As the 2016-17 legislative sessions begins, the University of California has already been very active in Sacramento. Your assistance has proven critical as we have worked to ensure that UC gets the resources it needs from the State. I wanted to provide you with a current update, and I hope to be able to call on your assistance again later this year as this session moves forward.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald today (Jan. 28) announced a stronger academic affiliation to benefit our nation’s veterans as UCLA commits to annually providing $1.15 million in support of new programs and services, approximately $200,000 of in-kind contributions and $300,000 a year in fair-market rent for continued use of Jackie Robinson Stadium. New and expanded services will include mental health, family support, legal advocacy and recreation services.
Los Angeles service providers and the city and county housing authorities have been coming together to reach the White House and Veterans Administration’s goal to end veterans homelessness by 2015, successfully housing over 300 veterans every month.
Unfortunately, for this region, there is still a long way to go.
“What Los Angeles has to do in a month to work toward ending veterans homelessness, other cities need to do in a year, or had to do to complete their entire program,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was on the UCLA campus Thursday encouraging landlords to rent to veterans through the HUD-VASH voucher program, which pays fair market rates for rental units. He opened by thanking UCLA for hosting the meeting and acknowledged the decades long partnership between UCLA and the VA.
Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson was once that kid in the audience — antsy and uninterested.
Sure, his upbringing included plenty of civic engagement. His father coached youth sports and stayed active in the community. Wesson remembers passing out flyers as a kid in Cleveland, Ohio in support of Charles Stokes, the first African American mayor of a major city.
“My family, historically, we were engaged,” Wesson said. “It was at a time when we had a lot of civic courses and social studies. It was a way to connect with local governments and what have you.”
And yet, it wasn’t until he went to college, and still then, Wesson often found himself in the crowd, looking for an exit strategy. Then one day, his fraternity was hosting special speaker: Northern California’s first black Congress member, Ron Dellums.
The year 2015 ended on a positive note for UCLA advocates at the federal level with the passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Bill — a victory in a number of areas that directly impact students.
Many K-12 educators in California have long called for more local control and the ability to better cater to their specific students and issues, hoping to improve educational equity and equality now and into the future.
According to California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the No Child Left Behind Act had unrealistic goals, too much testing, too much federal government and not enough support. It’s replacement — ESSA, or the Every Student Succeeds Act — was signed into law by President Barack Obama at the end of last year as a bipartisan measure that aims to cement a new national education law and give a longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students.
“I am heartened by the fact that ESSA takes a different approach,” Torlakson said, during his opening comments at a national meeting hosted Jan. 19 at UCLA’s Carnesale Commons.