As Shakespeare wrote, and Henry the V exclaimed, “ It is once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more .”

Once more a mass community presence is needed at a hearing of a critical report on the proposed severing of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District .The hearing to be held by the Santa Malibu Unification Negotiations Committee will be at Malibu City Hall Monday, night at 7 o’clock. That’s after a scheduled brief, let me repeat with fervent hope, brief, city council meeting., and so I comment this weekend on public radio 97.5 KBU and select websites.

Actually, the meeting on the long awaited results of a long and arduous district divorce will be a repeat of one held earlier this week in Santa Monica. The repeat was felt necessary to also be held in Malibu, so locals not wanting or able to trek down the coast could hear the details and comment if they wanted to. But even if they don’t testify, their presence in large numbers are needed, to indicate strong community support for the separation.

The Malibu separation advocates feel it’s important for parents and the community to understand the financial implications of the proposed separation, though in my opinion they will be what they are.  I feel they really wont make a difference in the long run, as Malibu having it own school district becomes a point of pride while spurring real estate values. Good schools tend to do that.

But to be sure, for that to happen, Malibu is going to have to address its own academic and administrative school issues in a timely, responsible and reasonable manner. Ideologues and demagogues need not apply.

As has been noted , Malibu is essentially an attractive small, rural seacoast community; Santa Monica very much an urban entity, with a disproportionate voter ratio of 84% to 16. And for all its pretensions and popular liberal image, Santa Monica, and particularly its school board, has been innately conservative, yielding to a self-serving bureaucracy.

Student needs should be the bottom line, not money, which incidentally does not necessarily translate into a better educational environment.

Meanwhile, all through the protracted negotiations the Santa Monica representatives have been viewing Malibu as a cash cow for the district. And this while Santa Monica wants to admit it or not, is itself a burgeoning, gentrifying city with a increasing tax base and a decreasing student and minority population. The district also I feel frankly has been recalcitrant, no doubt feeling its staff will have to be trimmed.

In the middle of this morass is an evolving Malibu and no less than the efficacy of public education and local control, if not convenience and community identity. It is a dream that has persisted for nearly 30 years, before Malibu became a city, and actually was in the minds of many when they voted for cityhood. Colonization in this day and age is an aberration.

The separation is a democratic imperative that cannot be denied, the arguments for it are heartfelt and cogent, and also frankly ethical.

See you at the hearing Monday night, which I’ll be going to as the parent of two children who began their education in then welcoming Santa Monica public schools, and eventually graduated with honors from our esteemed Malibu High School.


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Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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