from the Wall Street Journal:
Public Schools Charge Kids for Basics, Frills
By STEPHANIE SIMON
MEDINA, Ohio—Karen Dombi was thrilled when her three oldest children were picked for student government this year—not because she envisioned careers in politics, but because it was one of the few programs at their public high school that didn't charge kids to participate.
Budget shortfalls have prompted Medina Senior High to impose fees on students who enroll in many academic classes and extracurricular activities. The Dombis had to pay to register their children for basic courses such as Spanish I and Earth Sciences, to get them into graded electives such as band, and to allow them to run cross-country and track.
The family's total tab for a year of public education: $4,446.50.
"I'm wondering, am I going to be paying for my parking spot at the school? Because you're making me pay for just about everything else," says Ms. Dombi, a parent in this middle-class community in northern Ohio.
Public schools across the country, struggling with cuts in state funding, rising personnel costs and lower tax revenues, are shifting costs to students and their parents by imposing or boosting fees for everything from enrolling in honors English to riding the bus.
At high schools in several states, it can cost more than $200 just to walk in the door, thanks to registration fees, technology fees and unspecified "instructional fees."
Though public schools have long charged for extras such as driver's education and field trips, many are now asking parents to pay for supplies needed to take core classes—from biology-lab safety goggles to algebra workbooks to the printer ink used to run off grammar exercises in language arts. In some schools, each class comes with a price tag, to be paid at registration. Some schools offer installment plans for payment. Others accept credit cards—for a processing fee.
Public-school administrators say the fees—some of which are waived for low-income families—allow them to continue to offer specialty classes and activities that would otherwise fall to the budget ax. Some parents support that approach, saying they'd rather pay for honors physics or drama than see those opportunities eliminated altogether.
These are PUBLIC SCHOOLS doing this.
THIS is what cuts in education hath wrought, and people need to WAKE UP.
Of course, these are upper middle-class folks in this story, because my working class parents did NOT have 4 grand lying around to give to a PUBLIC SCHOOL.
And, if this is happening in schools with parents who CAN pay 4 grand for PUBLIC SCHOOL stuff, what do you think is happening in schools where the parents DON'T HAVE 4 grand sitting somewhere to be forked over to the PUBLIC SCHOOL?