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Council Had Right Response to Bad Plan : Valley Members Understand the Voucher Initiative Would Destroy the Public Schools

September 19, 1993

Just because you're dead wrong on one issue doesn't mean that you have to be out to lunch on another. A recent example has been provided by three Los Angeles City Council members who represent the Valley.

Members Joel Wachs, Laura Chick and Hal Bernson unsuccessfully urged their City Council colleagues to support state Sen. David Roberti's (D-Van Nuys) ill-conceived effort to break up the Los Angeles Unified School District.

We have long held that a breakup would be premature and should not be considered seriously until real efforts at internal educational and structural reform, such as that offered by the LAUSD's LEARN program, have been given a proper chance to succeed. LEARN stands for the Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now.

But with sentiment running high in the Valley against the LAUSD, one might have expected those council members to have supported almost any proposal that would provide alternatives to their constituents. Surely they would also support the school voucher initiative on the statewide November ballot that would give the parents of California students a $2,600 voucher to spend at public or private schools, including those that are religiously based.

Wrong.

All three Valley members and a fourth--Richard Alarcon--took part in the 14-0 council vote this month to oppose the voucher initiative. That ought to serve as food for thought for those Valley residents who are so enthusiastic about vouchers.

The random privatization implicit in the proposed voucher system would destroy the state's public schools, a fact that the Valley's council members understand. Public school funding would not only be reduced by that same $2,600 per pupil amount, it would also be reduced by at least the equivalent that the public schools usually receive in state aid for each pupil who would have attended. Members Chick, Bernson, Alarcon and Wachs were right to come out against the voucher initiative, and Valley voters should follow their lead in November.

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