November 30, 2020
Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization
Re: City of Malibu Petition for Unification
Dear Committee Members:
Santa Monica Forward is a political organization that takes positions on a range of local policy issues. As our mission statement says, “We are working for a diverse, progressive, sustainable and equitable Santa Monica…” Santa Monica Forward’s Steering Committee includes former, current and future SMMUSD parents as well as graduates and other supporters of SMMUSD schools. Thus, it is important to us that we express our support for an equitable solution to the ongoing discussion about the future of SMMUSD schools. The separation of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District into two districts -- a process counterintuitively called unification -- runs anathema to Santa Monica Forward’s goals of promoting inclusive and equitable outcomes. A Malibu-only district would be markedly less diverse and further concentrate wealth.
Currently, there are two competing plans to handle the untangling of financial commitments between Malibu and Santa Monica. Santa Monica Forward supports the well thought-out and transparent analysis and path forward outlined in the District’s plan. It is clear that Malibu will continue its quest to separate from SMMUSD in a manner devoid of equity and fairness and without even a cursory discussion, much less a proposed solution to the problem. Its current proposal creates a very homogeneous, white, and wealthy school district for Malibu students.
Malibu’s proposed competing plan doesn’t take into account the long-term financial impact on separating the two districts and as such, threatens to leave a newly-formed Santa Monica School District, which would be more economically, racially, and ethnically diverse than a Malibu School District, with significantly less per-capita funding available to serve its students.
Access to quality education is essential for providing people with opportunities necessary to improve their circumstances. That is why diverse, well-funded school districts are indispensable to creating equitable outcomes. If our district must be separated, then Santa Monica Forward insists that it be done in a way that does not leave behind the most vulnerable students. Of the two proposed plans, the District’s is the only one that takes this important principle into account and provides a clear analysis of the financial situation.
If we are committed to achieving the most equitable outcome possible given the reality of Malibu’s insistence on leaving the district, there is only one path forward: please adopt the District’s proposed plan.
Co-chair, Santa Monica Forward Co-chair, Santa Monica Forward