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School Board Victor Rejoins Battle on Busing : Fresh From Victory, Armor Hits the Road

Times Staff Writer

Just a few hours after winning election to the Los Angeles school board, David Armor on Wednesday boarded a plane to North Carolina, where he will testify against a mandatory busing plan.

As a school board member, Armor, 46, will represent the West San Fernando Valley, the birthplace of the anti-busing movement in Los Angeles. Although there has been no mandatory busing in the city since 1981, Armor stressed in his campaign that a recent court decision has made it possible for mass busing to someday return.

Armor’s battles against mandatory desegregation plans have taken him from Boston to Los Angeles. By his own estimation he has testified against mandatory busing in 25 to 30 cases. During the campaign, he stressed that the “West Valley can’t take a chance with a representative that does not have a proven track record in opposition to mandatory busing.”

Lives in Tarzana

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Armor, a Tarzana resident, received 30,043 votes, or 53.4% of the vote. Elizabeth Ginsburg, a government and history teacher at Chatsworth High School, garnered 46.6% with 26,203 votes. About 19% of West Valley voters went to the polls.

Ginsburg, who also opposes mandatory busing, did well among voters in Reseda, Granada Hills, Canoga Park and Chatsworth. The bulk of Armor’s vote came from conservative strongholds in Northridge, Woodland Hills and Encino.

Armor has promised to make restoring discipline to the schools one of his top priorities when he joins the school board in July. He has also pledged to work against the sale of any of the 19 West Valley schools in the district that have been closed because of low enrollment.

Roberta Weintraub, who also represents the Valley on the school board, said she was “very pleased” to have Armor on the board.

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“He’s very analytical and wants to be a policy-maker. It is going to be very exciting to have some fresh views on the board,” Weintraub said.

Larry Gonzalez, a liberal who represents East Los Angeles on the board, said Armor’s election should not change the balance on the seven-member board, which is generally considered to have three liberals, two moderates and two conservatives. Tom Bartman, whom Armor will replace, is regarded as a conservative.

Gonzalez Asks for Flexibility

“I hope that Mr. Armor will come to the board with an open mind,” Gonzalez said. “I hope that he will be flexible on important issues that come before the board. It is high time that all of us come together and work together for the benefit of all young people in this city.”

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Armor holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UC Berkeley, where he was student body president in 1959-1960, and received a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University. He taught at Harvard and at UCLA before joining the Rand Corp., a think-tank in Santa Monica, in 1973.

In 1982, Armor made his first try for elective office in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Rep. Anthony Beilenson (D-Los Angeles). After his loss to Beilenson, Armor left Rand and established his own research firm, National Policy Analysts Inc. Armor’s firm has worked with school districts in formulating desegregation programs.

Used GOP Connections

President Reagan appointed Armor to the National Council on Educational Research in 1983. That groups advises U.S. Department of Education on policy.

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Armor used his previous campaign experience and his Republican connections to fashion a loosely knit but well-trained staff for his school board race. Ginsburg relied heavily on contributions and volunteers supplied by the United Teachers of Los Angeles, the district’s largest teachers’ union.

Armor’s campaign raised about $70,000. Contributions to the Ginsburg campaign totaled about $28,000, campaign statements show.

Part of Armor’s strategy was to make a strong push for absentee voters, who tend to be more conservative than other voters. After the absentee ballots were counted Tuesday night, Armor had 64% of the vote to Ginsburg’s 36%.

Unable to Catch Up

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Although Ginsburg was able to cut Armor’s lead, she was never able to catch up.

Armor said he wants to see strict enforcement of recent board actions that call for the automatic expulsion of students found with weapons or drugs, or who injure a teacher. During the campaign he pledged to open a West Valley field office and to work for establishment of alternative schools for junior high students who have been expelled or suspended from their regular campuses.


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