Tuesday, March 13, 2007

California School District Bills Vacationing Families

A school district is attempting to collect payment from families who remove their children from school for planned absences such as family vacations. California schools do not receive state funding for any students missing on a particular day.

This is the height of absurdity. California families already pay huge amounts of taxes in support of public schools. Attempting to "charge" parents for making decisions for their children as they see fit is not only greedy, it's an inappropriate intrusion into parental decision making and family life.

When our children attended our local schools, our philosophy was that not all learning happens inside the classroom. As long as our children were doing well in school, we saw absolutely no problem with taking them out of school occasionally. For instance, my children still vividly remember all they saw and learned on their trips to Boston, but today they would have no memory of what they would have done in school on the particular days they missed. Learning takes place over the long haul, and there's a much bigger picture than what happens from day to day in the classroom.

Meanwhile the real issue here, the way California chooses to fund its schools, is not being addressed. California provides funding to schools based on daily attendance, not enrollment. This also leads to great pressure from the schools to bring sick children to school, "at least for first period attendance," as I was told by more than one teacher. Needless to say, that practice can start a vicious cycle, exposing even more children to illness and causing further absences.


Blogger I am Ugly Naked Guy. said...

Laura, I have never heard anyone address this! I have only been in the "profession" a short time, but I already despise the way our schools are funded. I want to do some research on how other states do it and how we came to be stuck with such a lame system. Obviously it costs the same amount to run the school when little Billy is absent as it does on the other days. I hope you won't mind when I blog about this in the future--it has been on my list.

9:06 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'd love to see you post about this! I know not all states handle their funding this way but, like you, don't know the details. There simply *must* be a better way as -- as you point out -- many of a school's expenses (i.e., overhead like teacher salaries) don't change regardless of how many children are absent on a given day.

I have thought to myself over the years that if various people in the CA education business would spend half the time working to reform the funding issue that they spend pressuring parents to have their children in school for attendance, we might have seen a change in the funding system by now (grin).

I'm glad to discover you've resumed blogging, I'll check it out!

Best wishes, Laura

11:19 PM  
Blogger Ugly Naked Guy. said...

You have to wonder why there hasn't been a push for change. Who benefits from the current way it is done? There must either be a good reason or someone powerful benefits from the status quo. Very Curious.

7:39 AM  

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