If cities everywhere, in California, across the country, world wide, have a common concern it is not their urban design, as usually explored here, it is public schools.
People may not give a damn about their communities; not pay taxes, vote, mow the lawn, or even nod to neighbors, being nihilists or just plan anti-social. But whether misanthropic or not, having a child in public school connects them to the world.
It is a thin string that tends to bind even the most frail human settlements, and in a democracy, such as ours purports to be, is essential to its function and no less to its future. Schmaltzy I know, but I believe it.
So even if my four accomplished children are way beyond public school, as I certainly am, I am indebted to the institution and as the unquestioned foundation of democracy fiercely support it.
This prompted me the other night to join with the Advocates for Malibu Public Schools to once again rally for an independent school district before a sadly impassive, if not duplicitous, local school board.
How else can you describe the board’s Santa Monica majority dithering inaction made more exasperating by the sanctimonious city’s posture as a bastion of liberal values. Most hypocritical is its treatment of Malibu.
There is just no justifying for Santa Monica, with its 84 percent voter majority, continuing to hold Malibu hostage, with its 16 percent minority. This is further aggravated by the communities being distinctly different and disconnected, separated by 20 miles, one essentially a preening suburban city and the other a exurban village. After all is said and done, democracy’s true test is the majority’s responsibility to guarantee minority rights.
So once again the other night the minority made its case, with speaker after speaker making the point that Malibu is simply asking local control of the schools within its isolated city lines, something that Santa Monica has, and takes for granted
Further, convincingly supported by hard facts, they argued that under the current conditions, with a self serving Santa Monica majority on the board, Malibu is being treated separately and grossly unequally; that Malibu is in a phrase was being short changed in curriculum and cash.
And so it continued, late into the night, with the board’s Santa Monica majority dodging the democratic imperative of home rule, and the paramount moral issue of what will best serve the students of Malibu.The board’s utter failure to step up and do the right thing, reminded me of a poem by Langston Hughes:
“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over- like syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags, like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?