Thursday, October 21, 2010

Around Town: About class size

When I think of the La Cañada Unified School District, I think of state Sen. Carol Liu, who began her career as a PTA president and then went on to other elective offices.

When I think about our school district I also think of the hundreds of dedicated parents who are now raising the next generation.

It's tough to get your bearings when you are in the middle of raising a family. We live in a multicultural society which places pressures on young families. Frankly, the Los Angeles basin is barely sustainable for many young families. The price of homes, despite the foreclosures, is way too high in comparison to their salaries. The public school systems, outside of La Cañada, are often abysmal. Private school tuition has skyrocketed. The life style, particularly in the city of Los Angeles, which is prone to water main eruptions, home burglaries and traffic jams, is not exactly pleasant.

People move to our town, to La Cañada Flintridge, primarily for safety. We have low crime statistics except for periodic bank robberies. People also move here for the schools. These are mothers and fathers who care about their children.

Now, whatever the economics of the situation for the La Cañada Unified School District, we need to embrace, understand and nurture our young families. They believe that smaller class sizes are better for their children. Most studies support their view.

Some of the young families complain about permit transfers into our district. The issue is not just that the permit kids, including many from the Sagebrush area (which is in our city but falls within the Glendale Unified School District), increase the class size. The real issue is that we have a double-tier system.

The families who have the guts to take time from their busy schedule, go to school meetings and speak their piece are not permit families. Permit families run scared. They donate to the foundation. They go along with the program. They don't have the freedom to rock the boat because they want the permit renewed for the next year. The school board needs to offer permits to all families in the Sagebrush area. The Sagebrush families live within our city limits. We need to tell them that each permit is for all of their children, and that each permit will last until each child graduates from high school.

This will create community.

Community also happens at meetings of the school board. To the moms and dads who speak up at the board meetings, good for you! The district may not have the funds to do everything you want, but it is important that you show up, speak up and lobby for your kids' education. Reduced class size is a worthy goal.

More importantly, your actions this year set an example for your children, which can be even more educational than school. Your actions empower your kids and model the skill of engaging in the democratic process.

I hope a few dozen of you decide to run for office.

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at

  • Around Town: About class size (10-14-10) La Canada Valley Sun
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