Friday, July 23, 2010

How FREE is our education?

I posted some time ago about "someone has to pay for it."  Just a compare/contrast look at 2 school districts I have worked in.

School District A: Property Taxes per year $7200. Sales tax 5%, none on groceries or clothes. State Lottery - yes and the money goes to the school nutrition program, scholarships, non-public school aid, veterans programs, state testing in schools.
Students do not pay any "school fees" or send six bags of classroom supplies to school on Day 1.  School supplies are stored in the school office and teachers go get what they need.  

School Disrict B: Property Taxes per year $2000. Sales tax9.25% on everything. State lottery - yes and the money funds student scholarships, pre-k and after school programs.
Students are asked to pay a "school fee" every fall to their homeroom teacher (from 30 - 80 bucks). Parents of elementary and middle school kids are given supply lists of things to get for back to school. My list that I had to buy for my child in 1st grade cost $28 at Walmart, is in a huge heavy bag that is more than the kids can carry and it isn't stuff for him. It includes class supplies like writing paper, papertowels, kleenex (see former post about tissue!) 

My first thoughts as a parent were: Why can't the schools buy this stuff? Gee, raise taxes and save me the trip to the store and the trip to school (cause he cant carry this on the bus himself). Also I bet the schools can get the supplies in bulk (we have 40,000 students in this district).

As a high school teacher I thought: Where's my supply list? Can I just make one and send it home? For 18 years I have purchased high quality facial tissue for my classroom. If I didn't, my students would rarely have anything to wipe their noses on. That.... is disgusting.  I buy my own disinfecting wipes with bleach and clean the desks myself cause the janitors don't do it (in SD B they dont), thus trying to keep the kids from getting H1N1 or other illnesses.

As a tax payer thought, well the more taxes I pay the more I should see the schools providing. Would that really happen? At this point, I do not know. When I am retired and my kids aren't in public schools anymore, would I want to pay more taxes to support th youth of America or would I feel like, well, hey, let the parents buy all that crap and haul it to school.

After the 27 dollar trip to Walmart, I still have to go to the specialty school supply store and buy 1 ream of first grade writing paper to send in to the teacher. Geez....

What do you think?