Letter: Reaching Status Quo

Letter to the Editor

For Santa Monica residents to argue that Malibu advocates for district separation don’t care about “all the kids”—just their own—is to accidentally or deliberately ignore (and insult) the core idea underlying Malibu’s existential need for local control. The Santa Monica-Malibu School District is already two school districts. Malibu is a discontiguous city, part of a school district that would be illegal to create today and distant from Santa Monica (25 existing school districts are closer to Santa Monica than us). Malibu does not share “substantial community identity” (also, it was “grandfathered illegal” under CCR, Title 5, Section 18573). SMMUSD has two entirely independent PK-12 pathways in two entirely different cities, pathways in which students from one city never interact with each other. The only commonality is that both “districts” schools are governed by the same school board, a school board dominated by 84 percent of voters from only one of the two cities. Other than locally electing a new school board in Malibu and repainting the names on the schools and buses, nothing would be different the day after separation from the day before. 

This is the inescapable logic of SMMUSD, logic being completely ignored by several members of the school board, all—conveniently—from Santa Monica. 

Related to this, even accepting the administrative boundaries of the SMMUSD failed state, “all the kids” needs to mean “all the kids.” Malibu students do not receive equal services. This is true in both course and school offerings. (Course offerings: Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese and Latin at Samohi; only French and Spanish at MHS. Schools: Santa Monica has a dual immersion school and a project-based learning school. Malibu has none. Samohi offers an ethnic studies course, also not available in Malibu.) Even if we could leave aside the fundamental voting rights issues at stake, “all the kids” must include equal services for “all the kids,” including Malibu’s. Malibu needs a strong presence at the next school board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16, in Santa Monica to send a message to the school board that the status quo simply is not acceptable any longer.

Melanie Goudzwaard