Patterico's Pontifications


Quote of the Day, Beverly Hills Version

Filed under: Education,Government — DRJ @ 9:01 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

“What’s wrong with being elitist? We’re Beverly Hills.”

— Beverly Hills public school trustee Brian Goldberg, explaining why he favors priority for out-of-district legacy admissions at Beverly Hills public schools.

The Beverly Hills and Santa Monica-Malibu public school districts have voted to grant an admissions preference to the children of alumni living outside their enrollment boundaries. Beverly Hills Unified School District has a history of special admissions, but this legacy policy has stirred up controversy:

“Districts have broad discretion to set enrollment policies, as long as they do not violate state or federal law. Constitutional scholar and UC Irvine law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky said the legacy policies are not unconstitutional, although he said he found them troubling.

“They give benefits to those who often least need them and deny that benefit to those who often most need them,” he said.

Bill Koski, a Stanford University law professor who specializes in education policy, said the preferences could widen the gap between affluent and poor districts. “The adequacy of education funding in California is problematic when even our wealthiest school districts feel they must resort to this type of thing,” Koski said.

Others, including Beverly Hills trustee Myra Demeter, criticized the policies for perpetuating privilege. “It favors the children of a group of people — district alumni old enough to have children of school age — perceived by many to be white and wealthy,” she said.

Supporters point out that Beverly Hills Unified offers hundreds of permits to students who live outside its bounds. Some are intended to foster diversity at the high school; others are for children of city and district employees and the largest group is for students with “opportunity permits.” Anyone can apply for the latter, which are used to boost state funding, fill out classes and allow a richer array of courses and activities.

The board voted this year to give no new opportunity permits, to continue the other permit programs and to allow 11 more legacy slots next year.”

More at the link.

Incidentally, Trustee Goldberg voted against the recent admissions change because he felt legacies should be given even greater priority than the current policy provides.


17 Responses to “Quote of the Day, Beverly Hills Version”

  1. Well, at least Mr Goldberg is honest about what he wants; he’s not trying to say one thing and do another.

    The Dana who appreciates the honesty (474dfc)

  2. I don’t have children, but the few decent public high schools in Chicago have open enrollments for anyone who lives in the city limits, provided that they have the required GPA before they’re considered. I’ve also talked to parents who’ve been able to get their kids admitted via the usual connections at the school as well through Alumni – but it’s never been stated publicy as demonstrated here. Is this the usual MO for high -performing public HS’s in CA? Quick, someone tell Lawrence O’Donnell!

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  3. Hanover High School, the town high school where Dartmouth is located, charges tuition for non-residents. When I was there in 1995, it was $11,000 per child per year. Hanover High students have high tech lab equipment and some even take classes at Dartmouth. I thought that was a clever way to deal with the issues of New Hampshire where some towns are too small to afford schools. It would also deal with problems like this. Just charge tuition and nobody would be harmed.

    In fact, it might be an incentive for public schools to upgrade to the point where they could attract students, sort of like vouchers in reverse.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  4. ________________________________________

    The following story sort of goes hand-in-hand with this thread’s topic. It certainly is a major illustration why the philosophy of people of a certain political persuasion (of the left) often is so amazingly nonsensical and foolish.

    And when so many voters — regardless of party affiliation — tend to believe that money, or a lack of enough, is a big reason our public schools aren’t doing better, or that money is the magic pill to make schools better, well, it’s no surprise that we end up with simpletons like the one currently occupying the White House, or why even his predecessor, when it came to the federal budget, allowed himself to end up as a major spendthrift.

    BTW, the federal judge mentioned below was appointed by (drum roll, please!) Jimmy Carter. I’m sure the judicial choices of the current president will be much better [sarcasm].

    Paul Ciotti,

    For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.”

    In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.

    Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country….The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.

    The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal.

    The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.

    To entice white students to come to Kansas City, the district had set aside $900,000 for advertising, including TV ads, brochures, and videocassettes. If a suburban student needed a ride, Kansas City had a special $6.4 million transportation budget for busing. If the student didn’t live on a bus route, the district would send a taxi.

    Although Kansas City did increase teacher pay a total of 40 percent to an average of about $37,000 (maximum was $49,008 per year for Ph.D.s with 20 years experience), test scores for the district were consistently below state and national averages. Parochial school teachers, in contrast, earned an average of $24,423, but their students’ test scores were consistently above state and national averages.

    Because the state was paying 75 percent of the desegregation costs, [federal judge Russell] Clark wanted to equalize the burden by having the school district increase property taxes. But local voters, the majority of whom were older and white, repeatedly refused, whereupon Clark, taking matters into his own hands, ordered that property taxes in the district be doubled (from $2.05 to $4 for each $100 of assessed value).

    …By the time Judge Clark took himself off the case in March 1997, he was a deeply frustrated man. For more than 20 years he had devoted 20 percent of his time as a judge to the Kansas City case. And despite all the effort he had made to order the plan, fund the plan, and keep the plan on track–often in the face of intense opposition from the very people he was trying to help–the plan wasn’t working.

    The number of white suburban students attracted to the district by all the new magnet schools was less than 10 percent of the number that Clark had expected. Year after year the test scores would come out, the achievement levels would be no higher than before, and the black-white gap (one-half a standard deviation on a standard bell curve) would be no smaller.


    Mark (411533)

  5. Mark (9:59 am) the KC school fiasco that you referred to was featured on a 60 Minutes segment about a decade or so ago. Even the notoriously liberal hosts on the show concluded that the experiment had been a costly failure. I am not sure how you go about tracking down old reruns of 60 Minutes, but you would no doubt find it interesting to see exactly what an amazing school they built on the taxpayer dime, all for naught.

    JVW (eabe68)

  6. I agree with Mr. Goldberg. What I want most from my daughter’s school is for her fellow students to be children who are like her, from families like hers.

    nk (a1896a)

  7. nk,

    It’s not exactly the same as your point but the article does note that one of the reasons given for the legacy policy is to increase support for school taxes and programs from grandparents who live in Beverly Hills, but whose children and grandchildren have moved away because they can’t afford to live there.

    DRJ (f55947)

  8. It’s not exactly the same as your point but the article does note that one of the reasons given for the legacy policy is to increase support for school taxes and programs from grandparents who live in Beverly Hills, but whose children and grandchildren have moved away because they can’t afford to live there.

    It’s funny that when Harvard or Yale gives admission preferences to children of alumni (presumably to mollify the alumni and keep donations flowing) it is considered to be the height of unfairness and privileged white-boy clubiness to most progressives, but when the local school district does the same thing it is a logical and rational response to tough economic times. I am, of course, presuming that most of the key players in this Beverly Hills situation are avowed progressives, which based upon my experiences living in Southern California I am willing to bet on.

    JVW (eabe68)

  9. Even if the children in question turn out to be real closet cases…like their parents?

    Rich Fader (295108)

  10. #8 You are wrong. Don’t confuse Beverly Hills with Santa Monica or Harvard with UCLA.

    Beverly Hills’ city and school board politics are virtually non-ideological–politics there is dominated by issues of zoning, development, taxes, and other local matters.

    And as a non-legacy Harvard College graduate, I can also state it is false to say that legacy admissions are “considered to be the height of unfairness and privileged white-boy clubiness to most progressives”. Harvard was filled with progressives and no one minded legacy admissions, since they don’t HURT the non-legacy admittees, who are the vast majority. In fact they HELP the majority as a spur for donations. Of course, it is completely different for selective state schools like UCLA, which are supported by taxpayers. For those institutions, legacy admittees are an abomination.

    Public school districts are not like Harvard or UCLA, though, because they are NOT selective as to their core student body–they are required to admit and educate any child who lives within its borders. So where’s the injury for choosing outside student A or B to their mission? The answer is none.

    Cyrus Sanai (ada6da)

  11. I presume that no resident of the district gets bumped. So, in order of rationality for out of district residents, I would say merit trumps legacy and legacy trumps diversity. Considering also that merit and diversity can be in one student. The Yale/Harvard comparison is not really on point because every admission there is in essence discretionary.

    nk (a1896a)

  12. Cyrus,

    I guess that’s true if there are lots of permits so everyone who wants to go to a Beverly Hills or Santa Monica public school can attend. But what if that’s not true and there is competition among out-of-district students? Wouldn’t most progressives object if legacies get preference over diversity?

    DRJ (f55947)

  13. We cross-posted, Cyrus.

    nk (a1896a)

  14. I applaud these schools for doing whatever they feel is necessary to keep their schools high-performing. The schools in the surrounding LAUSD are a mess, partially because they’ve had an open school choice policy.

    MayBee (c50b9d)

  15. This is an old problem. In 1969, I bought a house (my first) in South Pasadena because it had its own schools. Pasadena was a mess and home prices there were in free fall. South Pasadena, t the time, was in a similar situation to Hanover, NH. The schools were a major attraction and therefore people paid a lot of attention. That was, of course, before teachers’ unions took over.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  16. It is a good economic decision for highly rated school districts. Many have some extra capacity, and can educate an additional student for less than the $6,000 per year the state pays. However, they don’t want to let in the hoi polloi, which would bring down the test scores. Kids whose grandparents live in rich neighborhoods, and whose parents went to good schools, are more likely to do well than the random kid pulled from the LA area. Therefore, let these kids in instead of opening it up to everyone. I predict Palos Verdes Unified follows suit.

    TomHynes (332f2c)

  17. I think the rounding out the classes issue shouldn’t be underestimated. The school district probably has enough teachers to keep class sizes reasonably small, but if too few students are interested in a particular subject, then it will probably be dropped for a semester.

    I’d imagine that schools like these would try to offer the full suite of Advance Placement, SAT prep, CLEP(?) and other college credit earning classes.

    Xmas (36a34c)

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