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Dividing the L.A. School District

November 20, 1987

I read the article regarding state Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig's remarks about the feasibility of dividing the Los Angeles School District into smaller districts (Metro, Oct. 30). The deed is half done. The district is already divided and this happened the moment that board members were elected from districts rather than at-large. The trade-off was minority representation, but the price may have been too high to pay.

There are over 500,000 students in Los Angeles, but each board member views these students' needs from the perspective of his or her own particular district. Unfortunately what becomes important is not what is good and proper for most of the students, but what is politically expedient. Certainly, political considerations are a reality in any elected office, but this board has crossed the line from practical politics to survival at any cost.

L.A. Superintendent Leonard Britton talks about the advantages of a large district. Consider this--if L.A. were divided into five smaller districts, the student enrollment would top 100,000 per district and this is plenty large in any language. Add to this the fiefdom mentality of board members and their propensity to not only make policy, but to involve themselves in the administration of programs and the selection of administrators at all levels.

Some serious mistakes have been made by board members in administrative appointments because loyalty and campaign contributions have become the yardstick by which to measure qualifications rather than experience and ability. At any rate, the notion of dividing the district deserves a closer look because presently the district is operating as seven smaller districts within a giant district but with all the disadvantages of both.

HOPE MARTINEZ

Los Angeles

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