A new state law has banned schools from asking parents for fees, which is making field trips, athletics and school supplies harder to fund in some districts.
As the Mercury News reports, "the law reinforces what the California Constitution has guaranteed for nearly 140 years: a free public education."
But one of the consequences of the law is teachers are finding it more difficult — without funds for things like protractors — to do their jobs in some classrooms.
Field trips are also being difficult to fund. One example in the Mercury News story looks at a situation at a fourth grade class at Fairlands Elementary in Pleasanton.
"We're not sure what we can and can't say," said Marilyn Weinstein, a volunteer at Fairlands Elementary, where a last-minute scramble saved the fourth-grade mission trip. Previously, parents simply paid about $35 per child. Now, she said, "we can't tell them if you can't afford to pay, the PTA has money for you," because they were told that would single out low-income families. The fee has been replaced by a call for donations -- which fell short.
We asked Patch readers on Facebook what they thought about the fee restrictions.
Kelli McCombs Christensen on Livermore Patch's Facbook page said:
"As a teacher, we already get nothing for our classrooms. I spend about $2500 annually for supplies for my kids in my classroom...this is just sad because it will lessen the exposure to materials which will then lessen the quality of the education... I guess we get what we pay for, right?"
Elizabeth Green Perkins in San Ramon Patch's Facebook page said:
"It will be the end of animal assemblies, art projects, and our bear centers. Teacher can only pay for so much, and the district or state won't provide funds to fill in the gap. As a teacher, I am so grateful for parent support."
Karin Knudson O'Connell on Danville Patch's Facebook page said:
"Looks like the state needs to give more money to schools now to cover these items if schools can't ask parents to pay for them...."
Shelby Ferrari on Pleasanton Patch's Facebook page said:
"Raise taxes. Fund schools."
What do you think about the ban on almost all school fees? Should a free public education be completely free? Do you think school should be allowed to ask for fees for things like school supplies and field trips? Tell us in the comments section.