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Magnet School's Origins Rooted in Community

January 17, 2002

As the founding chair of the Community Magnet School, I can sympathize with Carol Lynn Mithers ("LAUSD's Building Fantasy," Opinion, Jan. 13). The Community School, as it was originally called, opened its doors as an alternative school on the split sites of Canfield Avenue and Crescent Heights elementary schools in 1974. It took two years of hard bargaining and a threat of a lawsuit to get the LAUSD to accept the concept of a neighborhood integration plan that combined volunteers from the student bodies of Canfield (96% Anglo) and Crescent Heights (98% black), located less than one mile apart on Airdrome Street. The idea was to operate the Community School as an autonomous mini-school at each site. This concept lasted only three years when the district, under pressure from Canfield parents, gave us an ultimatum: Move the program to the site of then-Pasteur Junior High or lose it. After much debate the school was relocated.

The Community School was well documented in the article, but it has never been accorded the recognition it so rightly deserves for one major reason: LAUSD is very uncomfortable with a school that is governed by its parents, students and faculty. As successful as the Community Magnet School has become, its model has seen little or no replication, a testament to the myopia that infects the school district. I say to Mithers: Don't give up. Keep making as loud a noise as needed, because the bright light of public attention is one thing the LAUSD detests.

Clive Hoffman

Beverly Hills

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Every voter should clip and save Mithers' article. Then, every time the drumbeat starts for more government power and more taxes and electoral candidates who propose more, voters should reread the article and vote resoundingly "no."

Gerald Sozio

Los Angeles

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