There's a kindergarten in Hollywood — nestled somewhere between La Brea and Mars — who not only struggles financially to provide crayons and a warm terrarium for the cute turtles, but tragically cannot afford a crossing guard.
Only a few miles away, a Hollywood high school's celebrated and fabled music program that has launched the careers of more than a few impressive graduates who have since found their way to Broadway and the Silver Screen, is having their most talented and effective teachers pink-slipped for lack of funding.
The plight of teachers and those that support the infrastructure of education in Hollywood is in great peril, and it's all about money. Those dedicated souls who educate our children often reach into their own pockets to provide the tools, the books and the crayons as they live from paycheck to paycheck and battle the machine to keep their jobs.
Just down the golden mile that is Hollywood Boulevard, an actress demands well over $20 million to rest her ample and quite luxurious derriere in the catbird seat of fame — where she and her cohorts portend the fates of the youthful talent in their charge through a fog of guffaws and "Yo Dawgs."
The tens of thousands of children whose parents count out the change each morning for milk money and hold their hands while they wait patiently at bus stops might notice the limos, Towne cars, and luxury vans that transport the upper echelon of Hollywood to destinations scant miles from these schools. The dust that these limos kick up in the street is the only common bond that they share. As the school busses pull away from the curb with their precious cargo, many of these parents face the same uncertain prospects as their children's schools.
Unemployment, disillusion, despair.
"Lack of Funding" is a term that many of us face as individuals and families stare into the abyss that was once the class division that separated the haves from the have-nots. What is ironic is that it has never been more apparent than it is in the city that is home to one of the most powerful and creative industries in the world.
The irony can't only be apparent to me. When you have an entertainer like Jennifer Lopez negotiate for millions of dollars to be on a program that professes to be part of the nurturing and coaching of undiscovered talented young people, while degreed, underpaid and experienced educators stand and shuffle forward in unemployment lines, something is wrong.
Lopez is not at fault, let me be real. We cut our own deals in life. It's society that is sick.
Given the opportunity, we'd all go for the money. I sure as hell would. It's how we've been brought up in a city that ranks you by wealth over utility. Our priorities are at the hands of a cosmic carnival shell game huckster. They scatter and shift while those who we vote into office try to keep their eyes on the action.
In the end, they guess the pea under the wrong shell, and we are lead down another road of wasted money, empty promises, and crushed youthful dreams. The nickels and dimes counted out for a child's milk money often times does not leave much left over.
McDonalds and Walmart flourish in these times as the lowest common denominators of the classless while tables at the Palm are booked months ahead, and Chanel debuts its fall collection in the glare of phosphor and the whiz of automated Nikons.
The middle class is disappearing in Hollywood, as it has disappeared in much of the world. The outrageous expenditures to coddle the demigods who command minders, make-up, and managers are spent at the expense of our youth. The millions that we shell out to professional athletes who continually shit on the abstract of 'role model' as they consume anabolics, dope and idolation is like pouring money down a rathole emblazoned with the stars and stripes.
How can we, as a creative, proactive and diverse industry allow the obscene excesses of stardom to eclipse the basic needs of our children?
There are those who leverage their fame for the good of mankind. We know who they are. These few eschew extravagance as they side-step excrement in the sewer-streets of African villages and camps, commanding the microscope of the media to focus on that plight. But what about our own community?
At a grassroots level, we were able to shift the mindspeak of motion picture and television industry long term care. The control of elder care was returned to the stewardship of those whose commitment mirrored that of the founding fathers of the Motion Picture Home.
"We Take Care of Our Own" is once again the talk while those who denied it were sent to walk. It shows what a community can do.
Now that the motion picture and television elderly seem to be taken care of, it's time that we turned to the children and work to secure their rights to a future based on a platform of soundly supported education.