While reaching out to Arleta residents in early February, Emanuel was fortunate enough to cross paths with Mr. Ron Moss – a published writer and local community activist. For sure, the city is short of everything except writers. Not too many of them, if any, have published a book as a functioning illiterate.
“Not too many authors hate reading and writing,” says Moss. Growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, he struggled mightily in keeping up with fellow classmates, progressing through grade school as an undiagnosed severe dyslexic.
“I passed my classes by protecting those who were unable to protecting themselves; they would tutor me in return,” Moss said. A high school football player, Moss realized at an early age how his status as a popular student could work to curtail bullying.
He as able to graduate alongside his classmates. From there, he became one of the too many functioning illiterates in the United States.
In a circumstance that limits the ambitions of most, Ron dared to dream. He moved to California in the early 80s, where he met his wife and gained employment, working as ‘B.A.’ of ‘The A-Team’ for the Universal Studios Live Action team. During this time, when Moss realized he needed to raise more income for his wife and newborn daughter, he self-published his first book – a collection of love poems written by men throughout the United States to their respective admirations. This book would eventually reach the staff of The Oprah Show, who desired bios from Moss on a few of the loving scribers from his collection.
Unfortunately, Ron was not able to do so. The show pulled its interest, and Ron lost an incredible opportunity. At a time when Ron’s wife had also recently miscarried and was again pregnant, Moss was devastated; but not defeated. This was the first time his illiteracy limited his success. Moss was determined to make it the last.
Moss taught himself how to read and write with a newspaper, sitting at his kitchen table into the late hours of many, many long nights. Working a second job in security with Farmers’ Insurances, where he published his first book, Moss began writing his first novel – ‘The Wizard Next Door’.
He sells the book on his website, http://www.thewizardnextdoor.com, for only one dollar, and offers free checkouts on Amazon.com. He believes the message behind the work is more important than profits.
This is where Emanuel Pleitez and Ron Moss’ encounter appears to be anything but coincidental. During their conversation, Ron expressed to Emanuel his frustrations with the city’s public school system, stating his attempts to visit local schools and provide mentorship for youth through his experiences and literature have been denied, because he doesn’t own a degree in education. In a time when the city’s resources are stretched thinly, the concept of rejecting voluntary efforts of concerned citizens, especially as it relates to youth outreach, is perplexing.
“We have so many great minds and resources here in Los Angeles; it is time for us all, as one community, to work together in pursuit of optimizing the education our children receive. We have to take advantage of our resources, “ Pleitez believes. “Mr. Ronald Moss is a keen example of such reserves; it’s high time we take advantage”.
With high school graduation rates sitting at fifty percent, and both African-American and Latino males experiencing sub-fifty percent graduation rates, the need for positive mentorship is evident. Other school districts, such as Union City in New Jersey, have enjoyed much improvement after adopting the concept of community in educating their children, dramatically raising graduation rates in an area once dangerously close to having its school district overtaken by the state.
While some point to a strong education budget, the power of producing and sustaining an atmosphere of family and togetherness as it relates to student and community engagement should not be understated.
Emanuel believes Los Angeles is capable of providing the same improvement for its children, and wishes to pour much needed funding into upgrading technology, expanding after-school programs to level the playing field for those who come from lower income households, and ensuring that skill building opportunities are available for children and adults alike. “We must ensure all Angelenos, current and future, are allowed to compete in an evolving employment arena,” says Pleitez.
Citizens like Mr. Ron Moss, willing to answer the call to community, comprise the qualities needed to provide a better quality of life for our youth and establish the togetherness the Emanuel stands for and envisions. For more information on Emanuel Pleitez’ platform visit http://www.pleitezforla.com/issues and to learn about his vision for education in Los Angeles visit http://www.pleitezforla.com/education.
Blog written by Sean Kornegay, Field Organizer and Fellow for the Emanuel Pleitez for Los Angeles Mayor 2013 campaign.
Emanuel Alberto Pleitez is a progressive Los Angeles native, he’s committed to uniting, serving, and inspiring his community. Son of Mexican and Salvadoran immigrants, and experienced in the private and public sector, he hopes to re-energize Los Angeles with a grassroots campaign the likes of which the city has never seen before.
Paid for by Emanuel Pleitez for Los Angeles Mayor 2013, 1972 E Cesar E Chavez Ave., Los Angeles CA 90033. Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.