California Lawmakers Introduce Measures for College Admission Reform

"For every student admitted on bribery, there was an honest and talented student that was denied an opportunity to go to college"

Democratic lawmakers from across California on Thursday introduced measures to reform the college admission process following the nationwide bribery scheme that helped admit children of wealthy parents to elite U.S. schools.

Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Orange County), and Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas) proposed six different measures which include:

  • Strengthening checks and balances
  • Banning preferential treatment for donors and alumni
  • Phasing out the use of standardized tests,
  • Regulating admissions consultants
  • Prohibiting fradulent tax write-offs
  • Auditing risks of fraud in admissions
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"For every student admitted on bribery, there was an honest and talented student that was denied an opportunity to go to college," McCarty said at a news conference Thursday.

At least 50 people were charged in the college admission scheme earlier this month, which included not only cheating on the admissions tests but also bribing coaches to gain admission to schools like USC, UCLA, Stanford and Yale. One of the students were photoshopped to look like he played water polo.

McCarthy said he's authoring the checks and balances bill for special admissions which will require students who, for example, are admitted because of exceptional skills in water polo to be approved by a minimum of three administrative staff.

UC Berkeley is investigating troubling claims a student’s paid someone else to take a college entrance exam that eventually helped admit him into school. Melissa Colorado reports.

The lawmakers' proposal to phase out the SAT and ACT may get more push back than others because the tests have been used nationwide for decades.

Those charged in the scheme used several ways to cheat on the test, including exploiting an exception for students with disability to gain more time on the test, paying for correct answers, paying for an official to correct the answers or simply paying someone else to take the test.

"We've known for years that the SAT can be gamed legally by the wealthy. There are huge advantages through the SAT prep industry, as well as document cultural biases. The truth is, for too often, these standardized tests devalue the academic potential of lower-income students," McCarty continued.

The lawmakers said they expect the proposals to be heard in committee after the Spring Recess.

The sprawling scandal involving rich parents who were paying big money for their children to get into elite colleges continues. Two Stanford students are leading a class action lawsuit, and a former Oakland teachers is seeking hundreds of billions of dollars. Sergio Quintana reports.
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