Sock it to the kids

Bullying isn’t just a
problem amongst students at your local middle school. Too often, when states
and districts find themselves in a financially strapped space (a reality from
Atlantic to Pacific), they pass along the suffering to students and families.
In California, for example, recent legislation has unilaterally barred teacher
layoffs for the 2011-12 school year. In order to mitigate the burden that this
will place on already cash-strapped districts, the law will allow them to
shorten the school year by seven days—over a week of instructional time.
Districts in Illinois (and other states) have taken another route—though one
equally detrimental to kids: Pushing costs onto students by charging fees for
textbooks, extracurriculars, even required classes like English and physical
education. (Some families are writing checks to the tune of $600-plus per
child.) This meme may
seem repetitive
to the avid Gadfly
reader, but it bears repeating: There are alternative
to stretch
that school dollar
—ones that don’t
harm the individuals for which the system exists in the first place.

Click to play

Click to listen to commentary on California's shortened school year from the Education Gadfly Show podcast


teacher layoff law stirs confusion, criticism
,” by Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2011.

see big gap in school fees among districts
,” by Diane Rado, Mick Swasko,
and Jim Jaworski, Chicago Tribune,
August 5, 2011.