Thursday, December 9, 2010

Extracurricular activity fees in schools

Did you know now for students to simply participate in a High School extracurricular activity it commonly requires a significant fee? In addition to athletics and drivers education, even debate and the school play require fees for participation at many of our public schools. At Armstrong High School, in Minnesota's School District 281, students must fork over $210 per sport. Fine arts activities require $110 to register for participation. To enroll a student into drivers education, now being run outside of the school system, it will cost students an additional $350 or more.

Fees from students and families are also commonly needed for equipment, optional training camps, etc. For students and parents the sound most associated with participation in school activities a big Cha Ching! Thankfully scholarship funds are available for students receiving free or reduced rate lunch. Armstrong has a family cap of $700 for student activities.

Back in the day, when I was going though Minneapolis' public school system, I thank God we didn't have fees, or likely I would never have joined the sports that I did. As it was, it took me some time to build up my courage and go out for Nordic skiing and track during my junior year of High School, and then adding cross country running my senior year. Being raised in a large family of modest means, the expectation of a fee would have been a big barrier for my participation. As it turns out, those high school sports have become life long activities for me.

Taxes for the common good is an unpopular concept these days. The current government trend is toward user fees, even though these fees hit those with the fewest means hardest. My heart grieves for the many kids who will not be going out for the school play, playing chess or a sport of their choice because of our fee system. Shame on us.

Pictures are from the Northwest Suburban Conference Nordic skate ski meet held December 8th at Elm Creek Park Reserve, in Maple Grove, MN.

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