By Lillian Mongeau
What are the school colors? Is the whole school free? What happens if you miss a class? Is there detention? How many books are there in the library?
These were just some of the questions eager Long Beach Unified School District 9- and 10-year-olds tossed during their Long Beach City College tour last spring.
Every fourth-grade student in Long Beach’s public schools attends a tour like this and all fifth-graders visit California State University, Long Beach, known as Long Beach State. The tours are just one example of the many ways the three biggest public-education systems in this working-class, seaside California city cooperate. Long Beach City College, Long Beach State, and the Long Beach Unified School District have cooperated for about two decades on initiatives like early college tours, targeted professional development for teachers, and college-admissions standards that favor local students.
The results have been so stunning that the city was cited by state lawmakers as a model last week when they unveiled a legislative package called the California College Promise. Were they to pass, the collection of bills would make several of Long Beach’s practices into state policy with the aim of seeing more California children to and through college.