Candidate Renews Call to Break Up LAUSD

A candidate for U.S. Congress is trying to revive a decades-old debate in the San Fernando Valley. Should the Los Angeles Unified School District be divided into smaller districts?

Marc Litchman

Marc Litchman

Marc Litchman, 55, of Reseda, is challenging Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) for the 30th Congressional District which represents almost all of the western San Fernando Valley.

Litchman, a Democrat who served on the staff of former Rep. Howard Berman, said the first bill he would introduce would be to break up L.A. Unified.

“The schools have to perform, and I think we’ve all been through this for quite some time. They’re not performing to the level we all hoped they would. In Los Angeles, the biggest barrier to that is the school district,” he said.

The idea is not new. In the early 2000s, a group called Finally Restoring Educational Excellence petitioned the state to create north and south Valley districts independent of the L.A. Unified. The California Department Education opposed the petition, finding it would adversely affect instructional programs in the district and create an inequitable division of property and facilities.

In 2006, Assemblymember Keith Richman of Granada Hills and Sen. George Runner of Lancaster introduced legislation to divide the district into more than a dozen smaller districts. At least one mayoral candidate ran on the platform of breaking up the school district.

Litchman wants to take the fight to the federal level. His bill would make school districts with more than 100,000 students ineligible for federal aid. Under his plan, the West Valley might have one or two separate districts.

He believes it is too difficult for people to know how money is being spent in large districts.

“At small school districts, the accountability level is a lot higher. Eyeball to eyeball, face to face, you can talk to people,” he said. “A smaller school district means kids are going to perform better educationally, teachers are going to be happier, class sizes are going to be smaller and taxpayer costs are going to go down.”

Litchman argued that other large school districts, such as New York and Chicago and even San Diego, face the same struggles as L.A. Unified. He points to Long Beach Unified, which has approximately 85,000 students, as an example of a diverse high-performing district. Despite all of the failed attempts to create multiple districts, Litchman believes the plan has support.

“I think there’s a lot of taxpayer, educator, teacher support. I think there’s a ton of it,” he said.

  • Rene Diedrich

    I agree, as the structure is so profoundly flawed it creates a condition of corriuptipn and incredible waste. When millions are being bilked by phony invoices as today’s news reported, $100k of food is thrown away daily and ipad rollouts are purchased with bond money that should be spend on refurbishing crumbling inner cuty campuses
    There is an urgent resistance to decentralizing LAUSD from, the upper ranks, which brought Sup, David Brewer down days after he annoced a sensible plan to divide the district into smaller systems. It does not work as it is for anyone but the criminal and croney , but they are a large part of LAUSD, a Fortune 500 company, Steve Zimmer likes to boast .
    Many commmunities have broke off from LAUSD. .
    . they tend to thrive like Long Beach, PV, Torrance , Passdena, etc
    However,the district wields tremendous power and push because of all that funding . This is why so little of it is spent on stidents. With all these charter schools moving in our school sites and erupting with new scandals, it is too much to follow much less oversee. The mayor is not likely to take the district over as local busybody billionaire urges. The city is plenty of work ahd what des he know about education lesdership? By breaking things up, taxpayers will dodge a bullet because privatizerd are descending on the school districts’ assets , especially the real estate.

  • Jonathan Kim

    LAUSD must be broken up. It is too big to manage.