August 12, 2013: Preparing for this week's back to school in many Santa Clara County's districts -- as well as districts around the entire state -- teachers are aware of the law created by AB 1575 and signed into law in January, prohibiting public schools from requiring parents or students to pay for any school supplies or materials, from sanitized handwipes and crayons to football uniforms and band instruments. In a feature in today's San Jose Mercury, writers Tracey Seipel and Sharon Noguchi note:
... teachers say they will depend heavily on donations from parents, PTAs and other groups to help them get by. "Wish lists" of items they hope parents will help them buy are commonly posted online on school websites, handed out in fliers sent home with students -- or presented directly to parents on "Back to School Night."...
Magdalena Fittoria, principal at Barron Park Elementary School in Palo Alto, was shopping ...to help out a new second-grade teacher at the school. She said her staff is aware of the new law.
"We are a public school system that cannot require that," she said. "And we practice that consistently,'' she said..
But she also said that the PTA asks parents to donate or contribute to the school, and all schools in the Palo Alto Unified School District are helped by Palo Alto Partners in Education, a nonprofit foundation that raises funds to enhance education at each school.
"We want parents to donate or contribute, but one-third of our families are socioeconomically disadvantaged," said Fittoria of her school's demographics. "So we work as a community to raise the funds we need."
In Humboldt County, a young elementary school teacher was shopping at Target in Eureka, buying both school supplies (in one basket) and some personal items (in a second basket). At the checkout line, the cashier commented on the split, and the teacher explained that the first basket -- loaded with items headed for her classroom -- was for her students. A woman behind her in line, a stranger, said, "Put that on my tab. I'm paying for that." Before the teacher could "get her head around" what had just happened, the cashier said, "What the heck, we'll be the good guys, too" -- and rang up the teacher's personal-item basket as a "no charge."