TAMAR Galatzan has challenged her opponent, incumbent Jon Lauritzen, in the LAUSD school board’s San Fernando Valley District 3 race to a series of debates before the May 15 runoff election.These candidates only met at one forum before the primary, a disservice to voters with control of the schools hinging on the outcome of their contest. Debates in which the candidates get down to the real issues – talk about how they will actually fix the educational program – is what’s needed, not more hot air about who should hold power. That’s the kind of public conversation the parents, students and taxpayers of Los Angeles have longed for since the 1970s. And it’s not just these candidates who need to speak up. It’s the mayor, the teachers, the superintendent and everyone who says the state of our schools as the true measure of the state of our city. Apathetic voters were only partially to blame for the abysmal turnout of less than 8 percent in the last election. Neither the political leadership nor the candidates laid concrete terms on the table, and they failed to energize all but the most dedicated voters. The entire race was couched in broader terms – pick one side if you liked the mayor’s generalities about improving education; the other if you still trusted the school board to reform itself despite owing its allegiance to the unions. Even beyond the city, this debate is needed. Studies commissioned by the governor were released last week outlining just how bad California’s public education system is and the stupendous costs of improving it are. Last week, we challenged Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to lay out the details of his reform plan for the Los Angeles Unified School District. We now extend that challenge broadly to all with a stake in our schools. What must be done to transform LAUSD into America’s best big city school district? The public has a right, a need, to the answers to this question.