At the end of this post, I gave you a teaser about a certain section of California's education code. Instead of raging against the machine, perhaps I should go with the flow! Since we're not getting raises in my school district next year, not even cost of living increases, I started thinking about how I could increase my cash flow.
At my school, we illegally charge fees for certain classes, usually elective classes. I've asked for and received bulletins from the state Department of Education on the practice and it's very clear we're in violation of ed code and the California Constitution. Why do we do this? Because we always have! It doesn't matter that every school and district in California that's been sued over this in the past few years has lost. We have "margin of excellence" programs that we want to keep, and this is how we keep them.
In fairness to my principal, he acknowledges the problem and is taking a moderated course to solving this so as not to unnecessarily gut programs or anger teachers or parents of students in the courses. Additionally, while our actions are clearly illegal, it's a relatively small issue since the only person complaining about it is me!
My reasons for fighting this battle are clear. First off, we should obey the law; if we don't like the law we should work to change it but we shouldn't disregard it. It's odd that we expect students to follow our rules while we ourselves flaunt the law. Second, these fees create a stratified education system--one for the haves, one for the have-nots. The first time a student doesn't take a class or join a sports/cheerleading team because they can't afford the fee, we've created a 2nd class student. This is morally wrong and not even legal.
But we do it anyway. So perhaps I should climb on board this gravy train, especially in these tough economic times. Here's my plan:
Next year, I'm going to charge students to take tests and quizzes. I figure 50 cents per quiz, $1.00 per test. I give quizzes once a week. Given our new contract allows close to 180 students per day, I'll make $90 a week when I give quizzes and $180 a week when I give tests! And if I start giving random pop quizzes, I can charge a dime for those. Now, students won't be required to pay the quiz/test fee. But if they don't pay, they won't get to take the quiz/test.
I should also charge a correcting fee. Since grading is extra work done outside of school hours, students who actually want the points will have to pay to have their quiz/test graded. This fee might also be as little as a dime.
I could save some of my own time if I subcontracted the writing of the test/quiz. I think I'll select a brilliant student whom I know will write good problems, and pay that student a small fee to write my tests/quizzes for me. Of course, this student can get in on the system, too! This student could sell advance copies of the test/quiz to students at a market-determined rate, or perhaps could just sell copies of the answer key. With this system I do less work, one deserving student makes some cash, and students who can afford it will get great grades! It's a win-win-win situation! And don't think that poor kids are left out--they will still get the basics (the test itself, if they pay the test fee) but not any leg up. Kinda like what they get now. So they're no worse off.
This type of out-of-the-box thinking is just what is needed in these tough (at least for our school district) economic times.