California State Constitution provides a Free Education For All
A few days ago I stopped at Walmart to purchase a few markers for a workshop I am preparing. I felt like I walked into “Black Friday” in the Crayola Isle. Parents were frustrated, in tears, raising voices at children, trying to find the cheapest box of this or that and all carrying a phone or paper with a list of “items your child needs to bring to school”.
Below you will find links to two pages that explain the guidelines for any student fees including field trips or school supplies.
I want to enable the citizens of the State of California to act on the Constitution and stop stressing out about purchasing a lot of materials for their children to start school. I have taught many children from Low Socioeconomic Households. It was my pleasure to provide this information to these families as they struggled to raise funds for Environmental School, Field Trips, Band Instruments and School Supplies.
The following Quote comes from the Educational Commission of the State. Written by Emily Parker in an article titled Constitutional obligations for public education
California Constitutional Obligations for Public Education.
“Specific funding levels in constitutions can quickly become outdated. California spends more than 50 times its constitutionally mandated per-pupil funding amount and Delaware spends nearly 20,000 times its mandate”
The Attorney General has issued an opinion that all of the following are “necessary supplies” and therefore, if the school district requires that pupils use such items, the school district must provide them to pupils for free in order to participate in regular classroom work in the particular subjects involved.
Happy Children Getting Started with Just the Right Stuff
Take Children shopping one at a time. If you take children together you will spend more per child than if you can focus your time and attention on one at a time. You might even be able to stay to a strict budget.
Buy what you can afford for your child to start the year. Maybe a new backpack and new lunch pail. Get what you want, not what the teacher/school asks for. If you go to a school that is free, private schools are not free, the school district MUST provide all necessary materials. Your job is to give your child enough nice new things that make them feel proud and ready for whatever happens the first day of school.
Watch for sales. Shop dollar stores Spiral notebooks go on sale at local stores for as little as 17Cents during the end of July early August. Don’t miss the sales. I recommend you stock up on items when you see them on sale.
Color Code Supplies for Multiple Children. If you purchase a blue pencil box, blue pencils, blue pens, blue lunch box, blue, blue, blue…whenever you find something at home that is blue you can give it to Billie every time. Any time we can avoid conflict in our homes we have a happier household.
. Try to stock up on your child’s favorite color. For instance, if Billie child loves Blue get ten blue covered notebooks, ten red for Roger, ten Pink for Priscilla, etc. That way you have extra if you need them stashed away for the rest of the school year.
Avoid the color black because it is too much trouble to try to get the child’s name written on the front of things. At home black would be fine but at school no teacher would be able to figure out whose notebook or pencil box belongs to the black one.
It is a wonderful idea (if you can afford them) to look online for #2 pencils that you can order with your child’s name on them. If your child has their name pressed into the pencils teachers will automatically return them to each student. One year my Parent Group bought each student four dozen of these personally marked pencils for the school year. The teachers loved it! The kids loved it too!
For five dollars you can have new pencils, glue sticks, age appropriate scissors, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, pencil box, markers, etc..
Tell your kids that you will take care of that list for the school. Promise them that they will not be embarrassed and that they will not be asked for any of them at school because you are going to take care of it for them.
THIS is an adult issue. Do not involve children (under 18 years old) in this discussion. Children should not worry about financial issues.
Assume most teachers are unaware of the Constitution and Educational guidelines regarding school supplies. These days I also assume that principals are ignorant of these guidelines. Principals typically come out of the classroom, into a Master’s of Education program into the leadership chair. High School teachers and leaders have the attitude that the students and families are required to pay for things. Therefore, you may need to print this guideline out to present to the school.
All schools must make their budget available to the public. The following information describes exactly what your responsibility is. Do not purchase boxes of copy paper, boxes of Kleenex, white board markers and erasers, etc… The teacher things that are required to run a classroom must be supplied by the school district – not you. I am frustrated for parents who are spending over $300 for each student to start the year. The parents become frustrated when they supply something that is shared around the classroom. I don’t blame parents for feeling ripped off. It is your tax dollars that go to the budget and must be put as a priority for your child’s education.
If any school employee gives your child a hard time – speak up!!! If the teacher has a check list of things they want from your family – go in and be clear that you want your child’s boxes checked off because you won’t be providing all of those materials. I know for me I would not have nearly a thousand dollars to get my three kids teachers happy. Teachers have classroom budgets but they want to keep the money for other things. I understand that – like new electric pencil sharpeners…but priorities are your children’s educational needs first.
Please share this with your friends and family.
This is a link to a page that includes information from each state regarding Public Education. It did not specifically note the Free For All status for each. You should check the individual state government websites for specific details. Contact me if you need help figuring out all about funding and access to a great public education.