Saturday, October 22, 2005

More On Illegal Fees

In this post I opened a discussion about illegal fees charged at my school--and not one person commented. Apparently it's not a big deal that a school, an arm of the government, openly defies the law and gets away with it. I'm shocked, dismayed, and discouraged.

Some claim that if we no longer charge the illegal fees, programs (band, art, shop, etc) will go away. Sure, that result justifies breaking the law!

Such thinking is very small-minded. There are several ways to raise money for such valuable programs. Here are a few:

1. Have the parents, through their elected school board, insist that the district fund the programs at a reasonable level. Yes, something will get cut, because there's a finite amount of money in the district. But if band is the least important thing the district is doing (and I don't believe it is), and there's not enough money to fund it, cut it.

2. Have fundraisers.

3. Have Art Boosters, Shop Boosters, and Band Boosters, in addition to Athletic Boosters.

4. Have the PTSA at each school kick in money to fund the program.

5. Solicit direct donations from parents rather than requiring them to pay, especially in classes that are required for graduation. In our district, a computer class and a year of visual or performing arts is required, and many of those classes charge fees.

6. Solicit corporate sponsorships. The FujiFilm Photo Lab, the Michael's (arts and crafts store) Art Gallery.

The problem with #2-6 is that they don't address the underlying problem--the school district isn't adequately funding the programs that are valuable to our students. They merely replace an illegal source of funding with a legal one. That's no small result, but the problem remains.

I also like the idea suggested in the first comment on this post. It has the advantage of requiring additional work only to set the program up.


Octavo Dia said...

And that's why the U.S. is number seventeen instead of first on the Corruption Perceptions Index.

Darren said...

No doubt.

Dan Edwards said...


YES, it is wrong and probably illegal for the school to charge such fees. BUT, is this YOUR fight? Or the Parents? Be careful. You don't want to end up like Cornwallis @ Yorktown.

Darren said...

Well, I'm not convinced that I shouldn't protect *all* students from illegalities thrust upon them by the school. One could argue that the oath I signed just a couple weeks ago, the one to renew my credential, the one that requires allegiance to the Constitution of the State of California, gives me a dog in this fight.

Besides, I'm not just a teacher, I'm also a district parent.

Darren said...

And wait a minute. PROBABLY illegal? No. Clearly.

Anonymous said...

I know that it's illegal, but removing any sort of program that requires a fee is sort of ridiculous. The law was made since school is something guaranteed to the public, but doing something like charging $35 in photo won't dig deep into anyone's pocketbook, and if it really does, the PTSA will apparently fund it.
However, charging $1,000 for cheerleading is a lot more than idiotic.

Having families donate would solve a lot of problems. Jesuit, for example, had two separate donations of $1 million dollars or something exorbitant like that just to rebuild their locker rooms. That's important! I'm sure that many familes can pay for it, seeing how some kids drive Cadillac and Mercedes SUV's.

Darren said...

Cameron, there are two very important points to make here.

1. It doesn't matter if *most* people at our school can afford to pay these fees. They're illegal, and we shouldn't be in the business of doing something illegal just because it's convenient.

2. If the fees are burdensome for just one person, then we've created a two-tiered education system, one for the "haves" and one for the "have-nots". That's not the way public school is designed to be. Jesuit is a private school--they can fund things however they want. As a minimum behavior, we should at least follow the law.

And as always, thanks for your comments!

Anonymous said...


I think you are right, it is wrong. And we ARE creating a system for the haves and the have-nots.

$1000 to be a cheerleader? That's robbery!

I think it's all like how our income tax structure works. You only screw over the few, just a little bit, but not so much as to get many complaints. That way, you can go about screwing them over and no one will do anything about it. It's only when it gets extremely unbearable that it will be changed.

As in the case of these "fees" - it won't stop unless something extreme happens. Otherwise, most people, who are not that affected by it, or simply don't care, won't do anything.

Shame, isn't it?

Darren said...

It's only a shame if you consider criminal acts to be merely shameful.

Anonymous said...

So are you having your source at our paper run the story finally?

Darren said...

That's not up to me. The newspaper staff has access to the information but apparently feel that t-shirts and homecoming floats are bigger news. I'm not going to force the issue on them, it's not my place. But it seems odd to me that someone hasn't picked the ball up and run with it. I mean, isn't it every high school reporter's dream to find a big story of something wrong at school, something even bigger than rats in the cafeteria?