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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

An LAUSD Arts Campus

October 04, 2003

As I read "Plan for Arts Campus Questioned" (Sept. 28), I could not help but think about the L.A. Unified School District high school that I have taught in for 17 years. The Downtown Magnets High School appears to be a "secret" school, a mere five blocks west of Grand on Temple. Although we have been there for over 20 years, we are the stepchild of the building boom in the LAUSD. This is particularly strange, since our major focus is our business magnet, which emphasizes finance, accounting and entrepreneurship. You would suppose that the movers and shakers of L.A. would want to support our programs, but that has not been the case. Except for the Urban Education Partnership (formerly the Los Angeles Educational Partnership) and a few corporations with which we have internships, support from people such as Eli Broad has been nil.

Our school, which has facilities for 500 to 600, now has more than 1,000 students. We have no physical education areas and are being further strained by an expansion of KLCS-TV, with which we share our building. Am I the only person who questions the expansion of a public television station at the expense of a school? Our school had an unwitting role in the Belmont Learning Center fiasco, when we were slated to move to the old Belmont campus. Now it seems we are being once again overlooked to satisfy the egos of the L.A. elite. May I suggest that somebody look at a school that works and help us expand programs that serve the needs of the city?

Cheryl Sloane

Los Angeles

*

To get an understanding of how educational opportunities are missed and how resources are wasted or duplicated, look no further than Broad and the LAUSD. Los Angeles County has been running one of the premier arts high schools in the nation, where I teach. The L.A. County High School for the Arts, on the campus of Cal State L.A., has garnered an astounding number of national, state and local awards since its inception in 1986. The school is open to artistically gifted students from across the county. There are probably more students from the LAUSD than from any other district. Why reinvent the wheel at such a high cost ($18 million)? Why is the LAUSD trying to compete with a school it has been working with for all of these years? Why doesn't Broad come to our school and see what his support could accomplish, not just for the students of L.A. but for the entire county? He won't have to wait years until the bureaucracy builds him his school. It already exists. All the students have been hearing lately is about how budget problems will affect the program. We are all waiting for someone to tell these outstanding young artists, their parents and the dedicated staff that budget problems will not defeat them. These young people can go as far as talent and drive will take them.

Jerry Freedman

Los Angeles

*

If America had a DNA or "psychological profile," surely it would be that its citizens have big hearts, minds and spirits, with equal opportunity to become the best they can possibly be. So, along comes Broad, a true visionary and example of who and what one can become, and everyone criticizes him and his plan for an arts campus. Since they took art and music out of the schools, students' potential went right with it. The exemplary arts campus suggested is desperately needed.

It's time that City Council and school board members, who work for the citizens, put their agendas aside and stop questioning motives and find a way to make it work -- like possibly spreading the construction of buildings over a period of time; or finding donors or subsidized funding through other corporations; or seeking out grants. Notice that Broad didn't suggest putting this state-of-the-art school in Beverly Hills but in a poorer area close to other cultural facilities. And, hello, if it just happens to improve Grand Avenue, or the downtown area in general, so much the better.

Jacque Heebner

Long Beach

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