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'Trail to Trouble'

September 13, 1987

In addressing the issue of whether or not a $700-million tax surplus should go to schools, your editorial, ("Trail to Trouble," Aug. 28) overlooks the real crises in California education--the failure to properly account for the billions already being spent in our educational system.

We were all shocked when the first arrests of Los Angeles Unified School District employees for embezzlement took place last December.

A short time later, I, along with many others, was outraged to learn that the school district's record keeping was so poor that district officials found it impossible to determine exactly how much had been stolen. (Detecting no adequate response by district officials, I requested an audit of LAUSD procurement practices by the state auditor general which should be completed by the end of the year.)

These thefts represent more than a loss to the taxpayers, this is stealing from the future of our children. That this could occur is striking evidence of the shoddy management practices within the LAUSD and we have no reason to suspect that this is an isolated problem restricted to our state's largest school district.

Yet amazing as it may seem, with this scandal rocking a school district with a $3.2-billion budget, the only response from state Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig has been a demand for more taxpayers' money.

Little wonder our state's top education official was not chosen to serve on the governor's recently created panel to study ways to improve education.

The bipartisan California Commission on Education Quality, which includes former San Francisco Mayor George Christopher and former schools chief Wilson Riles, has been given the task of examining fiscal accountability, school security and the complicated formula by which schools are funded--all issues which Honig has chosen to ignore.

It is in reality Gov. George Deukmejian who is on the right track by investigating and fact-finding in an effort to solve our state's education problems.

Unfortunately the superintendent of public instruction has taken the low road and it leads down hill for California students and taxpayers.

Before spending more on education, we must ask for an accounting for the 55% of our state budget that is already earmarked for schools. The high road demands better use of the $21 billion taxpayers provided.





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