Field trips in danger because of new state law

Students stand in front of the Supreme Court during the 2012 Close Up field trip
Students stand in front of the Supreme Court during the 2012 Close Up field trip

Teachers are having trouble raising enough money for field trips because of a new state law that requires schools to take all students who want to go on the trips, even if they don’t pay.

California state law requires that public schools offer free education to all students. In addition, students aren’t required to pay for their own materials and activities. Schools may still charge fees, however, to cover the costs of field trips and can’t deny students the opportunity to participate if they cannot make payments.

As a result of the optional fees, several field trips have struggled to stay afloat due to a lack of funding. The school district relies on participants to fundraise on their own, and if they can’t raise enough money, they don’t have a lot of options to continue with the trip.

“A lot of districts have decided not to allow field trips in the first place, but I’m trying to keep that from happening to the Close Up trip, which has been offered annually at our school for over 30 years,” said teacher Carmelina Frasca, supervisor of the Washington D.C. Close Up program.

Choir teacher Laryssa Sadoway, leading the Seattle tour, believes the law poses a challenge, but is still fair. “I think the law comes from really good intentions, which is that we don’t want you to have to be rich to do anything at school. You should be able to do anything no matter what your socio-economic background,” she said.

Along with the Close Up program, other departments such as the arts and ASL programs are also facing difficulties keeping field trips. Organizers don’t know what to do when many students want to participate but are unable to pay.

Students hold car washes and ask for donations from members of the community, but it may not always be enough.

For the school choir’s Seattle tour, the price has already been lowered from $900 to $600. There’s even an option for a payment plan of one hundred dollars a month leading up to the field trip.

Field trips may be costly, but can be rewarding. They provide opportunities to embrace a richer learning experience, especially for students who are truly interested.

“Compared to other schools, we are lucky that the prices for the field trips are lower. The money which you pay for is mostly used for your own needs,” said junior Nash Reyes.

Unfortunately, money is always an issue – the cost of the Close Up reaching almost $2,000 and the Seattle Tour at $900.

Both Frasca and Sadoway share the same determination in wanting to encourage all students to participate, despite their inability to pay.

“I do think that every student should have the opportunity to go on this trip, and I work really hard to try to make sure that even students that can’t afford it can still go,” Frasca said.

Evan Kwong

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