By Steve Gunn

LOS ANGELES – People complain about bad schools.

Then they complain when somebody tries to fix them.

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That’s what’s happening in Los Angeles, where the once-thriving Crenshaw High School has fallen on hard times, with dropout rates soaring and student achievement going down the drain.

John Deasy, the reform-minded superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, responded with a plan to break the campus into three smaller magnet schools and require teachers to reapply for their jobs.

The school board unanimously approved Deasy’s plan Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It would seem such action on the part of the district would be exactly what residents would want. Instead of settling for a failing school in their neighborhood, they know the situation is being addressed and better education is on the way.

Yet a crowd of protesters took turns speaking at Tuesday’s school board meeting, and many opposed Deasy’s plan.

They argued that the campus has had too many administrators in recent years, and not enough continuity. They argued that the transformation to three magnet schools would be disruptive for students.

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“Crenshaw means family,” one graduate was quoted as saying by the Times. “The board doesn’t seem to understand that there is a strong legacy and a bond. We are very passionate about our school.”

Deasy responded by reminding residents that the district is trying to create better opportunities for students.

“It is a civil right for students to be able to read and do mathematics,” he said. “It is a fundamental right to graduate – and it is not happening at Crenshaw. Students are not learning. Students are not graduating. Students are not able to read.”

That wasn’t enough for many of the protesters. After the board voted to approve the transformation plan, many in the audience chanted “The fight is not over! We will take over!”

That prompted school board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte to quip, “I’d want to know why anyone would want a child to go to a broken school.”

Citizens of communities with failing schools must make up their minds, once and for all. Do they want to maintain dropout factories that can’t educate children, all in the name of tradition, or do they want schools that get the job done?

They cast the votes and pay the taxes. The future is up to them.