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Forced fundraising

May 24, 2008

Re "Schools can't spare time or dimes for field trips," May 19

For those of us with children in school, it's not news that there's no money for field trips. That's what those catalogs with $10 rolls of wrapping paper, forgettable trinkets and chocolate bars that parents bring to work and children take to their neighbors are all about.

Across California, PTAs and booster clubs have been paying for field trips and assemblies because school districts can't afford to provide them.

School parent groups work hard to ensure that all students have access to the kind of enrichment a child gets from a field trip to a hands-on science museum, a local art museum or, if they're lucky, a historical reenactment center that brings Colonial America to life.

PTA moms never set out to be fundraisers. But we see the greater good and find ourselves enthusiastically hawking wrapping paper because we have no other way of raising the funds.

So the next time the neighbor kid shyly asks you if you would like to buy one of those chocolate bars, remember back to your grade-school field trips and go ahead and buy one. No, make that two bars, and one roll of wrap.

Denise Clary Wilson

Culver City

The writer is the president of the PTA at El Rincon Elementary School.

I find it hard to accept that schools don't have money for field trips. In the worst of economic times, the district that I worked for always had money for:

sending administrators on expensive weekend conferences;

hiring consultants to advise on matters that could have been handled by any reasonably well-educated individual already being paid by the district;

repairing the front office, when classrooms needed it more;

creating Taj Mahals at the district office or county offices;

keeping the buses running for sporting events but not for academic field trips;

buying out the contract of an incompetent superintendent.

Bill D. Holder

Cypress

There is no substitute for introducing children to works of art through a visit to a museum. Each year, the Getty Museum hosts nearly 115,000 students, funding bus transportation for more than 32,000 students from Title I schools. For many of these children, this is their first visit to a museum.

The Getty is fortunate to have the resources to help, but we cannot assist every school in need. To expand our ability to reach students directly, we offer free workshops and curricula for teachers at all levels, geared to the state content standards. But the best classroom programs in the world cannot match the experience of seeing a Rembrandt or a Gauguin for the first time.

In an era when schools are struggling to provide the basics for students, field trips might seem like a luxury. But we believe that cultural awareness, creativity and aesthetic enjoyment are essential to a child's education. We applaud the efforts of corporations to help fund field trips. We hope more companies will follow their example.

Michael Brand

Director

J. Paul Getty Museum

Los Angeles

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