School fees illegal?? Could it be?? Schools & Kids, posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm
ACLU Sues California Over School Fees
Written by CA Political News on September 12, 2010, 11:34 AM
ACLU Sues California Over School Fees
by Emily Alpert, vocieofsandiego.org, 9/10/10
The battle over illegal school fees is going to court: The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is suing California for failing to protect the right to a free public education because schools across the state have routinely charged fees for textbooks, tests, gym uniforms and other school necessities. The New York Times reports on the lawsuit, quoting Sally Smith, the San Diego parent who has spoken out most vociferously about the fees, and highlighting the problems that have persisted here:
In San Diego, one of the cities whose school system is cited in the suit, a grand jury investigated similar reports this year and concluded that the fees were prohibited under California law. Nonetheless, the grand jury said in a June report, "Student fees are charged in almost all district schools."
It listed examples: $1,833 for the cheerleading program at one San Diego high school, $180 for water polo at another high school and $400 for the wrestling program at a third school.
Mark Bresee, the general counsel for San Diego Unified School District, said in an interview that after some parents complained about the fees last year, he looked into it and concluded that some schools were indeed assessing improper charges. Mr. Bresee said he has tried to clarify the rules for the district's 180 schools.
He acknowledged that even now, some school Web sites that have not been kept up to date may suggest that students are required to pay fees impermissible under state law.
Good that they're suing the State and not individual districts over this matter. The big deal in this lawsuit is the idea that giving waivers on these fees to those who cannot pay does not provide remedy for the fact that requiring any student to pay constitutes no longer providing "free" education. Providing fee waivers is the way most districts have been trying to comply with the law. If this lawsuit is successful, districts won't be able to do even that anymore. The lawsuit brief is linked to in the website I reference above. One example in it of charging a fee for courses is requiring students to purchase PE uniforms.
Posted by Geez, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 12, 2010 at 7:36 pm
I do not know about other districts, but in Pleasanton what is asked for is a donation to cover the cost of say PE clothes is a donation. If you do not pay you still receive the PE clothes. Students are not denied PE clothes, workbooks, field trips, etc... if they cannot pay. Fees for testing such as AP tests and SATs go to College Board and neither of those tests is required to graduate. There is no fee for taking the Exit Exam which is required to graduate.
Posted by I was waiting for this to happen, a resident of the Ruby Hill neighborhood, on Sep 12, 2010 at 8:56 pm
I've been a teacher for 12 years and have been waiting for this lawsuit to happen. Teachers/schools need the money from parents in order to have a successful year and to make up for the lack of funding from the state. However, public education in this country was meant to be free, and we've gotten away from this idea.
I spoke to my grandmother about this the other day and when she went to school pens, pencils, and paper were provided to all students. She said her family didn't need to pay for anything. On the other hand, women could not play organized sports at her school as well.
Posted by Pat, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:48 am
I guess that for eight years, millions that used to be spent in classrooms for supplies for childrens was siphoned off for administration trips, junkets and conferences.
Prior to Mary Frances Callan leaving the District in 2002, Pleasanton Unified spent the state average on supplies or higher, but once JC took over, Pleasanton Unified reduced its classroom spending levels to way below the state average.
The ACLU website cites PUSD and illegal fees it is charging at Foothill High in its report "Pay to Learn."
Posted by Sally, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:33 am
I have NEVER understood that gym clothes were a suggested DONATION. If that is the case, they are doing a VERY bad job at letting people know that. I pay HUNDREDS of dollars every year for my kids FREE education. This is craziness!!
Posted by Common sense, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:51 am
Many of the fees are for optional activities, whch are not required to be educated nor to graduate. Sports are nice to have, but not required. Those who participate should not burden others with the costs. Dances are great social experiences but not required.
The lawsuit talked about charging students for books. If the book is required, then the charge is wrong. If there is a book available, but you cannot write/highlight in it, then you must do what everyother student does with their books - read them, without marking them up.
Posted by SteveP, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:55 am SteveP is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
From the article: "It listed examples: $1,833 for the cheerleading program at one San Diego high school, $180 for water polo at another high school and $400 for the wrestling program at a third school."
The wrestling charges certainly apply to Foothill specifically. The past 2 years (at least) they have been charging what they refer to as 'fair share' fees for sports. Wrestling is $30 for the season----some other sports (like football) are even more.
If nothing else, at least this ACLU may occupy their resources and delay them from focusing on defending terrorists or removing crosses from cemetaries.
Posted by What is education?, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:55 am
What is education?
Why does the school require a PE uniform v. the appropriate t-shirt and shorts? That is the school's decision.
On the other hand, after school activities are not required on the part of a school. It's a nice extra. If parents didn't help pay for music, drama, sports, and other groups, the school would cut them as part of their budget slashing.
I feel that the $800 average I paid a year for high school marching band was worth it to keep the program alive and operating. The district certainly will not pay for the coaching staff, buses, hotels for distant final competition locations, uniforms (yes! the parents raised the money to pay for the new uniform jackets this year), new instruments, etc.
Yearbooks are extra, school pictures are extra, SAT exams are extra, etc.
In all the years of my kids going through PUSD, I did not feel like I was required to pay for any class items unless I elected to pay.
Posted by jaycee, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:58 am
HA! Donation for PE clothes? I don't think so. August school registration has become only second to Christmas as far as money out the door! I understand we need to supplement with all that has been cut but it's getting more and more excessive every year. And let's not forget about picture day! Whatever happened to reaasonably priced packages?? Maybe we could pass a parcel tax if that meant considerably reducing all the other "donations" we're making.
Posted by Maja7, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 9:37 am
Like Dominic, I, too am astonished that the ACLU is finally doing something that I can get behind. Unfortunately, because of the current economic free-fall California is in, the State doesn't have the money right now to pay. So the schools exercise the option of asking parents to supplement their budgets; which by the way, they've been doing for as long as I've had kids in school (13 years now).
This is the first time of having children in school that we are unable to pay the per child 'suggested' donation. I feel immense guilt but we just don't have the money due to circumstances. But there are still the classroom donations, costs of workbooks, etc. to alleviate my guilt. Plus, all the fundraisers which have already begun....Good Luck to the ACLU in this endeavor. I'm thinking though that it may not be a benefit if they 'win' just somehow further damage our current educational system by making it so the schools can't request/ask for any donations. And in the end, our children will be the ones that suffer from it, again.
Posted by Funding Parent, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 9:59 am
My FHS student came home last week asking for money for a workbook. The message she delivered from school was that if we didn't pay for the workbook, she would have to download it from online and print it out. The clear message: either way, I would pay.
A 'donation' to cover the PE clothes expense? LOL!!! At HMS, they used the standard line that "scholarships were available" but never indicated that for the rest of us it was a donation. At least at the high school has a sliver of common sense and allows the kids to wear appropriate clothes vs. a uniform.
I don't have any issues funding optional activities, but wish the school/district would use some of that 'character' they like to waive about and be honest/have a little integrity when "requesting" parent funding. I noted the fair share memo on FHS athletics website still doesn't say it's an optional expense and instead implies it's mandatory.
Posted by Just a Parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:14 am
We have always done our part to help our respective schools, financially and by donating supplies and our time even in these difficult financial times. We've always supported our teachers because we've been lucky and had some of the best. However, when the C.O.R.E. fundraiser started, we felt hounded and badgered into giving $$ we simply didn't have.
Our school was keeping track of those who donated and those who didn't, and somehow that information was provided to the parent volunteers during the "drop and donate" days. I was constantly reminded, by parents, to bring in my donation because the school records showed I hadn't paid yet. These were parents and people I thought were my friends. I finally broke down and gave a small donation but not the suggested $150/child, and I was still "stalked" about giving more $$. I was told that this was "agressive donation collecting", that other school districts are successful with this technique (specifically San Ramon).
I was very happy to read about the ACLU lawsuit in the paper this weekend, hopefully it'll bring about a small change in the way school districts request "donations".
Posted by KC, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:56 am
this year was the FIRST time that I didn't buy new p.e. clothes, didn't join PTSA, didn't give a donation for technology, classroom funding, etc etc etc. NO ONE had ever told me any of these things were VOLUNTARY. I have been giving and giving and giving all these years and this year I just could not do it like I have in the past due to the economic situation. But the ladies working at the school were not pleasant about it. They were rude and acted like I was committing a crime since I didn't fork out the dough this year. I AM DONE with helping so much. I will help my own child where I can and try to save money for that child to go to college. The schools are out of control and ridiculous. No more giving and no more donations from this mom.
Posted by reasonable, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 11:16 am
PMS always indicated that the PE clothes were a donation. This year we re-used last year's to save money (that is an option! You don't need to buy new every year!!) and for the first time (like the post above) I didn't join the PTA and didn't make the suggested donation. No one was unpleasant to me, as I conveniently skipped the PTA table (it is not required that you stop there -- they just make it look like it's required).
As for charging for sports, band, etc.... yes these are optional activities but these fees should also be a donation. Here's why: Ideally EVERY kid should take part in at least one extra curricular activity. Oftentimes it's those who come home to the empty house (because everyone is working to make ends meet) or those whose families can't afford enrichment and vacations, etc. that really need the sports and music programs at school to expand their horizons. It is sad that those are the very kids whom these fees are keeping out. Of course they can ask for a scholarship, but that takes a lot of guts to admit you can't pay your own kids' way. Much more likely the parents will just say no.
Posted by A Mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 11:51 am
First - I always have know the law that you don't have to pay for anything at the schools. All any parent had to do was go to administration and tell them they aren't paying for whatever fee.
2. All PE classes at HPMS and AVHS have allowed my kids to wear non-PE clothes - HPMS "grey t-shirt & blue shorts".
3. For the parents at FHS with the workbook....the school (read teacher) HAS to provide you with access to a computer/printer to print out the material. We've already had a discussion with a teacher who only puts homework up on their website...our 1 computer crashed, and the school library closes at 3 pm.....The teacher HAS to put the homework on the site in time for my son to go to the library at Lunchtime to access the homework.
4. Any non-essential education is not free: ie: wrestling or cheerleading, laptop program, band etc. But the basic program is protected by law.
The issue here isn't the fees...the issue here is Parents not knowing the law. Part of responsible citizenship is knowing your rights and the law and advocating for them. Governement will ALWAYS try to encroach upon our civil liberties. If you can't afford "back to school" equipement the school HAS to provide it. You as a parent, just have to be willing to advocate for the free education due to your student and be willing to fight.
BTW- as a PTSA volunteer, I have never commented on someone not joining PTA, except to point out what it does for the teachers and that you get a directory. We were not able to donate the $150 this year....but I've been volunteering my time where I can, in lieu of it. It was wrong of those volunteers to hound you on that donatation.
Posted by Pat, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 12:18 pm
The school district (Pleasanton) is illegally requiring children to buy textbooks and workbooks on their school-sponsored websites, they aren't listed as "donations" on the websites, and teachers are saying in writing on their websites if the children don't buy them, they have to go to the library and check one out instead. Or they are forcing the kids to shell out money (in this case $18 each) to purchase a workbook. Check out this Spanish class at Hart taught by Ms. Newman. where an the school website, the teacher clearly states the kids have to pay the teacher for books:
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the Apperson Ridge neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm
It looks like the teacher clearly states that the purchasing of the workbook is optional and that it's available for free in the library. What's the problem with that? I would buy it just for convenience if my child was taking her class. I think it's time you people stop whining and go find a job or something more productive to do.
Posted by Worried, a resident of the Heritage Oaks neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm
I thought that if I read far enough that I would find someone suggesting again that a parcel tax will solve all of the schools problems. Why is it that whenever the schools need more money they look to the property (parcel) owners in our town? Like we all have deep pockets. Why not charge a tax just on the parents who are currently using the schools? This would equitably allow the residents who are using our schools to pay for them, including renters. If a family should happen to own a rental property here besides their own home they would be taxed twice under a parcel tax. Is that fair? The reason proposition 13 was passed twenty years ago was that whenever anyone in the state needed money they said "let the property owner pay". Seniors, or anyone on a fixed income, were being forced out (taxed out)of their homes. That's what another local parcel tax would do. There has to be another solution. Perhaps the time for a "free" education in the state has come to an end. Is there a way to charge tuition (or some other name) for the shortage? Has the school board looked into this or some other approach? They need to get creative and not just turn to the property owner every time there is a perceived need without looking at other options. If this lawsuit is successful where everything at the schools has to be "free" they will undoubtedly drop all of these extracurricular "extras" rather than fund them.
Perhaps the district should drop ALL of the State mandated requirements unless the State is actually paying or funding them.
Who knows? I am looking at creative ideas from anyone rather than the easy way out of always trying another parcel tax.
Posted by A Mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm
@ Jerry - are you offering us jobs! Great! I've been looking for one for 18 months....by the way I need off at 2:30 and a lot of emergency days off because my child has special needs and medical issues....I also can't start until after 9:30 on Wednesdays - late start you know for the middle & elementary schools - and there's no special needs busing to my home school. Oh and I'll need all these flexs days off that there's no school on, because the State can't pay the school district to pay the teachers.
I know you'll appreciate the 15 years I've been out of the work force, since I'm a mom of 3 and know how to juggle a tight budget, fix toilets, do laundry, and deal with various plumbers, electricians etc on hold while cleaning up after a kid with the flu, clean house, do ER triage, and have expert hands on training in child development.
Thanks for the offer.
BTW - my son is using a "check out of the library" workbook this year ($18 feeds my family for 2 days). He's had no problems.
Posted by Productive Mom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm
To "mom" and "resident mom",
Maybe develop a skill that someone wants to pay you to do. Learn computer programming. You've got an internet connection. You live next to Silicon Valley. Yes, real estate and construction are hurting now. Do something else.
Posted by Productive Mom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm
" were being forced out (taxed out)of their homes."
They were selling their homes moving, and it was 32 years ago, not 20. Google "Warren Buffet Prop 13" to get started reading about the problems with it. Reforming prop 13 would go a long way in shoring up our education system in California.
"That's what another local parcel tax would do."
Ridiculous, there are always exemptions for seniors.
" Is there a way to charge tuition (or some other name) for the shortage?"
Tuition free schools have been in the California constitution for over 100 years. We are no longer a family farm based economy. We cannot afford to have an illiterate population.
Posted by Marnette Federis, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:34 pm
Patch wrote about this awhile back, when the ACLU first fired off a warning letter to San Diego's school district (Parents Shell Out More for Sports and PUSD To Clarify Sports Packages Sold Online Include Optional Fees...We also took a look at how PUSD fees compare to nearby district, SRVUSD). I think the issue is centered around making sure that parents know that these fees are optional and that they have options if they can't afford it. I think this is an issue that will continue as district budgets dwindle.
Posted by A Mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm
@ Productive Mom -
How many visits to ER have you done in the last month? I've done 3, plus 3 stays at Children's with a medically fragile child. She has therapy during school hours and I have a "professional" husband that travels the world 3 weeks a month. Are you going to do child care for my children for free while I go out and sell real estate. I grew up with parents in real estate....to do well at it it is a 24/7 job. It is NOT a part-time job to do with little children. I AM also a PRODUCTIVE MOM. I am supporting my husband and family by balancing a budget, teaching community involvement and advocacy skills and caring for a medically fragile child. On an average month I am at Childrens Hospital 3 times, Lucille Packard 2 times and UCSF once.....not to count the appointments closer to home, besides raising 2 other children and spending hours upon hours on the phone dealing with medical insurance, therapists and equipement procurments. Oh, yeah, I volunteer in the classrooms and for the school that other "productive working outside the home for someone else" can't do. Everyone's life is different, just because I don't work outside the house for MONEY doesn't mean I'm (or any other stay at home mom is) NOT PRODUCTIVE! We servive just fine without help from the district....but we don't waste money on unnecessary items either. If parents have an issue with fees - talk to the administrator's - they are all voluntary and you cannot be forced to pay.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:48 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
This lawsuit, in my mind, goes hand in hand with the earlier Robles-Wong v. California lawsuit. The State sets educational goals and then does not align funding with those goals. It has lead to money going all over the place instead of where it is needed. It leads to communities passing parcel taxes, teachers dipping into their own finances, parents and organizations purchasing supplies, and districts creating fees in an effort to band-aid over what the State fails to be responsible for.
Posted by Pat, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm
Thanks for the Pleasanton Patch keeping on top of this. I am going to read the Pleasanton Patch daily now since you seem to be on top of the news stories. The Pleasanton Patch seems to be far ahead of the Pleasanton Weekly on this. Thanks for excellent reporting, Pleasanton Patch.
This "Fair Share" program that Myla Grasso came up with is completely illegal. Here are the Pleasanton Patch news stories on this.
"Guidelines for District Staff and Parents Regarding Student Fees, Donations and Fundraising"
"Charges for standardized physical education attire of a particular color and design, but the school may not mandate that the attire be purchased from the school and no physical education grade of a student may be impacted based on the failure to wear standardized apparel “arising from circumstances beyond the control” of the student. (Education Code § 49066)."
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
School districts, schools, programs and classes can and do seek and accept donations of funds and property, and this practice is permissible as long as it is truly voluntary and in no way a prerequisite to participation in the program or activity. Therefore, any statement or explanation related to a donation that could lead a reasonable person to believe the donation may not be truly voluntary is to be avoided. Examples include but are not limited to a specified minimum amount of a donation, a date by which a donation is due, a lesser donation amount if funds are received prior to a certain date."
Posted by reasonable, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 2:25 pm
to Mom -
It does sound like you have your hands full parenting your children and taking care of the household so as to enable your husband to work and travel without worrying about the household. I was in those shoes for many years and it is indeed a full time job. No, I never had a medically fragile child and would never imply that was the same thing.
However, like "productive mom" I'm now also a full time breadwinner. While I miss being home full time I really resent the implication that I free-load off the volunteer work of the SAHMs! I put in more than my share of classroom volunteer and PTA time during the years when I WAS at home, and even now that I have a 50+ hr work week, I volunteer in 2 school programs, help lead a scout troop, bring in home-baked goodies for the cake walk and use vacation days to drive on field trips... AND I still have to cook, clean, garden, take kids to doctors, cars to the shop and pets to the vet.
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm
I once commented that other states use property taxes to fund schools, and a Pleasanton resident said that creates unequal funding in public schools. California wants to be fair, it seemed. I fell for that until I spent time at a school in a low income neighborhood in San Jose recently. Their P.E. Field was unusable because it's not maintained, and the lower elementary grade students don't have a P.E. teacher, among other problems. So, so much for that theory.
Posted by unclehomerr.., a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 3:01 pm
To 'worried'!! You nailed it, kid. It's all about parcel taxes.
jaycee mentioned it before you...
"Maybe we could pass a parcel tax if that meant considerably reducing all the other "donations" we're making."
They're gonna grind us down.. take away/cut programs and activities.. charge fees and coerce 'donations' - all rather than cut expenses to match income.. set a little aside for a rainy day and live within their means [need I say like I have to?].
Absent that... they'll probably pay $30k or so for a parcel tax feasibility study. What?? They've already done that?? Oh, nevermind. We're doomed!
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 4:58 pm
"Check out this Spanish class at Hart taught by Ms. Newman. where an the school website, the teacher clearly states the kids have to pay the teacher for books"
I don't see where it is required that you pay. The document gives you the option to make the donation or not.
We had something similar at Harvest Park, and it was clearly stated that if we could not afford the donation, our student WOULD STILL RECEIVE the workbook. We made the donation because we understand the budget deficit the schools are under, but we NEVER felt obligated to do so.
Posted by Old Band Mom, a resident of the Vineyard Avenue neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 6:10 pm
I am interested to see teachers happy with this lawsuit. If we hadn't had this workbook, PE clothes fundraising going on there wouldn't have been as much money available in the past for raises. If the suit is successful it will be very interesting to see what happens.
I too had a kiddo in the Amador Marching Band once upon a time, an although I feel it was a fantastic opportunity for my son I was ALWAYS annoyed when paying the yearly dues. First of all it is a graded class. What other graded classes require so much parent $$$? All the district paid for was the teacher and the facility-everything else was provided by the parents-even sheet music. Ceramics and other art classes are also elective but the district covers the kiln and most other supplies.
And worse yet, when a student couldn't afford the fees, and the district by law was not able to keep the kid out, they simply asked the band boosters (other parents) to fund the scholarship. That REALLY got me. The district should have covered that expense NOT the other parents since by law they are supposed to. The sheep that ran the boosters just gave in year after year on on and on it went.
Posted by still better than a parcel tax, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm
I have no problem paying for extra-curriculars or class materials *MY* kid is using. Obviously funds are tight, and I don't think John Q. Taxpayer should be on the hook to fund Suzie's marching band activity or Bobby's spot on the football team. These things are *optional* if you don't like paying, tell your kid NO. A $17 workbook fee is completely reasonable and I think it is my responsibility as a parent to pay for it (foreign language is an elective!) - I don't want teachers to have to go out of pocket because a parent is too cheap to pay - that's not right either!
Posted by SchoolParent, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 6:56 pm
so why do we have to "donate" paper, checks for PE clothes, "supplies", etc but then you hear about the charter school in Livermore that---not only do the students not have to pay or donate, but get a PC for free?
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:04 pm
"I conveniently skipped the PTA table (it is not required that you stop there -- they just make it look like it's required)."
Like many this was the first time ever that we simply did not have the funds for PTA or ANY other DONATIONS...
At Hearst Elementary one could NOT register and get the child's classroom assignment without the filled out PTA forms. The ladies behind the table in their tennis skirts were like used car salesman and even whispered to one another after I declined to sign up and dish out a check.
We also took advantage of a partial "scholarship" for our childes REQUIRED class room supplies. Somehow word got out about that!
SO, having paid multi thousands in federal and state taxes over the years, that wont even cover a pencil and eraser apparently?
Posted by parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:25 am
Re. the comment about Hearst. I was there and registered with the PTA, but plenty of people walked by this stand when I was there and there was no need to have this form to get a class assignment. No one gave anyone strange looks when I went there - it was too busy for anyone to notice to be honest. Seems like a totally different experience. I didn't feel any pressure at all, in fact completely the reverse. I heard someone ask if they had to wait for the PTA table to be free and people there said no, just go straight to the desk to get the room assignment.
Posted by What the Heck, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:25 am
The final word on it all...the law clearly states that families are not required to pay for ANYTHING at the public school except for things that students actually take home and keep. Extra-Curricular activities have been deemed part of the educational experience, and schools should fund it all. That workbook for the elective language class...school must pay. That marching band program...school must pay. That football program...school must pay.
Someone had it right earlier, yes...the school must pay, but if it is left up to that, you'll see the programs and elective classes disappear faster than you can ever imagine. It's all a function of the funding system California now uses for public schools. The demise of public school funding was prop 13. There's a great documentary called "First to Worst" that highlights California's golden years of educational finance and superiority up to now where we are one of the last in the country for funding and student achievement. Sad but true.
So...is it right that families should be sharing the burden financially...heck no. Should the schools be better about making sure families know that these are "donations?" YES.
The ultimate question must be...do we want these extra-curricular programs to continue. If the answer is yes, families will need to continue donating for their "fair share." If the answer is no, then stop paying...I garuntee you that you will see all of the extra activities disappear before your eyes. My opinion...you want your kid involved in the extra currucular activities...pay up...set up a payment plan if you can't afford it, but pay up or watch your program die.
Now...talking instructional materials...teachers have definately gone bonkers on this one. You should definately revolt over this one. I have one teacher who asked my kid to bring 10 dry-erase markers to them as part of the classroom supply list. All 26 kids are going to bring 10 dry-erase markers....really? What is a teacher going to do with 260 dry erase markers? Not to mention the fact that these materials need to be, and WILL be provided by the district. You SHOULD be revolting if teachers are asking you to pay for workbooks, text books, paper, glue, classroom supplies. That is ridiculous. I would be willing to bet you that many teachers have a secret stash of supplies that would last them several years. Don't be duped into thinking that you have to provide these things. If a teacher requests these things, refuse. If you or your student are treated inappropriately, or are made to feel embarrased for not providing these materials...tell the principal...If that doesn't get you anywhere, go to the district office and talk to someone there. You'll get results.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:43 am
SInce when has it been ok to come to school not prepared with your own pencil and paper? Having your own binder, paper, pens, pencils etc. have been a part of school way before my time in elementary, years ago. Now we should be outraged that the schools are not providing all of this? Did you hear they cut 20 million from the PUSD budget?
Seems like the entitlement lessons are coming from home. I was certainly taught to come to school prepared, responsibility is what it was in my day and age, not a secret plot of all teachers to hoard school supplies. The faux outrage is ridiculous.
Posted by Suzanne P., a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:48 am
The "First to Worst" is right on. And I remember way back when, when prop 13 came about -- we can look to that to see the slow decline of funds for our educational system. Why are we not taking another look at it? Our taxes are what funds our education - I'm sorry, but the days of some people paying $900/year while many others pay $12,000+ a year on the same type property/home should be over!
Posted by Productive Mom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm
"I'm sorry, but the days of some people paying $900/year while many others pay $12,000+ a year on the same type property/home should be over! "
You're not the first one to say so. People from both the left and the right have looked at the law and said it was in need of reform. The cap on annual increases was set arbitrarily when the law was written. At the time it did stop the relentless increases people were seeing in their property taxes. At the time tax increases were outpacing inflation. For many years after prop 13 went into effect, the opposite was happening. We have to adjust the annual cap to a more realistic number or percentage of inflation.
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm
@Productive Mom - While the annual increase in one's taxes was capped at 2%, the price of homes was rising at a greater than inflation rate, so that tax receipts were growing as homes turned over. Just because our leaders have locked in (growing) expenses, and did not create a large-enough rainy day fund, and did not plan for the possibility of a decline in tax receipts as home prices fall, is no reason to change the formula for Prop 13. The growing trend of rolling back expenses I believe is the right thing to do.
Posted by Nomad, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm
It would be good to know what the ACLU wants as an end-game result of their pursuit (besides covering their salaries). 'What the Heck' and 'Stacy' start to think about this. Robles-Wong seeks to close a perceived gap between CA's mandated standards and funding. The ACLU wants enforcement of case law that says that everything related to 'education' is to be 'free'. How likely will CA suddenly generate $Billions to fund current mandates, so one possible outcome is that CA will pare back standards, graduation requirements, and maybe even pass laws that restrict/confine what is considered 'extracurricular' *and* 'educational'. Thus forcing true 'pay to play' and not the 'donate to play' that we have today. Where 'donate' means 'pay your fair share and then some to cover those who can't/won't pay'.
Posted by Productive Mom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:21 pm
"While the annual increase in one's taxes was capped at 2%, the price of homes was rising at a greater than inflation rate, so that tax receipts were growing as homes turned over."
That is a pretty weak argument for capping the rate at 2%. Why not 1%? Why not 3%? Or, why not a much more reasonable peg to overall inflation (not housing inflation)? Of course tax receipts went up. But there were also far more people needing services. Economists, analysts, and other observers from outside California and from both the left and the right largely agree that Prop 13 is in need of reform. Warren Buffet had it right.
"Just because our leaders have locked in (growing) expenses, and did not create a large-enough rainy day fund, and did not plan for the possibility of a decline in tax receipts as home prices fall, is no reason to change the formula for Prop 13. "
I agree. That is not the reason. The reason to change the formula is because it is arbitrary, poorly conceived, and counter-productive. It produces a false incentive to stay in a home longer than an owner would otherwise wish to stay. It creates a market distortion that leads to less wealth creation and slows the velocity of money. It is government interference in the free market.
Posted by prop 13 needs reform, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm
I agree with Productive Mom about prop 13 creating a false incentive to stay in a home.
We pay over 10K in property taxes and are happy to do so. But one of our neighbors pay less than 2,000 per year! They bought the property many years ago, for very cheap, and here they are, an older couple unable to even maintain their property, staying simply because of the low tax rate. This has to change. If anything, once they sell or pass it on to their relatives, they should be taxed retroactively - that way you are not making the owners move, but once they do sell or pass it on, the property should be taxed, for the many years it was undertaxed. After all, these older folks will make a good profit when they finally sell - make them pay their fair share of taxes, after all they also use roads, etc which are financed by taxes.
Posted by shocked citizen, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm
I don't think it is fair that we should have to pay as much as any of you do. But lets be real here, do you think the teachers like asking parents for the money. Most of the parents have students that they have to pay for also. The teachers have a budget every year and most of the time it is clearly not enough. So until the State of California can do their job, why do we take it out on the teachers
"Check out this Spanish class at Hart taught by Ms. Newman. where an the school website, the teacher clearly states the kids have to pay the teacher for books"
They're only trying to do their job with what they have. I think it takes a lot of immaturity to call out a teacher to blame for what our State can't get right. I think this Ms. Newman needs an apology for outing her for a mistake made by "We" who vote in these damn politicians that can't and wont put a stop to the madness.
It's one thing to voice your opinion, its another to be disrespectful to someone who only trying to help "our" children learn with the curriculum that was approved by our State, Their Boss!!
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Jensen Tract neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm
The police department has a budget too, but last I heard, when you call them, they don't arrive at the door asking for "donations" to respond to your call. The police aren't allowed to ask for money to respond to your call, and if they do, it is called asking for a "bribe."
The much maligned "State" has poured billions and billions of dollars into education. Locally, Pleasanton Unified cannot seem to manage its own budget. They've re-directed funds to salaries which should have been used for supplies because they can't say no to the certificated teachers union. They've raided the Sycamore fund to pay teachers' benefits.
And they've gone underground asking parents for illegal fees, asking parents to subsidize their budget that they clearly cannot manage. And of course they have raided the Sycamore fund.
The local school district and its teachers need to take responsibility, like espoused by the community character trait, for charging prices to educate the children, when they clearly know it is against the law.
Once the ACLU wins the lawsuit, as part of the settlement, school districts will be forced to return all the coerced donations they have gathered for unlawfully requesting funds. I hope that what is returned comes directly out of the administrators' and teachers' salaries as just punishment.