Credit karma

Students can no longer purchase items for extra credit

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California Education Code 49011, a new ban on school fees and required supplies, takes public school ideals to a whole new level. In simple terms, students going to public schools cannot legally be required to pay for participation in an educational activity, including for supplies such as PE uniforms, and extra credit cannot be offered in exchange for money or goods.

It is unclear for now how the first part will be implemented at RUHS and other schools in our district; however, the extra credit rule is surrounded by controversy.

This rule was put in place in order to protect lower-income students who cannot “buy their grades,” as some see it. Personally, I don’t see how donating a tissue box in exchange for a few extra credit points is unfair, especially since a student that cares enough to ask for extra credit, but doesn’t want to spend money, can request an alternative option. 

Asking students for donations of certain supplies is a convenient way to help both parties, that won’t disadvantage lower-income students so long as teachers are willing to provide alternative options. 

How extra credit is given should be up to the teacher. If they are uncomfortable with the concept, they’re not required to do it; however, if the student is willing to provide supplies, and the teacher is willing to give the necessary credit, it should be left to a law to prevent a consensual agreement.

Already affecting life at Redondo, at this year’s Day of the Dead festival teachers were not allowed to ask students for pan de muerto and other goods; instead, students were given extra credit for services such as set-up. So why strictly one or the other? Teachers should be allowed to do both if they would like to.

If this law stays in place, commodities needed in classrooms by students and teachers — such as tissues or lab supplies — should be provided by the school. Teachers should not be expected to buy hygienic products for their students, just as students shouldn’t be expected to remember to bring their own. If students need to blow their nose, they should not have to leave class and find toilet paper to do so; it is a waste of time and disrupts the learning environment. 

Teachers offer extra credit because the funds they’re given is not sufficient enough to supply materials for their growing classes. Teachers use department funds in order to supply class materials, making every dollar spent on these materials a dollar subtracted from learning materials to benefit students during class. Maybe the law is easier for departments who don’t need to spend too much learning materials, but for classes such as science, money spent on lab supplies means a lack department funds for tissues and other sanitary supplies.

If the California Department of Education insists on imposing these laws against students bringing in supplies for extra credit, they should provide teachers with these commodities in order to promote a productive learning environment and continue to benefit both parties.