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Assembly District Candidates to Talk Education at Santa Monica Student Forum

Frank Gruber for City Council


Ted Winterer for City Council 2012


Re-elect Robert Kronovet for Rent Control Board



Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pico Business Improvement District
7th Annual Pico Festival
Sunday, October 28th

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

October 24, 2012 -- Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and State Assembly incumbent Betsy Butler will square off at a student-moderated forum Thursday over the troubled state of California's public schools.

The forum, which will be held at the MLK Auditorium at the Main Branch Library at 7:00 p.m., is sponsored by the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force and the League of Women Voters and will ask the candidates to talk about the crisis facing California's education system.

“We're going to try to get past the talking points,” said Barbara Inatsugu, one of the coordinators of the event. “What we're trying to do is to have conversations on issues that relate to education.”

The forum has been organized and will be moderated entirely by students from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

“The students are in the process of crafting questions now,” said Inatsugu, who added that the students will be organizing their questions around the theme of students' right to education.

“One of the overriding concerns is the right for every child to an excellent public school education,” said Bloom.

Currently, California ranks 50th in the U.S. in teacher-student ratios and 46th in spending per pupil.

“Californians pay more taxes than the national average, yet the state spends a smaller proportion of personal income on schools,” said Inatsugu, yet California ranks third in the country in spending in corrections.

“It's a matter of priorities. We can afford to spend more on education,” she said.

“One in eight kids in the U.S. are in California schools,” said Pam Bruns, another of the coordinators for Thursday night's forum. With that in mind, she said, it's very important that fixing the school system be a high priority.

On Thursday, Eloy Oakley, president of Long Beach City College, will offer a presentation in favor of Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown's initiative to prevent further budget cuts to schools in California.

Sandy Escobedo, a senior policy analyst with the Advancement Project, will present in favor of Proposition 38, which promises to raise $10 billion a year for schools. It also promises to restore budget cuts to schools.

“One or both of (the propositions) will help, but they don't solve the problem of the failure of the legislature to provide a predictable, ongoing revenue stream for education,” said Bloom, who said the crisis was a result of Sacramento's dysfunctionality and not the current economic climate.

“This issue predates the recession by many years,” he said.

For more information about Propositions 30 and 38, visit

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