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Off to N. Carolina to Testify : Armor Doesn’t Miss Beat in Battle Against Busing

Times Staff Writer

Only hours after winning election to the Los Angeles Board of Education, 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 the return of mass busing a possibility.

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

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.

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

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

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 to establish alternative schools for junior high students who have been expelled or suspended from their regular campuses.

Roberta Weintraub, who also represents the Valley on the board, said she is “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 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.

Time to Get Together

“I hope that Mr. Armor will come to the board with an open mind,” Gonzalez said. “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 the University of California, Berkeley, where he was student body president in 1959-1960, and received a doctorate in sociology from Harvard University. He taught at Harvard and at UCLA before joining the Rand Corp., a Santa Monica think tank, in 1973.

In 1982, Armor made his first try for elective office in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Rep. Anthony C. 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.

President Reagan appointed Armor to the National Council on Educational Research in 1983. This groups advises and makes recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education on policy matters.

Used GOP Connections

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Armor used his Republican connections in fashioning a loose-knit but well-trained staff for the school board campaign. 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 came to 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 on average than other voters. After the absentee ballots were counted Tuesday night, Armor had 64% of the vote, contrasted with Ginsburg’s 36%.


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