NOTE: Kelsey is a student in the Portland State University Capstone titled “Enhancing Youth Literacy.” This summer, she supported Upward Bound staff and students in nutrition and literature courses. She has already made a plan to continue her work with Upward Bound in the fall! Her questions on families having to pay for public education are extremely relevant to local discussions on limited access to free day-long kindergarten programs and school budgets that are so tight that teachers and families have to bring basic supplies to class that should be provided (paper for photocopying, for example). Read Kelsey’s words here:
In elementary school, my school always asked families to pay for bits and pieces of our education throughout the school year. Between field trips, extra books, transportation, and school gear, we ended up paying a large amount. I was lucky enough to have parents who could handle the extra costs, but for families already struggling to get by this can be a huge source of stress. Schools argue that the funding isn’t coming from elsewhere, so families should contribute. We have a right to a free, public education. Should K-12 schools be allowed to charge students for some of these ‘extras’ to make up for budget deficits?
The ACLU says no, and has filed a lawsuit against the state of California. Parents are coming out and telling horror stories of amounts contributed, teachers who denounce children whose families are unable to pay, and students falling behind because of the inability to pay for textbooks. Educational inequity is rampant in California, and the expectation that families contribute financially is increasing the gap.
What are your thoughts? Have you experienced having to pay for K-12? What about the students you were working with in your capstone placement? What do you think will come of the ACLU lawsuit?