Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The Wall Street Journal ran a story Sunday on the rising costs of attending public school. Things that once were free are increasingly coming with a price tag, like bus transportation, extracurricular activities, athletics, music class, debate club. Well, one might say, those are all extra things that go beyond the basics of education. But many schools go beyond charging for optional activities. A school in Colorado charges for foreign language class, math class, and advanced placement class. Some schools charge for textbooks.
I would hope and assume that there are waivers for low-income students, but I am skeptical that this solves the problem. There is already a huge socio-economic and racial gap in terms of who participates in enriched academic programs like AP classes. Placing a pricetag only reinforces that gap. Of course, this is to say nothing of the fact that these fees exist in states whose courts have held these children have a constitutional or fundamental right to education. The ACLU picked up on this idea in Michigan and brought suit to enjoin the fees. Fortunately, the district buckled before the beginning of the school year. Without concerted activism or litigation, however, few other districts seem poised to do the same.