Bill ‘Mr. Sunshine’ Koziol confessed that tomorrow (April 4th) is his 40th birthday. The club responded with wild adulation and words of encouragement like, “Wild Colors!” & “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!”. Happy Birthday Bill!
- Jon Lawlis said he missed the club but had Happy $$ because he enjoyed his 3 weeks in Puerto Vallarta followed by golfing in 80 degree weather while on a ski trip to Tahoe.
- John Wilson had Happy $$ because his son came over and cut all the spring weeds on his half acre lot.
- Erle Brown had Happy $$ for some basketball ‘stuff’ that has been going on this past week but couldn’t remember exactly what.
- Josh Genser also had Happy $$ for some basketball ‘Stuff’ but it was the opposite of what Erle had Happy $$ for. Also Josh G is going to show Josh S. that he too can be Happy about going to Detroit because he (Josh G) is going there to promote housing blight reduction. Rumor has it that there is some housing blight in Detroit. Tune in next week to see how Happy Josh G is about the new septic tank being installed at the Battle Creek hideout.
- New Red Badge Rookie & CPA James Richardson had Happy $$ because its just 10 days until the IRS tax filing deadline.
- Mac Robinson from San Pablo Rotary had truly Sad $$, reporting that Doug Millar passed away the night before last. More information to follow when it is available.
- Sid Chauvin had Sad $$ because only 8 Rotarians when to Dave Calfee’s Celebration of Life in Meadow Vista I the foothills. Sid thought more Rotarians should have been there.
- Pam Jones had Happy $$ for the birth of her granddaughter in London UK, Penelope Lane Floyd. Yes that’s right, ‘Penny Lane Floyd’. Pam says that is 7lbs, 3oz of granddaughter and coincidence. Congratulations Pam.
- Dennis Bullis from San Pablo Rotary was Happy to tell Richmond Rotary about San Pablo’s big event May 11th at Maples Hall, the Brasilia Night Carnival. Tickets available from Dennis or San Pablo Rotary.
Program Chair Stacey Street introduced Musician & intimate Confidante (her husband) Don Benham and a cast of dozens of aspiring violinists, from Benito Juarez Elementary School, a Richmond Charter School operated by Amethod Public Schools. Professor Benham led the string ensemble in recognizable renditions Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (Mozart, no kidding); Mary Had a Little Lamb (composer unknown); Boil That Cabbage Down (American Folklore Society, Alan Lomax).
Prof. Benham attributed the string ensembles emerging musical talent to the Benito Juarez School mascot, Mighty Mouse and school motto, “We Honor Hard Work!” The Professor, a professional trombone musician when he is not leading the string ensemble, then introduced Jorge Lopez, Chief Executive for Amethod Public Schools. Don and Jorge originally met when Jorge called Don looking for a trombone teacher…fate.
Jorge is a Richmond native who went to Bay View and Donner Elementary, dropped out of Gompers and started at Richmond High, but transferred to Berkeley High because in those days, “…you didn’t walk across town to go to school.” Jorge’s grandfather came to Richmond in 1916 fleeing the Mexican Revolution and settled in Richmond, working at the Atlas Foundry. After three generations of steel workers, Jorge was working on his Masters Degree at Sac State when a friend told him, “You’re afraid to do a really hard job”.
The hard job was the principal of the Oakland Charter Academy, a failing charter school in the Fruitvale, Oakland. Jorge’s friend knew how to push his buttons: Jorge took the job. After running off the taco truck parked on the playground, and firing all the incompetent teachers (you can do that at a charter school), Jorge launched an academic turn-around. In year one using the novel idea of having the students actually read books (no pun intended), he raised the API (Academic Performance Index) 116 points. In year two, keeping the same tack, the schools API increased an additional 94 points. In year three the API increased an additional 72 points. That year Oakland Charter Academy became Oakland’s first Blue Ribbon School.
Cutting to the chase, Jorge said that Richmond and public education in general need Charter Schools as a matter of choice and to provide school management with real decision-making flexibility. Jorge said that public education is still in a crisis nationally. Citing the statistics for Richmond third graders:
- 78% of WCCUSD third graders cannot perform at that grade’s skill level set when they enter 4th grade.
- This includes 77% of Richmond’s Black students, and;
- 75% of Richmond’s Latino students.
- It does not include the 3rd graders from Benito Juarez Elementary.
Jorge said that Benito Juarez is the highest performing charter school in WCCUSD, but that charter schools are not by themselves a ‘silver bullet’. “Schools need to be focused on kids and they need community and family support.”Most of all, they must have high expectation like at Benito Juarez Elementary where, “We honor hard work!”
Thank you Prof. Don and Principal Jorge for a delightful and hopeful description of education in our current community.
Rotating Editor, Jim Young