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Thread: Thank you, ACLU (verrrrry long)
09-28-2010 10:54 AM #1
- San Diego, CA, United StatesMember No: 32670
- Join Date
- Apr 2002
- Rep Power
Thank you, ACLU (verrrrry long)
Here in California we have a thing called "Free school for everyone." This basically means that taxpayers' children (and those of non-paying illegal aliens, of course) receive K-12 schooling for no additional charge. Pretty standard stuff across the country, I imagine.
So far so good, right? But how about extra-curricular activities? Like, say... football. Track. Math club. Cheerleading. Stuff we all took for granted when we were in high school.
Things are different today in Cali, baby - the school districts can't afford to pay for those programs anymore, at least not entirely. These programs *REQUIRE* outside sources of funds to exist - for things like uniforms and other equipment, coaches' stipends, travel expenses... you name it, it usually has to be paid for from extra-district sources. But... keep in mind that all these activities are VOLUNTARY on the part of the students and their families.
So, the programs turn to booster clubs for help with fund raising. The typical setup is to have participating students pay a portion of the required monies in fees and add the rest via fundraisers (and you are usually given the choice of "buying out" of the fundraiser by writing another check to the program). Additionally, we happen to have a "Foundation" which is a 503(c) org and oversees all this activity - meaning it receives a full outside audit every year.
Apparently, someone somewhere in our great state decided their kid should be able to participate in these extra-curricular (and expensive) programs FOR FREE. And when they were asked to pay their fees, they instead cried to the ACLU, who has now begun poking their noses into the situation, holding districts to the strict letter of the law: School for Free.
The ACLU's interpretation is that if the activity is offered, then all kids must be able to participate FOR FREE. Fees cannot be mandatory.
So... booster clubs/programs cannot require kids to pay fees - it must be a voluntary payment, or the funds must be raised thru fundraisers - and you can't force a kid to participate in a fundraiser. What these families apparently fail to realize (or don't care about) is that SOMEONE has to pay for this stuff, and it isn't coming from state tax revenue.
And before the bleeding hearts reading this start crying "Well, Johnny shouldn't be excluded just because his family doesn't have financial means..." I couldn't agree more. And in our programs, we have a slush fund set up to help with families with such needs, and we have programs in which kids can help defray by working the snack bar, etc. But there are limits built in to these handouts, and still, some families try to take advantage.
Our district has responded to this ACLU "investigation" by saying "if you can't work it out, we'll simply shut down ALL extracurricular programs."
And that, my e-buddies, would be a real shame.
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