Public School is Far from Free--Especially for Parents
On a local listserv for parents of 4-year-olds born in August or September, discussions recently became heated when one mother of three said it was tempting to send her eldest to kindergarten just as he was turning 5--many parents in my town send their fall-birthday kids to kindergarten the year they turn 6--so that she could have "free daycare." A kindergarten teacher on the list pointed out that schools are not free--they're supported by taxpayers--and costs to taxpayers escalate when children, especially boys, are sent to school too young and end up needing special attention and services. Of course, parents of school-age kids (public, private, or homeschool) get dinged twice--as taxpayers first, and again when they're asked to pay for supplies, classes, and services that used to be provided, at public schools at least, at no additional cost to students' families.
On Monday, Sally Arguilez Smith of San Diego News Network highlighted "the hidden costs of a free public education." She details some of the items for which parents are asked to pay:
Pencils, notebook paper, crayons. Basic school supplies have become standard purchases for parents at the beginning of each school year.
At the high school level, these fees can jump to thousands of dollars, when athletics and other extracurricular activities are factored in. With job losses and the recession continuing to affect families, these educational costs brought to the forefront California laws guaranteeing the people’s constitutional right to a free public education - laws of which many parents may be ignorant.
Leslie Madsen-Brooks develops learning experiences for K-12, university, and museum clients. She blogs at The Clutter Museum, Museum Blogging, and The Multicultural Toybox and is the founder of Eager Mondays, a consultancy providing unconventional professional development.