Re "Public schools offer legacy admissions," May 16
Although I believe that local school districts can and should make their own policies, I was a bit taken aback by the Beverly Hills trustee's statement: "What's wrong with being elitist? We're Beverly Hills."
This is probably true, but it does strike me as odd and sad that someone who is a trustee of public education would come right out and say such a thing.
It would seem to me that such sentiment by an official flies directly in the face of the history, ideals and philosophy of public education.
We respectfully take issue with the idea that our policy change prioritizing the children of alumni in the granting of inter-district permits was, at least in Santa Monica-Malibu's case, about perpetuating wealth and privilege. In fact, it was just the opposite. Santa Monica has long been proud of its ethnic and economic diversity.
But Santa Monica has, in many ways, become a victim of its own success, with skyrocketing housing prices that have made it increasingly expensive to live here. Because of Proposition 13 and the city's commitment to affordable housing and rent control, many of our less-wealthy residents have been able to stay, but their children have too often been priced out. These are people who grew up here, attended our schools and whose parents dug deep, voted for and paid extra taxes for our schools.
We give out few inter-district permits, and already prioritize employees' kids, siblings of district students and children already in our schools. But we wanted to recognize our diverse history and send a signal to those who grew up here that we still consider them to be part of our greater family.
Ben Allen and
Oscar de la Torre
The writers are members of the Santa Monica-Malibu school board.
As a permit student at Beverly Hills High, I was dismayed to learn that the district has elected to pursue a legacy admittance policy at the cost of its opportunity permit program, a move designed to attract the money of wealthy alumni -- the very people who can afford to send their children elsewhere.
It is truly disheartening that this district, which remains far better off than most, continues to place financial gain over students who need a high-quality education now more than ever.