Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Story That Makes Me Proud of California Law

I cannot imagine having to pay fees for school. Yes, my son's school tries to charge some fees, and I fight them every time--I even have an "illegal fees" category for blog posts!--but even his school doesn't go crazy like this one in Ohio does:
Karen Dombi was thrilled when her three oldest children were picked for student government this year—not because she envisioned careers in politics, but because it was one of the few programs at their public high school that didn’t charge kids to participate.
Either the government provides a free public education for all, or it doesn't. None of this "we'll provide a baseline, but you have to pay to run track or take Spanish" crap. All you socialists out there, you can't support this, can you? You can't support a two-tier education system, with one tier for the haves and one for the have-nots, can you? I'd like to think that this is an area on which we can find common ground.


mazenko said...

What? You're criticizing schools for not having enough money? Yet, you oppose any revenue increase? And you question when schools ask for extra fees to fund extra-curriculars? There has to be some inconsistency here.

Darren said...

No inconsistency. Try again.

mazenko said...

First, if schools need fees to fund basic services like books for core classes, the revenue is clearly too low. So raise it - a fee is just a tax.

Secondly, if those fees are for extra-curriculars, which don't affect all students, then it may not be a problem. If parents want extras like Model UN or literary magazine or helmets for football, maybe those should be funded by the individual parties, especially if they aren't part of the constitutional education mandates.

But, I'm actually with you on this. The schools should fund it completely. That's why I dislike the argument that vending machines and soda contracts and advertising in schools are a win-win by providing needed funding. State constitutions mandate the education be funded through taxes. And if they are short and need more funding - it should come from the constitutional way of taxes - not marketing high fructose corn syrup to sedentary children.

Ellen K said...

Darren, here's where I differ. I think if students and their parents want to participate in an activity that a fee is required. Now that could be waived for economic need, but if we expect band kids to pay for uniform and instrument rental and theater students for equipment and color guard for equipment and athletes for equipment then those who care to make the economic investment are the only ones who have to pay. I don't like the idea of having to pay for kids to run track or go to national Latin conventions. If they want to participate, they need to do the fundraising or pay a fee to do so. As for the fees charged for classes, in many cases those fees cover basic materials that in the past would be bought by the parents. Now, less than half the kids have even a pencil when they show up to class and the expectation that all materials will be magically produced by the teachers. With reductions in budgets, and increasing enrollments, that just isn't going to happen.

Doug said...

Items within the curriculum should be paid for by taxes. No fees for art, photo, spanish and the like. Extra curricular's CAN be if you are lucky enough to be in a district that has planned well. But to say that ALL school related activities should be paid for by taxes I disagree.
But to what extreme? Should cheerleaders be forced to pay $3000 each for uniforms to be a member of a school squad? Should band kids be required to pay $2500 each for their competitions, uniforms, busses and music? All while the Football, Basketball and Baseball teams all get new uniforms every 3rd year, and the gymnasium gets a new scoreboard, all paid for by the school? I think players in said teams should carry the load a little - require them to at least pay for anything that they will be keeping - our school calls it a "Spirit Pack" which includes t-shirts, socks, belts, hats, etc. and possibly a small transportation fee.
Yet at the same time, I agree with Darren that if the schools are going to offer it, it should be funded. However, as a teacher AND taxpayer, I don't want to see an increase in taxes (or fees, or whatever) at the same time as the union (of which I am not a member) is negotiating a pay cut through furlough days. Somewhere there is a middle ground and I don't know where it is.

Anonymous said...

In Ohio, the funding mechanism for schools (a heavy reliance on property taxes) has been found unconstitutional at least 3 different times. The state government refuses to consider doing something about it...So communities with a large corporate tax base have schools that are Taj Mahals, urban schools get a huge influx of tax money to "level the playing field" and rural schools are left out of the mix. Taxpayers in Ohio are fed up with local school tax levies every 2-3 years. Fees become a necessary evil if schools are going to have certain programs. No one likes the system and it is something that we hope the legislature will eventually abide by the Suprmem Court rulings and do something about it. Yea, like real reform can ever take place by government. In the meantime, our students are the ones being short-changed. Teacher Unions are killing local school districts and local districts hands are tied. The Governor is trying to take steps to change the culture here, nut the Unions have a stranglehold on the media in Ohio.