Santa Monica, a Lifelong Learning Community

Lifelong Learning Community News – January 2005

“Never has the step into a new year felt heavier.” – Swedish Premier quoted in the LA Times, January 1, 2005

Happy New Year! My New Year’s Resolution (or at least one of them) is to resume writing these Lifelong Learning Community News emails. Special thanks to Maryanne Solomon of Art Meets Technology for creating a Santa Monica Lifelong Learning Community website. We hope that this site will evolve over time and serve as a virtual bulletin board and resource center for lifelong learning in Santa Monica. Please explore the website and send us your suggestions!

There are several new faces and leaders on our elected boards:
City Council - Bobby Shriver now joins Ken Genser, Richard Bloom, Bob Holbrook, Kevin McKeown, Herb Katz, and Pam O’Connor on the dais. Pam O’Connor is our new Mayor and Herb Katz is Mayor Pro Tempore.

College Board – Susan Aminoff and Rob Rader join Margaret Quinones, Herb Roney, Dorothy Ehrhart-Morrison, Carole Currey, and Nancy Greenstein as the SMC Board of Trustees. Carole Currey has been elected Chair, with Nancy Greenstein, Vice Chair.

School District – Kathy Wisnicki joins Jose Escarce, Maria Leon-Vazquez, Oscar de la Torre, Shane McCloud, Julia Brownley, and Emily Bloomfield on the Board of Education. Emily Bloomfield will serve as President; Julia Brownley as Vice President.

Congratulations and good luck to all!

Hearing for Public Input for 05-06 City Budget Priorities
Tuesday, January 11, 6:45pm
City Hall
Last year at this time, we were hard at work mobilizing more than 1,000 concerned residents to go to City Hall and beg for additional funding for our public schools. This year, no such mass appeal is necessary. That’s because the City and the School District have agreed to a new contractual arrangement whereby the City will pay the School District a base fee of $6 million annually in exchange for increased community use of School District facilities. The agreement provides for a cost of living increase and also a future “re-basing” tied to increases in City revenues. The contract will soon be made available for public review prior to being approved by the City Council and School Board members. I hope this will begin a new era of partnership, shared responsibility and pride for both the City and the School District on behalf of our public schools.

So, if there’s no march on City Hall for increased funding for schools this year, what other issues should the Council focus on?

At their December 14th Council meeting, in response to the latest outbreak of gunfire in the Pico Neighborhood, City Staff prepared a report suggesting a focused, multi-faceted, coordinated and sustained community effort to prevent gang violence and related crime. The report speaks to institutional partners and prevention as well as intervention strategies, reaching out to the parents of newborns as well as providing additional opportunities for school age children and older youth. To me, it echoes the themes, needs, and plans articulated by the Lifelong Learning Community, and the expansion of Virginia Avenue Park creates an extraordinary opportunity and venue for these efforts. Please urge the City Council to continue to invest in lifelong learning opportunities with a special emphasis on the Pico Neighborhood.

To provide your input into City Budget Priorities for 05/06, attend the Council meeting on January 11 or email your thoughts.

Celebration of Neil Schmidt’s Life
Saturday, January 15, shuttle begins in Fillmore at 2:30pm to
Neil’s home
please call Lynn Edmonds at 805-524-4839 for details

I find this very hard to believe but alas that does not mean it isn’t true; Neil Schmidt passed away on Wednesday, December 15th after having an allergic reaction brought on by a bee sting. Dr. Schmidt was the Superintendent of SMMUSD from 1992-2001. He was a very good man, a tireless superintendent, a person who cared about all children, and a leader who truly believed in the goodness of people. For more information, please go to

Contributions in Dr. Schmidt’s memory may be made to:
The Neil Schmidt Fund
Ventura County Community Foundation
1317 Del Norte Road, Suite 150
Camarillo, CA 93010

Martin Luther King Day Celebration
Monday, January 17, 9am
First United Methodist Church
1008 11th Street

This annual tribute to Dr. King includes inspirational readings, music, and scholarship awards. This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Paul Cummins, co-founder of Crossroads School and Executive Director of the New Visions Foundation. The program is followed by an Involvement Fair. The entire community is welcome. This event is sponsored by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition.

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Madison Performing Arts Center
Wednesday, January 19, 4-5pm
Madison Campus of Santa Monica College
1310 11th Street

Santa Monica and Malibu residents passed SMC’s Measure S in the November election thus “setting the stage” for adding a theatre and Performing Arts Center to the Madison Campus. The public is invited to join Dustin Hoffman, Campaign Chair of the Madison Project of SMC for the Groundbreaking Ceremony for this wonderful new lifelong learning facility that will serve both SMC students and the community at large for many years to come!

This event will also double as a farewell to Dr. Piedad Robertson, Superintendent and President of Santa Monica College since 1995. Dr. Robertson will retire from SMC as of January 31st and has accepted a job as President of the Education Commission of the States, a national education policy organization. Please go to to read of Dr. Robertson’s many lasting accomplishments at SMC. You can find her letter of resignation at
Tom Donner will serve as Acting President.

Community Workshop to Update the City’s Land Use Element of The General Plan
Saturday, January 22, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
John Adams Middle School cafeteria
2425 16th Street (the cafeteria is closer to 17th Street)

Santa Monica is entering a significant phase in the evolution of the community by updating the Land Use Element of the General Plan. This process will determine land use patterns in Santa Monica for the next 20 years. This workshop is the first in a series that the City has set up to elicit public participation. Be part of creating a shared vision for Santa Monica’s future! For more information, please go to

In 1997, the process of updating the Open Space Plan sparked the idea of Santa Monica as a Lifelong Learning Community. (See lllc_background.html) Perhaps elements to support lifelong learning can and will be included in this update of the General Use Plan. I continue to hold out hope that someday we will also develop a long-range planning blueprint for lifelong learning (although remarkable and steady progress is being made even without an overall plan – think Emeritus College, new Main Library, SMC Library, Madison Theatre, Saint John’s North Pavilion, and expanded Virginia Avenue Park as examples of major capital improvements in our Lifelong Learning Community.) For additional thoughts about a Lifelong Learning Master Action Plan (MAP), please visit master_plan.html

Another noteworthy and admirable local model for long-range planning that can inform and guide incremental implementation is the recently updated Sustainable Cities Plan, available online at

Before I sign off, I’d like to bring your attention to this one additional special event (which I am listing OUT of chronological order!):

World-renowned Rick Lavoie offers hands-on solutions!!
Does your child struggle in the classroom?
Wednesday, January 5th 7 to 9 P.M.,
Barnum Hall, Santa Monica High School,
601 Pico Blvd.,

Ann Payson from The Learning Differences and Parent/Teacher Education Group, a committee of the Franklin PTA, writes:
“World renowned learning expert Rick Lavoie is coming to speak in Santa Monica for FREE!!!! Believe me you don't want to miss his talk. He is an amazing speaker - as anyone who's seen his video tapes can attest. You will come away from this talk enlightened and encouraged!”

Rick Lavoie speaks with humor and wisdom about the difficulties we all face as parents of kids who struggle in the classroom!

Internationally recognized as a leader in identifying and dealing with learning challenges, Rick’s articles have been published in many different countries. Rick has met with school districts all over the USA to offer his professional advice on meeting the needs of all kinds of students, whether gifted or in special education.
This event is sponsored by the Malibu Special Education Foundation. 457-4001
Donations will be used to create a facilitated parent support group in Santa Monica.

That’s all for now.
Thanks, Cheers, and Onward!

For more information about the Lifelong Learning Community, contact

Louise Jaffe