Monday, April 30, 2012

Retrospective on the riots

Headline from the L.A. Times, Aug. 5, 1965
THE NEWS MEDIA IN LOS ANGELES have been full of retrospectives on the 20th anniversary of the so-called Rodney King riots of April, 1992. That got us thinking about the Mount's great commitment over the years to improving the lives of the poor in our city, especially in the field of education. It is a long and distinguished history -- too long for a blog, so we'll mention just one special program.

The Center for Urban Education was an initiative of the Mount's Education Department in the fall of 1965 at the 3-year-old Doheny Campus. It was the first of its kind in the nation, offering (in the language of the mid-1960s) a "three-pronged program for the preparation of teachers to enter urban problem schools." One track put students in internships at downtown-area elementary schools. The second enabled Mount students to obtain a credential or a master's degree in the urban teaching specialty. The third was a preschool division that trained teachers for work in the newly created Head Start program.

Herald-Examiner headline,Aug. 4, 1965
The program's co-directors were Dr. Roman Young, long-time chair of MSMC's Education Department, and Dr. Ronald J. Koegler of UCLA, a research psychiatrist. Enrollment the first semester was 70 students.

But by the time classes started on September 15, 1965, there was greater urgency than ever. The Mount's timing, it turned out, was prophetic: The announcement of the new CUE was made on Wednesday, August 4, 1965. The Watts Riots began exactly one week later, on Wednesday, August 11.

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