Thursday, October 30, 2008



From the LA Times Homeroom Blog by Howard Blume

10:52 PM, October 28, 2008 -- Here's some breaking political news out of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Two-term school board member Marlene Canter, 60, will not seek a third term, the Times learned Tuesday night.

Her decision, which she characterized as purely personal, leaves the contest for her Westside seat wide open.

Canter was best known for leading efforts to ban sodas and junk food, while also improving the nutrition, taste and accessibility of school breakfasts and lunches. As other accomplishments, she also points to an increased focus on academic accountability and improved test scores as well as the district's massive school construction program.

Canter, who owned a successful teacher-training business, financed her own initial bid for office and was never regarded as beholden to various political interests that have tried to control the seven-member school board.


●●smf's2¢: Blume misses Marlene's most important effort: As President of the Board of Education she led the fight against AB1381 and the mayor’s attempt to take over LAUSD. She led that fight in the state legislature, she led the fight in the courts and she led the fight in the war of public opinion — and she never, never, never gave up .

  • She was relentless in the legislature, where the mayor held and played all the cards masterfully; she lost be three votes.
  • She was relentless in War of Public Opinion – she was everywhere - against a charismatic and popular mayor who was never able to muster the popular support he mistakenly believed he had.
  • She was relentless in the courts, where the cause prevailed and the takeover attempt was proved unconstitutional and morally and legally wrong.

Marlene was not alone in these efforts, like a true leader she is pragmatic, a consensus builder and a shaper of opinion – she led from the middle alongside Superintendent Romer, a majority of the Board of Education, General Counsel Kevin Reed and a consortium of partners including the League of Women Voters, The California School Boards Association, AALA, PTA, other parents and Congressperson Maxine Waters.

When the fight was over she did her best to pick up the pieces and repair relationships with her opponents. The word ‘relentless’ appears three times previous, if Marlene relented here it was not from weakness but in strength.

Of all the recent boardmembers Marlene has the singular distinction of being a businessperson; she had made and balanced budgets and met payrolls in the private sector. She had made money in education and improved the training of teachers and learning of children in doing so – there is no shame and indeed great honor in that.  She was also an educator and understood how the business model and the education mission could  fit together to benefit the kids – not the system or the bottom line.

Marlene would argue that her legacy is about improving instruction and nutrition; the futures, the health and well being of LAUSD schoolchildren …and she would be right.


In rereading the above I can only add that the parts in the past tense remain true in the present and hopefully into the future. This is neither a eulogy nor an elegy -  4LAKids wishes Marlene the best in her future endeavors; this school district and its children are better for her service. 

Good job! - smf

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