Today's Agenda

For a few days last month, child care came to the fore of the American agenda as debate raged about whether Kimba Wood or Zoe Baird should have been denied the attorney general slot because of their nannies' immigration status. Some supporters of one or both women said their dilemma illustrated a national problem, and urged new laws to make it easier for working women to hire baby-sitters legally.

It was barely noted that a lot of parents would love to have Wood's or Baird's problem--any kind of nanny, documented or undocumented. In Platform, women of far more modest means tell us how, with great effort, they cobble together the day care that allows them to hold down a job or go to school.

They use a fragment of state help, a sliver of federal program, a local public-school after-class program, and as much of their own money as they can spare.

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H is old buddy Fred is dead, writes John Cook in the Youth column, and Craig is in Juvenile Hall in San Diego. Chris is in state prison on an armed robbery conviction, and Shane is doing drugs. For all of these reasons and more just like them, says Cook, a student at Mira Costa College in Oceanside, he's grateful to have followed the orders of his mother (who died before he could thank her) and stayed out of gang life, despite the scorn of his erstwhile friends.

Even kids who want desperately to learn can have a tough time finding help, says former teacher Gwen Bolden in Testimony. Bolden, who now runs her own foundation dedicated to learning programs, has watched the slashing of city funds for her own after-school tutorials and the disappearance of effective city-run programs like Teen Post. "When something works, it seems like the powers that be cut it out, like it's not meant to work," she says.

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You are what you look upon, says Matthew Jaffe, whose outlook on Los Angeles took a major turn for the sunny side when his company moved its offices from downtown L.A. to nearer the beach. In a satirical Community Essay, he describes how geography affects optimism, how it's a different world five miles in the other direction.

And what might a new name do to change one's outlook? The "name game" has been played all over the San Fernando Valley in the past few years--parts of Reseda became parts of Encino and Tarzana, part of Van Nuys transformed itself into part of Sherman Oaks, and bits of North Hollywood went several places. In the Neighborhood profiles North Hills, formerly Sepulveda, where one-half of the community renamed itself and the other half, furious about the attempted "divorce," did the same thing. Now, in the new North Hills, the energy generated by the name-change fight has translated into positive community activism.

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What does really bad rock and roll have to do with the issue of gays in the military? Well, opinions about music, like opinions about sexuality, are "heart issues," not "head issues," says the Rev. Robert L. Morley of Corona del Mar in an unusual Sermon.

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