OK, now I’m just mad

A reader tipped me off to this, from the September 10th issue of the NY Times.

Public schools across the nation, many facing budget shortfalls, have been charging students fees to use textbooks or to take required tests or courses.

Now a civil liberties group is suing California over those proliferating fees, arguing that the state has failed to protect the right to a free public education. […]

“What’s new here is that this is not about funding levels for education, but about whether districts are charging kids to get a public education,” Mr. Griffith [a school finance analyst at the Education Commission of the States] said. “That’s a brand-new argument.” […]

Permissible charges [in San Diego] include those for […] art materials if students take home what they make.

Nice. Feel free to express yourself artistically using these supplies. Go on, put your heart and soul into it. But take a thing home and you gotta pay. Oh, and while your wallet is open, pay for those textbooks and mandatory courses and exams too.

I get it. Education ain’t cheap. Schools need the money and taxpayers are not ponying up. Or, they are ponying up and health care costs are eating all the extra pony hooves and whatnot. Either way, we gotta get straight on the goal here. Is there to be free, public education in this country or not? If so, I’m sorry then it has got to be just that, free (by which I mean full taxpayer funding for public schools, in whatever fashion school districts and states choose to organize them and allocate the funding). If not, let’s have a dialog to work out how to deal with those without the means to cough up more ponies.

Nickel-and-diming our kids and their families sends a terrible message, one that young children can’t understand. If my child couldn’t participate in some activities–and particularly art–because we lacked the means for the fee, she’d be absolutely crushed. Even though we could likely afford it, if my school district tried this gambit my head would explode with rage.

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