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VALLEY PERSPECTIVE

Diverging Views on Breaking Up LAUSD

March 19, 2000

At public hearings on a proposal to form two new San Fernando Valley school districts, speakers have agreed on little except their desire for change.

The breakup proposal put forth by the group Finally Restoring Excellence in Education, or FREE, calls for a northern and a southern Valley district with Roscoe Boulevard as the primary boundary line between them.

The Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization, after a series of hearings, will make a recommendation in June to the State Board of Education, which in turn will decide whether to put the breakup proposal to a public vote. The next public hearing will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Walter Reed Middle School, 4525 Irvine Ave., North Hollywood.

VALLEY PERSPECTIVE asked several community members who spoke at a Feb. 24 hearing in Van Nuys about the plan and its potential effects on education.

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ANDY ANDERSON, 76, Northridge

Retired LAUSD secondary school principal

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I served the people of this city, in the Los Angeles Unified School District, for 42 years--10 as a teacher, 10 as an assistant principal and 22 as a principal. I guess you could say I know this district and its history pretty well.

Over the years I have been sent, by the school district and by my principals association, to look at outstanding school districts over the western United States and in California. We saw some marvelous things, but our reports were ignored. This district was interested in maintaining the status quo, not in improving.

Dr. Yvonne Chan, now at Vaughn [Next Century Learning Center], is doing some of the things we saw--but she had to hit the district over the head to get to do them. She was fought every step of the way.

When I was completing my doctoral work at USC more than 25 years ago, the Torrance superintendent came to speak with us. Torrance had just successfully completed a struggle to split off--after a terrific fight like the one we're having now. He said, "Our improvement began when we got out of Los Angeles. Now the people here have real input into what happens in their schools."

Those same studies that we did at USC showed that the best size for a school district, the size at which a district has real cooperative parent / teacher input, is 40,000 to 60,000 students. My God, this district has over 700,000 students. No wonder parents and community are ignored.

You can begin the cure for this very sick school district by seeing that it is broken up into districts small enough so that the parents and teachers, those who know and care, can have their voices heard and acted upon. Support FREE.

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