I'm trying to find out if our public school is different than any other.
When my daughter was in 6th grade (which is elementary in our system) her class took a trip to a neighboring state to spend a week together in a skill-building learning experience. The cost of the trip was $458 plus she was required to have certain things with her such as rain boots and poncho, and specifically a duffle bag of a certain size, among other things. So obviously the trip cost more than $458 because it included the accoutrements that we had to purchase to take along.
Now she is in 7th grade (middle school) and today the children are going to the state's playhouse to see a Christmas play. The cost is $32. The children were expected to dress up (fortunately she had some dressy-casual clothes). Plus, on the way back to school from the play, the children are stopping at a mall to eat inside the food court so they need money. They are allowed to brown bag it, but of course the kids probably all want to do the same as the others. The kids on the meal plan can go to the cafeteria and have a lunch wrapped up for them, which I think makes it obvious they are on the lunch program ansd defeats the whole purpose lunch programs started out by selling/giving students lunch tickets.
It's two weeks before Christmas. I'm shopping at good will stores for my kids because we can't afford new things. I'm cooking from scratch more than usual lately to conserve what little money we have. My DD is not on the meal plan. My DH makes enough money that we don't qualify for financial aid for any of these things. However, times are tight for us right now.
The notice sent home about this playhouse field trip actually when on to say, in so many words, that the teachers know times are tough and they thought about it but still decided despite the economy to do this trip because it was a good learning opportunity.
How nice of them to deliberate on how we should spend our money when they know times are tough!
I had such trips in school at this age. We spent an overnight in another state, visiting historic landmarks. I barely remember anything...and it did not have much impact on me at the time. What I remember most is bunking two to a bed in a hotel room, hanging out with my friends. At 12 I cared more about the clothes I was packing and how to get a hair dryer into my suitcase than the fact I was going to see John Hancock's signature. So I'm thinking these "educational opportunities" for my child are about to amount to the same.
Experiences for children are cumulative, so while I feel seeing a play is a nice thing, I don't think this one experience is going to make or break her intellectual reservoir. I think the school is asking for too much money during times that are economically difficult for everyone, plus right before a big holiday that most of these children's families celebrate?
One parent I know, her child is on the meal plan but doesn't want to be embarrassed bringing the meal with her. So her mom is giving her a $5 and telling her to go to a particular fast food place in the food court and to buy a particular menu, and then make sure she comes home with $2 ! I thought that was a little crazy, just give the kid a $5, but I guess there are homes where it's tighter than at my house. And then this mom was annoyed because her DD's teacher asked the kids to all chip in $5 so the class could buy pizza together.
Do you think the school should not have had this trip this time of year? Do you think $32 is expensive for a half-day field trip? Does your school have the same expectations for you in contributing to outside activities that cost money?
I've never heard of a field trip costing so much. I wonder what else is coming down the pike for me to foot the bill in the future. I don't have just one kid either.