The Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education meeting on Oct. 29 was full of robust discussions and debates about school curriculum and computer access for all BHUSD students. Particularly interesting was a proposal by Board President Noah Margo to institute a financial literacy curriculum for Beverly Hills High School (BHHS) students. He also asked fellow board members to consider requiring BHHS students to participate in community service sites, such as homeless shelters and soup kitchens in order to “instill a sense of humanity” as a learned skill along with traditional academic instruction.
President Margo recommended that financial literacy should be a semester course for BHHS freshman commencing in 2024. He explained that financial literacy is an important curriculum because across the nation, many students are not being taught at home how to manage their finances resulting in future issues such as college students with credit card debt. Margo stressed the importance of high school students learning about such topics as budgeting, understanding the Federal Reserve System, credit card use, and how to maintain checking/savings accounts as part of “real world” life skills experience. Board members recognized the importance of financial literacy and considered various options of making the course an elective, requirement for graduation, or an online course. Margo stated that it would be “a disservice to students” not to offer the curriculum and suggested that high school seniors demonstrate that they know how to manage their finances before they graduate. It was ultimately determined to have BHUSD staff look into the feasibility of the options and report back with a presentation regarding the financial literacy curriculum options.
The Board members also considered President’s Margo’s proposal to require high school students to get involved in community service. Board members agreed that such activities would make students more “compassionate and well- rounded” and seemed consistent with the BHUSD Positive Behavior initiative; however, they expressed concerns that too many course requirements may cause more stress and anxiety for students especially since some students may pursue alternative pathways to college that would not require extensive course study. The option of having the community service as a one day field trip experience rather than a full curriculum was also posed in order to expose students to the world outside their communities. Margo stated that students should “spend a little more time thinking about other people” in order to make a positive difference in their communities.
Another hot topic that was discussed to be further explored at another meeting, was the effort to obtain more laptops for high school students to create a 1:1 ratio of students to laptops. The Board considered options such as redistributing the laptops that the elementary students have to the high school students and in turn giving the elementary students devices with fewer bandwidth that would be less expensive to replace.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 12.