Once upon a time, Ripston was a frustrated New York housewife with do-good instincts. In California, she transformed herself into a formidable force as head of one of the ACLU's largest and, some would say, most liberal affiliates. She stood up to angry San Fernando Valley parents opposed to school integration ...
So much seemed possible when she came to California 39 years ago: She was excited about enrolling her children in its top-rated public schools and living in a state where citizens have the power of the initiative. But school quality has declined. And the ballot initiative has been used to reverse victories --against the death penalty, for school busing, affirmative action and gay marriage -- that she fought so hard to win.
The ACLU imposed court-ordered busing from South Central to San Fernando Valley schools from about 1978-1981, a key blow from which public schools in the SFV never quite recovered. The smart money from then on went to exurbs outside of the LAUSD, such as Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Santa Clarita, Orange County and to the San Gabriel Valley, a similar suburb, but one divided up into many small municipalities.
Too bad Sim City wasn't around to consume Ms. Ripston's prodigious energies and teach her a little bit about cause and effect.