Letter: Contemplating support for separate Malibu school district

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Letter to the Editor

I am a member of AMPS, and recently received a flier seeking donations using the hopeful premise, “Imagine Malibu with a world class independent school district.” Current city council members are listed among the prominent players on the AMPS literature. My family has always treated education as a number one priority, and over the years we have been extremely discouraged by the absence of a true partnership with SMMUSD. In fact, that was why I joined AMPS.

I am now very concerned that should a new district be created, it would be led by the same folks that have shown such poor judgment and infuriated so many Malibu residents (think Charmlee, MHS’ athletic fields). These concerns are exacerbated by the troubling realities of small town politics. A separate district would likely be voted in by a minority of residents in Malibu, just like the current council. Only 2,662 votes were cast out of 8,672 eligible voters in Malibu’s April 2012 election (27.65 percent). Just ask yourself how that has that worked out for those who formed Malibu to insure that its rural nature was preserved. Should trends continue, the same electoral machine would dictate a poor choice for future school board members. From what I can tell, the grand “educational” vision of these players (i.e. future board members) is televised, adult sports games from the MHS press box and high density housing next to MHS.

An example of what a real world class school looks like is Oxford Academy in Cypress, which has the same student population as MHS and has a 99.6 college readiness score (as opposed to MHS’ 50.4). It has a nice sports program, but one that is clearly secondary to the academic curriculum (no football, no lights, etc. ). A truly visionary program at MHS would prioritize those elements of the MHS campus (i.e. dark skies, organic gardens and adjacent ocean) and foster a truly unique academic environment.

I want to support AMPS, but not until it can demonstrate that it can field a viable group of initial board members who have the right set of priorities.

Cynthia Kesselman