From 1994 to 2010, Martin Wong edited and wrote in all 68 issues of Giant Robot magazine. More recently, the UCLA grad helped start Save Music in Chinatown, channeling the spirit of the old Hong Kong Café to organize all-ages punk matinees to raise money for music education at Castelar Elementary.
I’ve been fortunate to promote underdogs and subcultures throughout my life, and I have accumulated many awesome friends and colleagues along the way. My current efforts aren’t about sharing cool stuff, but about saving something that’s really important. My daughter’s school, Castelar Elementary, has been targeted by Metro Charter School for co-location. This would deprive Chinatown kids of rooms for music, art, drama, and P.E. They will be forced to share the already limited library, computer labs, lunch areas, multi purpose room, and blacktop space.
In the long run, charter schools are known to cherry-pick their host public school’s top students and drain its resources, leading to a slow, painful death for the public school.
There is a good chance there will be a caste system in which the arrival of more affluent kids turn our mostly immigrant population into second-class citizens in their own neighborhood. It is not acceptable to slice up and sacrifice Castelar, which has provided English-learning kids from both Asian and Latino backgrounds alike with outstanding educations for generations. The school also provides a welcoming environment that produces a true sense of community among kids, free of violence, gangs, and the bullying that occurs in many other inner-city schools. In addition, Castelar provides parents with translation, education, and information, serving as the true heart for this historic neighborhood.
This is the neighborhood where my immigrant grandparents found support, and where my in-laws still go almost every day. This is where Wendy Janet Lau and I got married. This is where our daughter is getting an outstanding public education with passionate teachers and amazing kids.
If you haven’t already, please sign this petition, and post this article on your social media. Spread the word. And keep spreading the word.