Monday, May 17, 2010

Public Education?

I'm climbing up on my soap box now. WHEW it's hard with these bad knees!

I've got a bone to pick with our local "public" schools.

The field trips, and class trips, and music trips are growing more extravagant and expensive with each passing year. Next year alone, the HS choir is going to DC at a price of over $500 per kid. The Honors English class is going to England. And the Spanish class is going to SPAIN for $thousands. In between that you throw in trips to nature centers, ball games, theatrical events, sports fees, drama fees, music fees, science fees etc. The kids are expected to raise money and go. Or get the $ from their parents or relatives. This is "enrichment" for these programs.

I say all "enrichment" offered by a public school should be equally available to ALL students regardless of their ability to pay. I just find these offerings morally reprehensible when only the kids with money can take advantage. My kids get fabulous grades, and are involved in plenty of activities, but they can't be "enriched" because we're broke.

Private schools? Don't care - charge away! Clubs? Travel all you want. Families? What you do with your own travel budget and time is none of my business. But when a public school sponsors and endorses trips that most middle to low income taxpayers can't swing, there's just something really wrong.

Also, why do HS kids need a trip to London or Spain? And why is it the school's job to organize that trip? And why do the people of this town have to be subjected to yet another magazine sale, or candy bar sale, or cookie dough sale to fund an ill-advised venture?


There are certain things we can't have because of our new economic picture. We can't get a car for them, we can't go to warm places during Spring Break, we can't get the latest fashions, etc. We accept this. But to have the public school, of all places, deny kids based on income goes against the principles of public education.

12 comments:

Shan said...

When I was their age, trips like that were for COLLEGE! And even then not that many people could afford to do it!

I think this belongs as a letter to the editor in the Northfield News. Just thinking about this practically makes me hyperventilate. We are also going to be one of those families who cannot afford that kind of extravagant "extra."

Also--in this economy????? SERIOUSLY???? It seems reprehensible to sponsor things like this, with these price tags, in the current economy when so many families are struggling just to pay the most basic of bills--yes, even in Northfield (as you and I know directly!).

Gah. Awful. Elitist, too. Sickening.

kirelimel said...

Public school needs a massive overhaul and a thrust into the modern world. These events help to perpetuate the old stratification of haves and have nots, popular vs. not.

I have too many "grrrrr" type thoughts to comment right now. Maybe I'll try and post something on my blog later.

SkylersDad said...

I couldn't agree with you more!

Missy said...

Frackin' a right! A letter to the editor is a great idea, or at least a letter to the school leadership to start. There must be a way to support all students or level the financial playing field.


I wrote the following and now I think maybe it is not a direct link but I kept it anyway:
I work a lot with very rural districts that are very poor. They do not have school counselors to help students plan and understand what to do with the education they are getting and the strapped teachers struggle to provide basic education (and hockey..but hockey is a must, right? :[). The talented students are left to fend for themselves.

Churlita said...

Hear hear! It costs about a thousand bucks just for my daughter to be in show choir after you count the fees and the hotel costs and everything else....And that's just one activity. Ugh.

Jeni said...

You've definitely got my vote on your thoughts about these various trips! The area where I live is one with not much to offer in the employment realm and what work there is, often is of the very low-paying variety too. Our school band is one that is quite good for a smallish (and economically strapped)school and as such, they have frequently been invited to Disney World to participate in the program there. Thankfully, that's the only big trip expenditure here and the kids do work at all kind of fund raising to get the money needed for them to go there without tapping the parents out completely. But other things that when I was a kid -back in the dark ages, I know -but where important to me and which my Mom somehow or other always managed to find the money for me to purchase a yearbook for every year I was in high school. I was able to do that for my kids too although the price then -15 to 25 years ago -was roughly double what my yearbooks had cost. My step-granddaughter will graduate next month and the costs of yearbooks here now is over $60 for one so she has been relegated to only getting the one for her senior year. I suppose to some folks shelling out $60 for a yearbook is a drop in the bucket but I know our family isn't the only one who just couldn't afford to spring that much money each year -from 7th grade thru 12th -for a memory book. When I was in school, we got donations from businesses all over the area to pay for the publishing costs and that kept the cost to each student down a lot, plus we had other ventures to that helped fund our yearbooks but the kids now, many of them, are unwilling to do any work to lower the fees too for things like this. I think the kids,as well as the schools, need to do a lot of re-thinking on how expensive public school things are today and try to find ways to do some cost controlling then.

taraj said...

What about that kid who doesn't sing well enough to be in choir. What about that kid who isn't smart enough to be in Honors English? The fact is we aren't all the same. Children need to learn this fact. Life is not fair, what a great opportunity to teach that lesson. I am sure your children are enriched each day just by living with you and your husband. Don't hurt other people just because your kids, unfortunately, can't participate in those activities.

Mommy Lisa said...

I agree...my step-daughters school sent them to Spain in EIGTH FREAKING GRADE!!!! Seriously? I was totally against it...and the bio-mom said that was because my family did not travel.

Ahem. WHAT??? I lived in NORWAY for nearly two years and traveled Europe from there thanks to kind friends and a eurorail pass.

And my parents go out of the country all the time! They EARNED it after all their hard work.

They need to put a stop to these stupid trips. NOW. I know from experience that all you really learn is how to run around the hotel and take pictures of your friends with "bunny ears". I went to DC and New Orleans with school. My mom said the New Orleans trip at the time cost more than our whole family going to MEXICO!

michaelg said...

I completely agree. A trip to Des Moines was a big deal when we were in school. A trip to London or Spain is ridiculous. If young people want to travel as part of their education, do it in college.
I'm with everyone else here too. Write that letter to the editor.

Liberality said...

You should send this to the school and as a letter to the editor for sure.

Sheleta said...

What happened to bake sales and car washes? And if one kid couldn't go then no kids went? That just ain't right. Cause it's not fair when one kid, who might be the best damned singer, sits out cause he doesn't have the spare money--while the worst singer in the group gets to make the trip to DC cause her daddy is a lawyer and is sitting on a stack of cash. At our old school if we couldn't raise enough money for all the kids to go then none of the kids went. That meant the lawyer dad kicked in an extra $100 bucks, they had auctions, raffles, bake sales--because the entire trip was on the line for everyone, and not just the poor kids (and that was usually me).

Dale said...

I love a good rant, especially when I completely agree with it.