I could not escape the irony of the past weekend when my state legislature patted themselves on the back for giving the citizens of Massachusetts a “Tax Free Weekend” to help parents with back to school purchases and the reality that on Sunday evening, a young man knocked on our door, begging for money to help him pay for school sports at our public school. He was a nice young man and it was clear that he was not comfortable going door to door soliciting donations to support our public schools.
In my town, students in the higher grades have to pay more than $300 a year for school bus transportation. After school sports are also not included and cost each family a few hundred dollars more each year for each child. To lessen the blow of this, each school sport has fund raising activities to help fund the activity; things like hot dogs sales at games, or as this young man was doing, outright begging for money, all in a town where the median household income is over $100K and several incomes are well over $1 Million dollars a year. I can’t imagine how bad this is in towns with lower incomes.
Somehow, we can’t find the money to pay for the transportation of our students, can’t give them the same school experience that we had, with no extra charge for after school activities, because we and our legislators do not have the empathy, sense of community, and frankly, guts to raise taxes to help our children have a better life. All they can come up with is a sales tax holiday that is more smoke and mirrors and support for business than it serves as a benefit to our schools.
Instead, our legislature announces a “tax free weekend” in order for a family to save maybe $50 on back to school supplies, even though this means that on a weekend evening, some young man will be pushed to go door to door, begging for money in order for him to play after school sports because our communities and our legislators will not fully support our schools and our children.