I just read an article in today’s (5-25-11) Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that every tax payer in America should read; “Public Schools Charge Kids for Basics, Frills” by Stephanie Simon. I personally have some problems with every fact exposed, but I find some refreshing ways to even the burden on what I feel are pure frills. The facts I use are quoted from this article.
Fact; “After adjusting for inflation, average spending per pupil has increased 44% over the past two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Education.” The WSJ article states; “The average salary for a public school teacher nationally has jumped 26% since 2001, though that growth didn’t quite keep pace with inflation.”
For the past few weeks I have posted many articles about education and it appears that Public Schools across America are facing significant reductions in state funding for education. Increasing personnel costs and lower tax revenues are shifting costs to students and their parents by new and increased fees in several parts of the country.
Some public schools have charged for extras such as driver’s education and field trips. Many school districts are now charging for supplies needed to take core classes. In some schools each class has a price tag. One interesting area that should get some specific attention is the costs of sports and other non-core education subjects like band, debate, drama, arts etc.
Some examples extracted from the WSJ article; Fees in Medina, Ohio of $200 for Band, $200 for Concert Choir, $50 to act in a school play and $660 to participate in a high school sport; A 52% increase this year in the Blue Valley ISD in Overland Park Kansas for enrollment and supplies that are typically $235; Next year the Wheaton (Illinois) North High School will charge $221 for baseline registration, $150 for each sport and class fees as much as $50 each. In addition Medina charges $75 for generic school fees, $118.50 for materials used in Biology, physics and other academic courses and $263 for Advanced Placement Exams. Other non-core cost examples included in the article were parking, struggling readers, advanced math, foreign languages and Chess Club.
All American children should receive a tax supported core public education that I had many years ago. The general public seems to agree that this is an American value. Each state has a constitutional requirement to educate our children, but it appears that the variables are significant from state to state. Each state should define “suitable” or “adequate” education that is to be funded with public money. If you feel that charging special fees like the examples included, then contact your State Representative or Senator.
I urge my state, Texas, to call a special legislative session, to define the tax payer’s education responsibilities. They should also force smaller school districts to consolidate. 1265 different school districts is an irresponsible legislative oversight to control spending. School boards refuse to consolidate because they are forced to give up sport nicknames such as “Bulldogs”, etc. This is as asinine as the ego trip for some to attain power of serving on a School Board. If a local school district desires extra benefits involving sports, academic enhancements, clubs etc., let them fund it with local tax increases.
It is time for the people to stand up and force the legislatures to do their job with fiscal responsibility. We have 254 counties and only two have County School Superintendents, Dallas and Harris counties, why? The State of Texas “IS” responsible for every child to receive the same educational opportunity. When will the Governor and Legislature stop blaming the local school boards and make sure all Texas children have equal and adequate opportunities?
If you agree then pass this around, I would appreciate your comments.