We’re going to need a bigger boat

Bruce Barton’s Nov. 20 Los Altos Town Crier editorial asks, “Can’t we all just get along?” and correctly adds that we’re all exhausted from this decade-long BCS-LASD conflict, which has been intensely “us versus them” since the beginning. For one side to gain has meant that the other must lose, and we’ve been searching desperately for a win-win.

But the conflict seems to be getting worse, not better. www.tinyurl.com/bcs-lawsuits

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BCS-LASD lawsuits are multiplying, tense public negotiations over facilities are ongoing, peace-making gatherings were held in church, district-run citizen focus groups held, grass roots citizen activist committees formed, parent protests and photo ops staged, political campaigns launched, government leaders enlisted, full-page ads and magazine articles expertly crafted, endless citizen letters and responses have been lobbed online and off.

It seems we’ve tried almost everything to bridge this community divide.

I used to think very much like Barton, but I now suspect I was wrong. No amount of small town kumbayah seems to mitigate the ferocity with which BCS leadership opposes and confronts the LASD leadership and community at large, in person, in the press or in court.

I know I won’t win any popularity contests by saying so (and I could be wrong again) but I’m going to predict that this community conflict isn’t going away any time soon.

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My reason is simple yet daunting: This is no quaint suburban kerfuffle. Major external forces promote this community divide. BCS vs LASD is an important strategic battleground in an expansive CA charter school movement propelled by significant political and financial interests from far beyond our community.

For charter insiders and promoters, Bullis Charter School is the sharp point of the spear in the California movement, so even if we agreed locally to end things peaceably, outside interests would likely interfere to discourage such a settlement. There’s simply too much money, ego and legal precedent at stake to allow this cat fight to end. We must look up and out—beyond our city limits—and take aim at the real causes.

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Like Captain Quint, we’re going to need a bigger boat.

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