Voluntary Means Not Compulsory

Parental participation in the school activities of their children is very important and should be encouraged. However, encouraging involvement should not become a requirement that could have a negative impact in education.

A memorandum by the California Department Education reminded that the law clearly establishes that “a school district or school, including a charter school, shall not offer or remove course credit or privileges related to educational activities based on whether or not the school receives money or donations of goods or services from a pupil or a pupil’s parents or guardians.”

This clarification, issued a few days ago, was made necessary in view of the growing number of schools that imposed requirements on parents as a condition of allowing their children to go to class.

A study by the education civil rights group Public Advocacy found that 177 charter schools require parents to commit their time to the school before their child is admitted. Of those schools, 73 are located in the Los Angeles County, including many run by the Green Dot, Alliance and KIPP organizations.

According to Public Advocates, in some charter schools the students were told that they could not participate in field trips and other activities because their parents had not done enough volunteer work. Some parents were even told that their children could only participate if they bought classroom supplies or donated money instead of volunteering.

This is wrong. Charter schools are part of a free public education that is paid for by all of us. These kinds of requirements before the student enrollment have the effect of discourage the parents, especially if they are low income earners and do not have the resources or the time — because they work in two jobs or more — to volunteer.

Charter schools are a good option, provided that they are better than the regular ones and do not exclude students. Regrettably, those schools have a history of improperly selecting their students.

A public school can ask you to volunteer, but whether you can do it or not, should not have an impact on the student. That’s the law