Are public schools really for free?
By Faye-Chantelle Mondesir
Throughout the school year parents complain about the constant barrage of letters they receive from schools soliciting donations or miscellaneous fees for random non-academic events such as the famous dress-down days. Why parents are expected to bear the expense of sometimes seemingly unnecessary costs is the query raised by Sandra, mother of two daughters, who approached the STAR this week to vent her frustrations.
“From the time my girls entered school,” she confessed to the STAR, “It has seemed like every month the teachers are asking for something. If they aren’t requesting money for one thing, they host school events which parents are expected to pay for. It’s as if teachers forget that not all parents can afford to be giving extra monies to their children all the time. If it’s a cost toward their education, I don’t mind spending money but my daughters don’t benefit from the majority of things their schools ask money for.”
Graduation day woes are the most common around this time of year, according to Sandra who has a hefty checklist of graduation expenses to meet. While parents of other children may rush around excitedly in search of graduation gabs, she is far from thrilled at “the big bill she has on her back”, as she so bluntly admitted. Sandra, a struggling mother of five and 12-year-old daughters, lamented, “Kayla’s pre-school graduation fees are so costly, almost twice the amount of my big girl! With my other daughter, at least she can reuse her clothes after she graduates, but my little girl’s graduation gown will be rented, so all the money I am spending for her is just a waste!”
Sandra believes that a standard system of allowing children to wear their school uniform, or any garments of their choice with standard gowns as over-coats, rented for a reasonable fee, is the ideal solution for parents in general around this costly preparatory period for the next school semester.
“Already things are so costly, with the exorbitant prices of text books, uniforms and school supplies being so high,” she moaned. “When a child is leaving one school and getting ready to enter another, so much financial pressure should not be placed on parents. It isn’t like we live in the UK or Martinique where governmental assistance is given. Apart from the $500 bursary fee the former government gave children moving forward to high school, parents basically bear all costs. Who feels it knows it.”
For now, Sandra just hopes the expense will prove to be advantageous for her daughters while she waits to see if the letters they bring home will lessen in the next school year.
The expense of school goes beyond the classroom and into graduation ceremonies.